Day 6: Eyes Of The World, 9/7/73

Grateful Dead Wake Of The Flood

Today is a day 40 weeks in the making and one that I’ve put some thought into for the blog. I’m currently in the hospital with my wife awaiting the arrival of our second son. There are several choices in the Dead canon that relate to the idea of new beginnings and renewal. I thought long and hard about finding a Let It Grow for this occasion, but settled on Eyes Of The World. Eyes seems to have more of an innocence vibe and I find the lyrics more appropriate for such a natal event. (I’m a big fan of Let It Grow so don’t be surprised if one shows up really soon. My copy of DaP9 just arrived and I’m yet to get to the third disc, but I hear great things about that WRS.)

I’ve always been a big fan of the Dead’s studio work. I know that the band were generally not a fan of their studio efforts, but I tend to find them very underrated, especially the run from about 1970-1975. Pretty much all of the studio records in that period are solid gold in my opinion. When I got the expanded WOTF this version of Eyes really stood out to me and I’ve enjoyed it often in recent years. I believe this was the tour right after the album came out so this was new to the repertoire. The band attacks the jam with the passion and ferocity one would expect of 1973. The fact that it clocks in at over 17 minutes doesn’t hurt either. I always dig the Stronger Than Dirt jam in these early Eyes, and Jerry just lays it all out during the jam. Keith has a nice Fender Rhodes going at the same time which has a real soft, warm sound that complements the trebly, ice picking tone of Garcia’s guitar in this version.

So sit back, relax, and give this one a spin. I think you’ll find something you like in there somewhere.

Complete Setlist 9/7/73

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  1. A gentle, scratching intro leads the players into the lull of this summery tune. As usual, there is the swirl of percussive bubbles bursting left and right as the song gets set up in a medium tempo. Garcia waits just a few extra bars at the top, then sings the first verse carefully. A fine chorus follows, and the first jam segment finds Keith riding the electric piano as Jerry takes a very satisfying spin around the frets. The next verse and chorus are up soon, and Keith switches to acoustic piano and hammers it home. Donna is low in the mix, perhaps to hide some stray warblings, but the other singers make up for her absence. The second jam area is a sprightly outing through the sunny changes that give this tune life. If I am not mistaken, there is an edit or other anomaly in here. Jerry’s third verse is a bit confused lyrically and tonally, and the following chorus is not the best. The song drops slightly in dynamic as it sets up for the key-morphing jam that comes next. This version finds the drops especially punctuated as Billy practically stops playing every so often. From here, a funny, loping groove emerges for just a short bit, then another drop into the darker key sticks around longer. At about 10:30, an excursion into “Slipknot!” territory ensues. This turns quickly back into the main jam and is gradually subverted by Phil into a more serious space. The “Stronger Than Dirt” jam pops up next, all shined up into glory by Keith’s electric chordings. This goes on for a good while, and is just about as hot as one might hope. Note that the seeds of Blues for Allah were sown right here, almost two years before they bore fruit and with an entire, other studio album happening in the interim. After 15:00, Garcia rides one high note for a ridiculous length of time, propelling the song into a completely unique space. Surprisingly, this simmers down quickly into a harmonious jam between the guitars and piano, then fades into blankness. Besides being pretty swell throughout, this version contains more variety than most in the jams.

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