Ripple ~ Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead were an American rock band formed in 1965 in the San Francisco Bay Area. The band was known for its unique and eclectic style, which fused elements of rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, reggae, country, jazz, psychedelia, space rock and gospel-and for live performances of long musical improvisation. “Their music,” writes Lenny Kaye, “touches on ground that most other groups don’t even know exists.”

The Grateful Dead’s fans, some of whom followed the band from concert to concert for years, are known as Deadheads and have been renowned for their dedication to the band’s music. Many fans referred to the band simply as “the Dead”. As of 2003, the remaining band members who had been touring under the name “The Other Ones” changed their official group name to “The Dead”. Deadheads continue to use the nickname to refer to all versions of the band.

Their musical influences varied widely; in concert recordings or on record albums one can hear psychedelic rock (in the late sixties), the blues, rock nuggets, country-western, bluegrass, country-rock, and although they rarely played jazz music, the band certainly borrowed for their music the kind of long improvisatory sequences that jazz artists such as Charles Mingus and John Coltrane perfected in the 1950s and 1960s. These various influences were distilled into a diverse and psychedelic whole that made the Grateful Dead “the pioneering Godfathers of the jam band world.”

Ripple

Ripple is the sixth song on the Grateful Dead album American Beauty. It was released as the B-side to the single “Truckin'”.

Robert Hunter, wrote this song in 1970 in London in the same afternoon he wrote “Brokedown Palace” and “To Lay Me Down” (reputedly also drinking an entire bottle of retsina in the process). The song debuted August 18, 1970 at Fillmore West in San Francisco. Jerry Garcia wrote the music to this song.

Several lines throughout the song echo the 23rd Psalm of the Bible.

If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung,
Would you hear my voice come thru the music,
Would you hold it near as it were your own?

It’s a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken,
Perhaps they’re better left unsung.
I don’t know, don’t really care
Let there be songs to fill the air.

Ripple in still water,
When there is no pebble tossed,
Nor wind to blow.

Reach out your hand if your cup be empty,
If your cup is full may it be again,
Let it be known there is a fountain,
That was not made by the hands of men.

There is a road, no simple highway,
Between the dawn and the dark of night,
And if you go no one may follow,
That path is for your steps alone.

Ripple in still water,
When there is no pebble tossed,
Nor wind to blow.

But if you fall you fall alone,
If you should stand then who’s to guide you?
If I knew the way I would take you home.

La dee da da da, la da da da da, da da da, da da, da da da da da
La da da da, la da da, da da, la da da da, la da, da da.

  • Audio from the 1970 album, American Beauty:

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About DJ Allyn

DJ Allyn is a burned out radio guy who went on to become a burned out sound engineer for a few Seattle area grunge bands in the 1980s and 1990s. Left the madness of worldwide tours with bands, cleaned up my act and went into the relative sanity of sound engineering for television series. Currently working as the Director of Sound for a television series being filmed in North Vancouver, British Columbia. I am always on the lookout for interesting videos, old music, and fun.

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