JERRY ON SONGWRITING?

Musical Theory Abound!!!

JERRY ON SONGWRITING?

Postby charliehornsby » Wed Apr 08, 2009 2:13 pm

guys, i'm a singer songwriter/huge dead fan and i loved Jerry's songwriting and his collaborations with Hunter. i am looking for insight into Jerry's writing process. The Dead are often celebrated for their psychodelic musicanship, but not so much recognized for, what to me, is their true gift, great songs. incredible melodies and stories. i was just hoping to find interviews or quotes or anything that might give insight to how Jerry approached songwriting. thank you!
charliehornsby
tiger
tiger
 
Posts: 24
Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 3:11 am

Re: JERRY ON SONGWRITING?

Postby prephippie » Wed Apr 08, 2009 7:28 pm

Lots of stuff in this audio clip of an interview with Jerry in 1982:

http://concerts.wolfgangsvault.com/dt/jerry-garcia-concert/20050252-3264.html

You'll have to sign up for the website to listen, but it's a great site. They have tons of legendary concert recordings that are free to stream.

Jerry Garcia is in fine form for the entire hour of the interview presented here. Cheerful, thoughtful, talkative, rational, and funny, Jerry is able to cover a lot of ground. This, in turn, allows Lisa Robinson to pose questions as more of a Deadhead than an interviewer, which makes for a great chat.

Recorded amidst a tour with the Dead and a scattering of solo acoustic shows, the goings on of all of Jerry's projects at the time serve as the impetus for the interview. But once the two get going, the talk meanders effortlessly through a number of topics covering his life, career, and outlook on life, making this a must-listen for any Jerry fan.

00:00 – New generations of Deadheads
01:30 – The Dead absorbing change to get stronger as a band
02:55 – Remaining true to themselves in order to continue to succeed
03:45 – The Dead experience: more than the music, but less than religion
04:41 – The celebratory nature of music
06:24 – Avoiding power
08:32 – Getting through off nights
09:56 – The audience discerning off nights
11:00 – Keeping performances fresh
12:04 – Adjustments made for the current tour
12:51 – Jerry’s solo career / difference between the JGB and the Dead
14:56 – How the Grateful Dead keeps him off balance
16:35 – Why he has his own band
17:18 – The solo acoustic shows / singing / the suggestion of John Scher
19:17 – A emotional relationship to songs / understanding the meaning of the lyrics
20:38 – Not listening to lyrics / not thinking about his voice when songwriting
21:43 – Exhausting the ability to imagine
22:08 – Relationship between drugs and music
23:28 – The cartoon image of the Grateful Dead / the changing drug culture
25:16 – Temperance in Jerry’s drug use
26:28 – The Dead’s interaction with the record industry
29:44 – The structure of the Dead organization / less organized than ever
32:05 – Taping the shows
33:24 – Capturing the live vibe on a studio recording
34:12 – Approaches to studio recording
34:51 – Making Workingman’s Dead
36:14 – How Jerry writes / writing with Robert Hunter
39:05 – Alternative career ambitions / getting his first guitar
40:14 – Losing his finger: ramifications, the story
41:46 – The guitar Jerry uses
42:44 – Practicing the guitar every day / Dead rehearsals
44:50 – The possibility (and impossibility) of the Dead disbanding
45:58 – Solo projects / how to kill the Dead
47:36 – Becoming a more serious musician
48:09 – What music Jerry listens to
48:53 – Reaction to New Wave music
49:59 – On-the-job training / the function of youth
52:03 – Barricades in the way of enjoying newer genres of music
53:53 – Conventional vs. unconventional aspects of the Dead and Jerry
57:52 – Problems and solutions with playing at arenas / reminiscing about the Fillmores
58:55 – OUTTAKE: ambitions for Dead videos
"Play yo guitar."
-Pigpen 8/6/71
prephippie
Ice Cream!
Ice Cream!
 
Posts: 123
Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2007 4:28 pm
Location: Auburn, AL

Re: JERRY ON SONGWRITING?

Postby caspersvapors » Wed Apr 08, 2009 9:34 pm

ill paraphrase what i remember from many interviews ive read on jerry describing his songwriting

he would meet up hunter and rummage through any new stuff hunter had written and if the lyrics struck a chord with him he would use em. he composed on the piano starting with rough melodic ideas. i remember him saying he really had to work hard on his songs and it took him a while adding that he wasnt extraordinarily creative.

thats all i remember off the top of my head.
Image
User avatar
caspersvapors
Senior Member
 
Posts: 1305
Joined: Fri Mar 03, 2006 1:58 pm

Re: JERRY ON SONGWRITING?

