19 October 2006

8+

“Terrapin Station" by Grateful Dead which clocks in at 16:17

This isn't what it looks like - it's not what you're thinking. I'm not going to suddenly go all peacegrass hippielove jambandjamband on you, and I'm not going to try and tell you how The Dead is, like, totally one of the best bands ever man. I'm kinda finally giving in to the demands of the people. See, many a person has emailed suggesting various songs by The Dead but this notion (for the most part) flies right in the face of my one self-imposed rule here in 8+ world. Namely, that live versions of songs are not allowed simply because short songs often turn into long songs in the realm of the live concert and I've always been after songs that were designed to be longer than eight minutes from the get go.

Now, as we all know, Grateful Dead fans deem their studio songs to be much less noteworthy than live recordings of their work but I'm not going to stray from my own guideline. Plus, this is one of my favorite songs by this band anyway and the live versions don't quite live up to what they laid down in this studio version. If you guys want a Grateful Dead song on EF's 8+ it's going to have to be a studio version. Deal well my long haired friends...

In 1995 I had just moved in to a house with three friends. I was fresh out of a dorm and living in my first off-campus house and loving it. All of it except for the music of course. See, I was a brit-pop indie-rock loving snob of sorts and my new roommates were more of the Grateful Dead, Doors, Stones and Beatles ilk. Not that there's anything wrong with liking music of that sort (in fact we loved many of the same classic rock bands at the time) it's just that I was outnumbered 3 to 1. My music was to have no place in public in that house, thus, it was very often hippie-jam-fest time.

Back then I'd not so much as really ever listened to anything by the Dead but I just knew I didn't like it. "Too smelly", I used to think. Then one day after listening to Europe '72 many times in a row (much like a prisoner who finds Jesus after being allowed to read only one book in prison) I finally realized that I did indeed like the Grateful Dead. I realized that I might actually need to go see these guys in concert, but my roommates had already bought tickets. They asked me at the time if I wanted a ticket and I said "No, now go away and wash your hair". Silly me. How was I to know this was going to be my one chance to see the great Grateful Dead before Jerry died? At any rate, when I decided I did want to go my friends were very positive. I mean in terms of outlook. They said: "Sure, it's sold out, but you can just go down there and get a ticket in the parking lot. Totally. And if not, you can hang out outside. It's almost as cool as going to the show itself." Yes, this is what I was told.

Needless to say, I was on my way to the show (in Charlotte, a 3 hour drive from where I lived at the time) in a heartbeat, boom boom. I convinced a friend of mine to go with me (and to drive!) even though he also was not one who could be classified as a "fan". I told him I'd buy his ticket for him if he'd drive. Good plan. We took with us some supplies and many musics but, most importantly, ended up focusing on this one album I borrowed from one of my roommates. The album? Terrapin Station of course.

I'll never forget the first time my friend and I listened to the final song (the one posted above) on the album. We were not very far into our trip and had just listened to the first five songs. I'd been filming cars and people and things out the window with my Super 8 movie camera and was finding it especially fun to shoot this one guy scarfing down burger after burger while driving. All of a sudden, about midway through our first time hearing "Terrapin Station", this car full of four girls passed us on the right hand side. They were cute and smiley and pointing at my camera. We sped up. They'd written something on a piece of paper and were laughing and having a ball in their car. It said: "are u filming us?" I wasn't, but then started the camera right away and shook my head yes. Right then the two girls in the back lifted up their shirts and flashed us. "Holy shit dude, are you getting that on camera?!" my friend yelled as he swerved a bit out of our lane. I assured him I was and told him to "watch the road dude".

Lots of "dudes" were thrown around (dudes my age tend to say dude when they get excited or mad) as we continued down the highway car-flirting with the girls. What were we going to do? They kind of motioned for us to pull over at the next exit. Meanwhile "Terrapin Station" was playing all super loud and underscored the entire scene. I think it kept our eyes on the prize. No we couldn't pull over to talk with the sluts, we had a concert to go to! Or, a parking lot at least. Something. Sluts be gone!

And they were. Right as the refrain (at about 14:00) kicked in they pulled off the road. We looked at each other just to confirm that we definitely weren't going to follow them and we didn't. The song ended and I took out the CD to replace it with another. My friend said "man, that was nuts...that last song is amazing! We have to hear it again, it's a magical boob song." So we did listen again. And again. And again and again but there were no more bare breasts to be found that day. In fact, that moment turned out to be the highlight/high point of the whole trip. We didn't get in to the concert, and hanging out in the parking lot wasn't really all it was cracked up to be, but we did discover a shared love for one Grateful Dead song. The magical boob song. Be careful to mind when, and where, you listen.

Buy Terrapin Station HERE on Amazon.

EAR FARM's 8+ is a weekly feature that showcases songs longer than 8 minutes. In the recent past these songs were featured on EF's 8+:
Charalambides - “Two Birds"
Explosions In The Sky - "Memorial"
Rush - “2112"
Love and Rockets - “Haunted When the Minutes Drag"
Suede - “The Asphalt World"
!!! - “Me and Giuliani Down by the Schoolyard (a true story)"
Bark Psychosis - “All Different Things"
Deodato - “Also Sprach Zarathustra"

To see a full list of every song featured in EAR FARM's 8+ click HERE.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

thats a good tune, from a good, if misunderstood band.

Bobby D said...

Your story is great, it reminds me of my youth. Killer song too man, nice.

The MERKIN MAN said...

If you ever get your hands on A Box of Rain -- the complete Robert Hunter lyrics, poetry, etc., read the entire Terrapin Suite.

The song does not do justice to the poetic idea you get with the whole story.

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