Sunday, November 3, 2013

My Favorite Sunday Morning Album - Old & In The Way - S/T

This self-titled album fronted by David Grisman and Jerry Garcia was recorded forty years ago and it has been helping people to come down for almost as many years. My parents were fans of bluegrass, my dad was a trucker so I assume he was a fan of grass and ass too. I don’t go up to much these days, staying up late generally has the same effect. At least I’m not a baker anymore. Hitting an alarm set for one thirty in the morning is like hitting yourself in the face with a bat. Truckers go all night though. They walk with the bat, live the bat. When you’ve been hit like that you just check out. When you’re a trucker’s kid you learn to check out too. You could take acid and have parties at your parents house when they’re gone. Dad is always gone. You can also stay up all night and listen to dad’s copy of Old & In The Way.

Old & In The Way is just great bluegrass. No noodling around from Captain Trips or Dawg. The vocals are never too pitchy yet a sense of melancholy haunts these songs. This album sounds like the door to a painful chapter of American closing for good. Stuck on the other side they had to keep moving forward, but how? These guys went off the high dive, into the void. How does one return to the stark and sometimes tragic world of Altamont and Manson? With the help of the community. This is a live album, the room feels warm, everyone there comfortable with the set and yelling requests (play Jerry’s Breakdown!) between songs.

This was The Dead but decidedly different. Full on noodling would finally prevail but we still hear clear and distinct songs on this album. It was also the top selling bluegrass album of all time until it was knocked off the charts in 2000, that’s a lot of people taking part in the community they formed. On a Sunday morning when you’ve been to outer space it’s nice to find a safe place to inhabit once you are back. On October 8th 1973, when I was 21 days old, some crusty hippies got together with some friends and made the soundtrack to frizzle fry. They birthed perfect bluegrass for hippies and good ole disenchanted freaks,unsure of what the future holds.

As a child I would look at the illustrated cover the way one would a picture book. As I got a little older it occurred to me that tracks like Panama Red could have two meanings. not long after that I realized this album was made for listening to while coming down. It’s pleasant to the ear and only a little energetic. It came out forty years ago this month, October eighth 1973. I’m thrilled to celebrate its four decades of grassy waves. Their cover of Wild Horses is one of the most beautiful and haunting renditions of a Stones song I’ve ever heard. Easily worth the price of the admission. They transcend their genre in the way that Poco or New Riders Of The Purple Sage could. If it’s Sunday morning , smash your alarm clock. When you wake up, play some Americana. Spin Old & In The Way. It fixes what’s wrong.

--Plague Rat

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