Postby EsteemedLocomotive » Wed Apr 08, 2009 9:36 pm

thanks for this lots!
"I forget what happened after that... Oh yeah I remember! Right, right after that running down the beach, a pack of germean shepherds chased by a mad sea serpent that had crawled out of the..." -Weir 12/18/73
EsteemedLocomotive
Rosebud
Rosebud
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Wed Apr 01, 2009 10:24 am

Re: JERRY ON SONGWRITING?

Postby charliehornsby » Thu Apr 09, 2009 1:03 pm

wow. that's beautiful. thank you so much for adding that. the thought of Jerry "struggling" to be creative, is something i can't quite wrap my arms around. i mean, he just seems like the example of creativity. as a songwriter, i am constantly flogging myself with the idea that it's never good enough and that i'm not getting anywhere. to hear that Jerry had similar struggles is some kind of comfort.

i would love to find those interviews that you've read. although, i deeply appreciate you passing the summary along to us.

thank you!
charliehornsby
tiger
tiger
 
Posts: 24
Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 3:11 am

Re: JERRY ON SONGWRITING?

Postby caspersvapors » Thu Apr 09, 2009 4:05 pm

conversations with the dead is a great interview book that i think has some of the stuff i mentioned

also theres some interviews on the net, just type in jerry garcia interview or something and youll find some stuff
Image
User avatar
caspersvapors
Senior Member
 
Posts: 1305
Joined: Fri Mar 03, 2006 1:58 pm

Re: JERRY ON SONGWRITING?

Postby caspersvapors » Thu Apr 09, 2009 4:07 pm

prephippie wrote:Lots of stuff in this audio clip of an interview with Jerry in 1982:

http://concerts.wolfgangsvault.com/dt/jerry-garcia-concert/20050252-3264.html

You'll have to sign up for the website to listen, but it's a great site. They have tons of legendary concert recordings that are free to stream.

Jerry Garcia is in fine form for the entire hour of the interview presented here. Cheerful, thoughtful, talkative, rational, and funny, Jerry is able to cover a lot of ground. This, in turn, allows Lisa Robinson to pose questions as more of a Deadhead than an interviewer, which makes for a great chat.

Recorded amidst a tour with the Dead and a scattering of solo acoustic shows, the goings on of all of Jerry's projects at the time serve as the impetus for the interview. But once the two get going, the talk meanders effortlessly through a number of topics covering his life, career, and outlook on life, making this a must-listen for any Jerry fan.

00:00 – New generations of Deadheads
01:30 – The Dead absorbing change to get stronger as a band
02:55 – Remaining true to themselves in order to continue to succeed
03:45 – The Dead experience: more than the music, but less than religion
04:41 – The celebratory nature of music
06:24 – Avoiding power
08:32 – Getting through off nights
09:56 – The audience discerning off nights
11:00 – Keeping performances fresh
12:04 – Adjustments made for the current tour
12:51 – Jerry’s solo career / difference between the JGB and the Dead
14:56 – How the Grateful Dead keeps him off balance
16:35 – Why he has his own band
17:18 – The solo acoustic shows / singing / the suggestion of John Scher
19:17 – A emotional relationship to songs / understanding the meaning of the lyrics
20:38 – Not listening to lyrics / not thinking about his voice when songwriting
21:43 – Exhausting the ability to imagine
22:08 – Relationship between drugs and music
23:28 – The cartoon image of the Grateful Dead / the changing drug culture
25:16 – Temperance in Jerry’s drug use
26:28 – The Dead’s interaction with the record industry
29:44 – The structure of the Dead organization / less organized than ever
32:05 – Taping the shows
33:24 – Capturing the live vibe on a studio recording
34:12 – Approaches to studio recording
34:51 – Making Workingman’s Dead
36:14 – How Jerry writes / writing with Robert Hunter
39:05 – Alternative career ambitions / getting his first guitar
40:14 – Losing his finger: ramifications, the story
41:46 – The guitar Jerry uses
42:44 – Practicing the guitar every day / Dead rehearsals
44:50 – The possibility (and impossibility) of the Dead disbanding
45:58 – Solo projects / how to kill the Dead
47:36 – Becoming a more serious musician
48:09 – What music Jerry listens to
48:53 – Reaction to New Wave music
49:59 – On-the-job training / the function of youth
52:03 – Barricades in the way of enjoying newer genres of music
53:53 – Conventional vs. unconventional aspects of the Dead and Jerry
57:52 – Problems and solutions with playing at arenas / reminiscing about the Fillmores
58:55 – OUTTAKE: ambitions for Dead videos



i definitely need to check this out later
Image
User avatar
caspersvapors
Senior Member
 
