Day 77: Brown Eyed Women, 8/24/71

Grateful Dead Dick's Picks 35 album cover artwork

Ever since hearing it on Europe 72, Brown Eyed Women has been a favorite of mine. This gets back to the idea of songs that tell a story, which I really like. Although the narrative of this particular song isn’t as linear as it could be there are enough gaps to keep it interesting and to allow for individual interpretation and license.

Frankly, I don’t know how Delilah Jones did anything with that many kids around. I have two and they seem to completely run the show around our house. Pretty much any stereotype about kids being dictators is evident in my 2.5 year old.

Ever since I heard this version of Brown Eyed Women I’ve really liked it, but it wasn’t until I looked up the song’s performance history for this post that I realized that this was only the 2nd time the band played it (out of a total 342 times). That helps to explain the tempo and the arrangement, certainly. I think this song benefited from being slowed down, but only from the breakneck pace on display here. Of course, a few more brisk jaunts like this on occasion wouldn’t have met with many complaints from me.

There have been a good number of versions of Brown Eyed Women that have made it onto record. Any other favorites? Leave yours in the comments.

Right out of the gate this song is being played at a much quicker tempo. Billy is right out in front and his snare sounds killer. The sound is pretty thin to start but fills out nicely after 30 seconds or so.

As Jerry sings this one it’s almost Dylan-esque, like he took a deep breath and is just trying to get all the words out before having to breath again. It sounds like someone is playing a tambourine for a while, or is that just me? Regardless, I like it – adds a cool dynamic to this version.

It seems as though our visit to a tumbledown shack in Big Foot County wasn’t on the itinerary for this evening. I don’t know when they added that bridge to the song, but it had to have been sometime between the fall of 71 and spring of 72. As we re-visit the first verse, the sound gets a bit sparse again, mainly just Billy, Phil, and at least one of the guitars. Everyone rejoins for the final chorus and all of a sudden it’s over. Phew! A break-neck version of Brown Eyed Women for sure.

Complete Setlist 8/24/71

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  1. Hmmm. Here is a disjointed, early take on this soon-to-be classic. The groove is too fast and the subtleties are lost, but as a glimpse into the evolution of the song, this is Just Exactly Perfect. Even the vocal phrasing has not settled in here. There are “13 children” rather than “8 boys” and other deviations that will make you smile. It is all over way too fast, but fast forward just a few months to see what they could do with this one.

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