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Not Sure Where To Begin?

The intro posts are always a good start, followed logically by
my thoughts on Music & Being, which guide my writing.
You could also try my current favorite show on the blog,
plus there's good reading under the trading community label.
Or, take a walk on a
Listening Trail.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Listening Trails

When this site started in February, 2008, I likened the collection of Grateful Dead recordings available online to a vast sea in which folks needed help navigating. The Listening Guide was conceived as something of a combined compass, rudder, sextant, and ocean map, all aimed at helping people navigate the waters.

Over time, this site itself has grown into something of a sea of its own. And I can’t help but wonder if, despite the handy label cloud of tag links and the personal hand holding fun of the Podcast Series, newcomers arrive here with a sense of uncertainty regarding where to step first, let alone, second. Since these steps were precisely the inspiration which lead to the creation of the Grateful Dead Listening Guide, I’ve decided to add a new layer to site’s information, aimed at easing confusion and making the first steps, and those thereafter, somewhat easier: Listening Trails.

Working with the vision of the Dead's vast music collection as more of a National Park than an ocean of water, it seems appropriate that visitors to the park should be handed a map of trails to consider following. Just as is found when visiting most any natural wonder, we typically are encouraged to follow some well worn, and satisfying paths that have given previous visitors pleasure, rather than just being cut loose to tackle a mountain side, waterfall, or forest rather blindly. And, there should be the occasional park ranger found along the way to point out particularly pleasant viewing stations here and there.

Some listening trails you could walk in a day, while you might find it best to walk others over the period of weeks, camping out at particular shows for extended introspection. However you travel, my hope is that these trails will serve folks well, and always make the daunting task of confronting the Grateful Dead’s musical collection less, well… daunting.

As the trails are built, I’ll try to keep a list of them within handy arm's reach of new (and old) comers. I have a good handful of trail subjects in mind to get started which I believe will help visitors make the best use of the Grateful Dead Listening Guide. I’m sure more will be built as time goes on, and as the GDLG “park” continues to expand.

You’ll find all the trails filtered under a new label link in the cloud called: Listening Trails. Here’s to some enjoyable travels.


  1. I am really enjoying the listening trails selections you have put together.
    Thank you and I hope there will be more.

  2. Hi,

    greetings from sunny Poland :).

    Could anyone is able (at least barely) help me out with typing best Grateful Dead recordings from their official live catalogue from 1965 thru 1980? Maybe you want to know why I typed just these particular dates. The reason is quite simple: for me these years are the most significant and best eras in group's entire history and even if Brent Mydland and Vince Welnick were great keyboardists, GD was never the same group as they've crossed through 1980s. The music has changed, the world has turned into new era and thus the music of TGD also have changed. Speaking strictly, these years are no doubt my favourite ones.

    If below abbreviations used, is it really possible to type (or at least talk) 2 particular titles per each year? I've tried to create simplest classification as I can but I am aware using the word 'simple" regarding to the GD music (and especially to live material) is at least unsatisfactory speak. So, to be not groundless, here are 4 classes I am sorting GD shows I am keen to get:

    1) the show must be definitely "on"; we all know GD played literally tons of shows and sometimes group wasn't enough fresh and rested to perform top quality show (for example, years 1972 and 1973 are much 'less' vigor-uish, not only the band had started experiencing problems with great late Pigpen but also pulled out into new direction: after few very light/soft albums inspired much by American folk music, they started going much more progressive but it was a new land for them and "Wake of the Flood" period is kinda 'blurred' if u take my meaning; departure of Mickey Hart also limited their sound*).

    2) the show must include rarely performed songs or songs in versions that are unique and significant for some particular reasons; for me a good example of what I am trying to explain is farewell concert that took place on Bill Graham's Winterland in year 1978; a special 'fourth' set was arranged in last minute with special guests (John Cipolina, Lee Oscar etc.) and for an hour we all came back to the golden years of West Coast culture; this show gently mixing their progressive era along with earlier works and for me it's exceptional.

    3) historical value of the show (ie. closing of Fillmore West or East etc.); on this particular model choosing something shouldn't be as much difficult as I suppose.

    4) the show that is representative especially due to the fact the band performed songs that are freshly written and are showing up for the very first time and are introduced to the live audience.

    Many might said just grab few titles and goes on - if you do not like'em you're not a true Deadhead but they're wrong I do believe. Everyone has its own unique tastes and everyone's enjoying diffferent shows. Personally I am preferring more dynamic GD shows (but to be not so greedy, the San Francisco 1975 date released years ago on their "Vault" series is more than briliant; for me it's the most brilliant and brightest moments of American music ever recorded and the shows itself is just amazing).

    Well, I hope I am not asking for something difficult for you and I am sure we'll talk more about GD soon. And please remember - I am looking for their official catalogue (ie. Dick's Picks, Road Trips etc.), not aud's/sbd's torrented widely (got plenty of them). Reason? Top quality multi-track mixdowns, professional edits.

    Thx in advance,

  3. Just delete my previous post...I wrote it before as I found those great downloads up here!

    Thx for all your effort and keep up with your excellent work! Now i have possibility to hear probably most important Dead shows without any problems! This is what I've dreamed about for many years.

    Greetings from Poland,

  4. This site has been fantastic. I have found so much great stuff and feel that I moved to a higher plane of appreciation of the dead. I saw them for the first time in Frost Amphitheatre in the 80's and recently saw Furthur at Shoreline. Even though I have seen them several times, and had a stack of CD's, it wasn't until I went through these "Trails" and podcasts, that I think I finally got it. The Dead are no longer one of the bands I like, they are now one of the bands I love! Thanks so much!

    I have a suggestion for another "Trail" or "Podcast". I have a few recordings of Jerry guest playing with other artists, and other artists guest playing with the Dead. I think some of these recordings are very special. I would really appreciate a "Guest appearance" collection that captures some of those magical moments when the paths of great artists cross.

    Thanks again for putting together this great site!


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