Friday, March 22, 2013

Kind Tune of the Moment

Jerry Garcia, Mission in the Rain

One of Jerry's finest songs, it originally appeared on his solo album Reflections, released in 1976, and recorded with much of the Grateful Dead as backing musicians, along with members of his solo band. He only played it with the Dead 5 times in 1976, the final time at a show in Chicago. It's a shame the Dead didn't keep it in the repetoire, but with its delicate gospel feel, it made more sense  in the Jerry Garcia Band, with backing female vocals. Here's a great video of the Jerry Band playing the song in 1978:

Video of the whole show can be seen here. A great show overall, unfortunately the opening Jimmy Cliff tune The Harder They Come is not included in the video.

Mission In The Rain
Russian Lullaby 11:02
Tore Up Over You 23:10
Love In The Afternoon 34:45
I'll Be With Thee 46:43
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down 52:11
Rhapsody In Red 1:02:28

This incarnation of the band included Keith and Donna, on piano and vocals repectively, as well as Maria Muldaur on backing vocals. 


The Annotated Grateful Dead website has some great comments on the song and it's possible meanings. Garcia described the song as being autobiograhpical. Although Hunter was the author, Garcia clearly connected to it, a more first-person version of Wharf Rat. 

I turn and walk away
then I come round again
It looks as though tomorrow
I'll do very much the same

I must turn down your offer
but I'd like to ask a break
You know I'm ready to give everything
for anything I take

Someone called my name
You know, I turned around to see
It was midnight in the Mission
and the bells were not for me

Come again
Walking along in the Mission in the rain
Come again
Walking along in the Mission in the rain

Ten years ago I walked this street
my dreams were ridin tall
Tonight I would be thankful
Lord, for any dream at all

Some folks would be happy
just to have one dream come true
but everything you gather
is just more that you can lose

Come again
Walking along in the Mission in the rain
Come again
Walking along in the Mission in the rain

All the things I planned to do
I only did half way
Tomorrow will be Sunday
born of rainy Saturday

There's some satisfaction
in the San Francisco rain
No matter what comes down
the Mission always looks the same

Come again
Walking along in the Mission in the rain
Come again
Walking along in the Mission in the rain

It's the kind of bittersweet lyric that Garcia mastered; a person down on his luck, reflecting on life, what could've been, looking for redemption, turning down the temptation of hookers who can provide a moment of escape. Here's a late era version of the tune from 1992, performed not far from where the song was based:


Following Jerry's death, Ween lifted much of the music and feel of Mission for their tune So Long Jerry, still the best tribute to Garcia I've come across since his death. Here's their studio version of the tune, an outtake from the 12 Golden Country Greats album, and here's a nice stripped down version, just Gener on acoustic and vocals, and Dave on bass:


I picked up my things and went outside
A man that I loved up and died
I couldn't believe that after all of this time
I never knew the man but he was a good friend of mine
So long, i'll see you down that long dark river
Floating on that lining in the sky
I'm lucky, lucky enough to have heard you play your song
So long, Jerry, so long

Always be together
Rolling down the track
Always and forever
Never lookin' back
I got my guitar and went to the river
Saw alot of people just dancin' around
I took off my shirt and jumped in the water
  You always flew so high, now you've finally left the ground
So long, i'll see you down that long dark river
Floating on that lining in the sky
I'm lucky, lucky enough to have heard you sing your song

So long, Jerry, so long

So long, Jerry, so long