Posts: 1305
Joined: Fri Mar 03, 2006 1:58 pm

Re: JERRY ON SONGWRITING?

Postby charliehornsby » Mon Sep 07, 2015 2:34 pm

keep it coming!
charliehornsby
tiger
tiger
 
Posts: 24
Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 3:11 am

Re: JERRY ON SONGWRITING?

Postby TI4-1009 » Mon Sep 07, 2015 5:19 pm

"You mentioned writing some new material. Why do the Dead seem to have such difficulty writing songs these days?

Well, I don't write them unless I absolutely have to. I don't wake up in the morning and say: "Jeez, I feel great today. I think I'll write a song." I mean, anything is more interesting to me than writing a song. It's like "I think I'd like to write a song…. No, I guess I better go feed the cat first." You know what I mean? It's like pulling teeth. I don't enjoy it a bit.

I don't think I've ever actually written from inspiration, actually had a song just go bing! I only recall that happening to me twice — once was with "Terrapin" and the other was "Wharf Rat." I mean, that's twice in a lifetime of writing!

What about when you made Workingman's Dead and American Beauty? Those two albums are full of great songs, and they both came out in 1970.

Well, Robert Hunter [Garcia's lyricist] and I were living together then, so that made it real easy. Sheer proximity. See, the way Hunter and I work now is that we get together for like a week or two, and it's like the classic songwriting thing. I bang away on a piano or a guitar, and I scat phrasing to him or lyrics, and he writes down ideas. And we try stuff.

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/ ... z3l6MnPkIk
"Do not write so that you can be understood, write so that you cannot be misunderstood." -Epictetus

First show: 8/16/69 (Woodstock)
Last show: 3/19/95 (Unbroken Chain breakout)
Member of the Four-Decade Club
Charter Member, President & CEO of OAD (Order of the Ancient Deadheads)
User avatar
TI4-1009
Senior Member
 
Posts: 1846
Joined: Fri Aug 20, 2010 6:27 am
Location: Upstate NY- Toodaloo

Re: JERRY ON SONGWRITING?

Postby Geoff Stockton » Wed Dec 02, 2015 8:19 pm

I've been a Dead-fan since 1993 and a musician since 1989. I've read much regarding Jerry on songwriting over the years and this is the impression I got:

Jerry was a knowledge hound. Any bit of theoretical knowledge he could get his hands on, he would assimilate. He had a greater understanding of harmony and chromaticism than most people in the realm of rock&roll. His melodies were almost always incredibly chord-conscious to the point where the chord changes can in many cases reveal themselves in the unaccompanied melody. This he got from his time spent mastering the craft of bluegrass but it was a skill that greatly helped him when he got into learning jazz standards with Merle Saunders and the like.

It was this immersion into jazz standards that really harmonically enriched him. He seemed to have a pretty solid head for the theory that backs up all of that wild chromatic harmony. Consider the progression from "Crazy Fingers" for instance. Nobody is going to write something like that, who hasn't first immersed themselves in the craft of classic pop songwriting from the 1930s-1950s.

If you're looking for a good resource to gain the skill set necessary to write in a similar style, you might want to check out The Big Serious Guitar Book on Lulu.com. I wrote it a couple years ago and it's written with people like you in mind. It's VERY complete, 500 pages or more. I tackle the crafts of melody writing, chord progression building, improvising, etc.

Here's a link for it:
http://www.lulu.com/shop/geoff-stockton ... 76414.html

You can check out some free PDF samples on my website, here:
http://www.geoffstocktonmusic.com/#!geo ... ction/ck0q

I just released a psychedelic roots-rock album so if you want to hear whether I know what I'm talking about, go to my YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/user/geoffstockton

Happy travels, friend!
Geoff Stockton
Vince
Vince
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2015 1:09 pm


Return to The Think Tank II

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest