Day 329: Just A Little Light, 4/1/90

Grateful Dead Spring 1990 The Other One Atlanta 4/1/90 album cover artwork

Some folks might have a tendency to just move along when a Brent song comes up, but I think that Just A Little Light is one of his stronger compositions.

One thing is pretty clear about Brent’s songwriting is that he certainly wore his heart on his sleeve. It seems there is a lot of uncertainty and some potential demons in some of his tunes and that could be seen as a reflection of the inner turmoil of the singer. Perhaps I’m reading too much into it, but if you listen to some live versions of Blow Away you can hear it in real time.

But Just A Little Light has a feel that is, in my opinion, unique to the Grateful Dead catalog and therefore a very welcome addition. The song was only played 21 times in a span of about a year and a half. There were only 5 more after this one, but you can hear that by this point it seems like the band had at least gotten more comfortable with the song in the live setting. I don’t like all of Brent’s songs, but this is one I definitely very much enjoy.

Just A Little Light has a slightly funky/slightly adult contemporary vibe to it, at least as far as the keys go. I think when Jerry steps in with his envelope filter it really adds a critical tonal color to the song that makes it uncategorizable. Jerry and Phil both pluck out enough unique passages during the second verse to keep things interesting. There seems to be a bit of a clash around 2:48, but that’s just a bump in the road en route to the bridge. The ensuing solo gives the Big Man a chance to test out his dexterity for a bit and I really like the accented beats that Brent plays. In fact, I think those accents are one of, if not the most important parts of the song. Brent reserves the singer’s right after holding out the last chorus line, which fortunately for us, allows Jerry a few extra measures of mild experimentation before bringing the song to a close. That little jam is brief, but the highlight of the track for me and worth the wait.

Complete Setlist 4/1/90

Previous Just A Little Light DFAY Selections

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