The Dead were famous for NOT espousing or supporting a specific political preference, at least while Jerry was alive, and that’s why this is so surprising to me. I don’t know if the this dedication was intended to recognize the failure of democracy (Sands was elected to Parliament while in the Maze prison), the fact that the British government refused to recognize Sands as a political prisoner, hence the blanket protest, or if this was a commentary on the human rights aspect of the issue. Regardless, as someone well-versed in Irish history it shocking that Weir would give a shout out to a member of the IRA during that organization’s most active period. At the end of the day there’s a lot to decode here and more questions than answers. Whatever the intention was, it certainly wasn’t as pro-Republican (in the Irish sense) as some other music of the period, such as Christy Moore’s Spirit of Freedom album, which included renditions of two songs written by Sands, “Back Home In Derry”, and “McIlhatton”.
I missed the anniversary of Day 91 by a mere day, but this one I hit right on the nose, 33rd anniversary. How’s that for a make up?
Other versions of He’s Gone I should consider for this project? Let me know in the comments.
In general I think the vocals sound really good here, and Brent and Jerry blend nicely. Some nice harmonics after the 2nd chorus before the solo – I always love well placed, and well-used harmonics. Jerry’s solo dances around the main melody, but quickly takes flights of fancy once the primary idea is stated. The fellas are a tad out of sync singing once they get to the bridge, but you can tell there a little something extra in this version.
Weir continues to impress me as this project progresses. He plays so many interesting figures and this He’s Gone is no exception. He tactfully walks the line between the role of a rhythm guitar and the needs of a band like the Dead.
As we get to the vocal outro Bobby and Jerry trade off ad libs, the former vocally and the latter via the six string. Someone’s busted out a slide, adding some very tasteful tones that almost sound like volume swells. Brent punctuates the vocal jam with some key fills, as well. Brent, Jerry, and Bob all seem to be doing their own thing yet not stepping on each others toes. It’s quite a feat. As He’s Gone segues into a Spanish Jam he manages to get off a few extra licks just dripping with the blues.