Albums: The Grateful Dead,”American Beauty,” and “Day of The Dead” (A Grateful Dead Tribute Album), Various Artists

About three weeks ago, I had a conversation with a young colleague, Paul, who wished aloud that the music of today sounded more like how music used to sound, in those formative days of rock and roll, punk, electronic, and hip-hop: the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and early 2000’s.

Hearing one so young, a mere millennial, voice such a sentiment really got me thinking….first off, that of course I had to immediately begin crafting a playlist for young Paul that featured new artists who are paying homage, and adding new twists, to the classic sounds we old-schoolers love so well (and don’t worry, kids, of course I will post that shit as soon as I finish it ❤ ); and, secondly, that perhaps in this digital age of streaming and downloading music, that perhaps the art form of the complete album, and the practice of listening to an entire album, start to finish, might be fast becoming a lost art.

It seemed, to me, that aside from those discerning, committed music lovers who work hard to assemble and maintain their enviable collections of vinyl, that perhaps many of the younger peeps of this world may not have the same relationship with entire albums as I did growing up.  See, gang, for me, listening to a certain album can take me back, immediately, to a key moments, periods, turning points, of my life.

Listening to some albums takes me right back to being a kid, sitting on the threadbare rug of our living room floor, in front of the turntable, with its dusty speakers, and console boasting the stacked, leaning records of our family’s collection.

Some of the album sleeves in that collection were empty, the record inside long gone or borrowed, never to return.  Some of the records were so badly scratched, marred, or warped from the heat that they weren’t worth playing any longer, but some deep attachment, or nostalgia, kept us from throwing away the empty sleeves.

As the songs, albums played, the needle bobbing and dipping on the spinning record, I stared for hours at the liner notes, the pictures, the song lyrics as I sang or mouthed along to whatever track I was rocking at the time.  Mostly, I was in my own world, the song becoming the soundtrack to my own private story, as I listened, and read, and memorized each lyric, each picture, and dreamed.

Some albums take me back to later years, as I began my journey into young adulthood, where a certain album became the soundtrack to a new year, a new love, another breakup, another chapter in the story of a life. 

The story of my life.

Thinking of albums, and life stories, and young Paul, made me wonder about the young people of today’s world, and wonder if they listen to entire albums often, or it they mirror my personal playlist activity, and mostly assemble their own playlists, and, basically, make their own albums.

Do you guys listen to complete albums?

Of course, as one who loves the new, and the old, with equal and fervent abandon, I embrace all of it…singles, albums, playlists, remixes.

But, I do love the art form of the complete album.  I love the hit tracks, the filler tracks, the Top 2o and the B sides.

So, there I was, thinking about young Paul, and albums, as I worked feverishly on, and, finally, published my post on TWD Ep 616, “Last Day On Earth.”

As I coasted on my post-publishing high, and tried to start my very first full TWD Marathon, I got waylaid by “Stranger Things,” and immediately developed an intense, stricken love and obsession with Eleven, and the 80′s genre everything and soundtrack of #StrangerThings….and, in full circle, that experience got me thinking about album again.

And, so, as I went about my life, and clutched my pillow through “Stranger Things,” and reminisced, and grooved on the soundtrack, I thought more and more about albums, and revisited many moments in the story of my life, especially circa 1980’s, when I was a little girl with short hair, who everybody thought was a boy.

It was during this time that I got the news that another favorite Paul of mine, Paul D., one of the most masterful, kind, influential teachers I ever learned from, had suffered a massive heart attack, and left this Earth.

Paul D. was, in one friend’s words, “a wizard,” a true teacher who left his legacy of warmth, wit, and wisdom with many on this earth. Think “Albus Dumbledore,” but shorter, with a mostly-salt-some-pepper beard and a merry, mischievous twinkle in his eye as he regaled students and peers with the love, logistics, and lore of Anatomy & Physiology.

Somehow, Paul D. effortlessly parallelled the workings of the human body on the most minute, cellular levels with the workings of the infinite, the cosmos. Paul D. always brought it back around, in a language that everyone could understand…and that is the making of a great teacher.

Three Paul D. wisdoms which have remained on heavy rotation in the soundtrack of my life:

“It’s all connected.”

“More on that, later.”

“Changes will be made.”

So, imagine my surprise, and delight, dear readers, when the beautiful, heartfelt memorial held for the elder Paul, Paul D. featured  a couple of my very favorite Grateful Dead songs: “Uncle John’s Band,” and, “Ripple,” which I, myself, had just featured at the end of my first, original playlist for my post on TWD Ep. 616, “Last Day On Earth.”

As I sang the words to “Ripple” along with the other fine men and women, of all ages, at the memorial service, I thought to myself, “You were right, Paul Dit really is all connected!

And, that’s when I knew, dear readers, what album(s) I wanted to feature for my first post on my Summer of ’16 Album Series.

Dedicated to young Paul, and for Paul D., may I present The Grateful Dead’s classic album, “American Beauty,” followed by the amazing tribute ablum to the Grateful Dead, “Day Of The Dead,” an assortment of Grateful Dead classic tracks (curated by Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National) revisited, revamped, and reinterpreted, by some of the finest musical artists of today, to re-introduce the music of the Grateful Dead to a new listening audience.

More on that later, friends, because it truly is all connected, and changes, will, indeed be made.

Enjoy.  

 

 

 

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