Day 87: Turn On Your Lovelight, 2/14/68

Grateful Dead Road Trips 2.2 album cover artwork

On the heels of yesterday’s discussion of raps in Dead songs with Blow Away I submit exhibit B in the discussion.

This version of Turn On Your Lovelight does NOT contain one of Pigpen’s famous raps and I, for one, don’t think the song suffers at all for it.

This version is certainly more concise than some others that stretch over the 20 minute mark, but the absence of the rap lets the band get down to brass tacks and say what they need to say. All killer, no filler.

Your mileage may vary, of course. Let me know in the comments what you think.

This one spills right out of The Eleven and the band tears right into Lovelight. Some nice, choppy guitar and steady Vox organ set the foundation. Pigpen steps up to the mic and delivers while Jerry weaves some fluid lines underneath. Only the drummers remain for the verse break, and the 2nd verse is all Pig and the percussionists. “Let it shine” is the cue for everyone to come back in and they slam back into the song and don’t look back.

Again it’s Jerry and Pigpen who seem to lead the group effort here, but Bobby does add some groovy over-driven guitar work as well. The guitars continue to build. It sounds like they’re doing a bit of Allman-esque harmonizing in there a bit as Pigpen continues to work his way through the vocal sections. During the next percussion break you can hear a few vocal false starts from Pigpen. Finally he starts in, and Jerry and Bob join in for some call and response, adding a classic R&B/Soul motif to this psychedelic rocker. After mellowing out a bit, the band begins to build again around the 7 minute mark. Jerry muffs the beginning but eventually offers some guitar commentary, while Bobby cuts and slashes in his own right. The song ends on a high note, with that old familiar chord progression before the band draws it out. A brief “thank you” from Pig seals the deal.

Complete Setlist 2/14/68

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  1. Pig handles the opening, still sounding more mild than he might have. The band leaves a gap for some drums and the lead vocals overlay them before the rest of the band busts back in hugely. A hot jam is kept short, then another verse rocks us to a full drum breakdown. Next up, call-and-response between Pigpen and the others. The build begins yet again. Hear the band learn how to do this right before your very ears. Weir and McKernan rave it up vocally with Garcia’s help on guitar. Uncertain of how to jam this thing for any longer, the band winds it up with the theme figures and ends it with a big, feedbacky crescendo. Pig gives thanks.

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