Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Running with the Dead: Turn on Your Love Light

Running with the Dead: Turn on Your Love Light
Result: Positive
Best Line: Without a warning you broke my heart
Link: twenty-four minute '71 version

Whenever I see early photos of Pigpen, I can't help laughing. A funny little fat man, who dressed somewhere between a Hells Angel and a sixties hippie chick. Yet he could sing and play the blues as though he was born in the belly of Alabama. The Grateful Dead were a different band when he was at the helm. Pigpen was perhaps born at the wrong time. He was an alcoholic among acid freaks. And he drank himself to death in 1973.

Currently, I am running with three Pigpen songs on my player: Love Light, Hard to Handle and Alligator (thanks to my cousin, D). I'm not sure which ones will make the final cut. Love Light is the best. Whether you choose a Pigpen or Weir version, it doesn't matter. The song zips along. Be careful with the early versions though. They are similar to Jimi Hendrix's Gloria or The Doors' The End, where they can become long drawn-out monologues. And then Pigpen may start talking about some woman he slept with the night before, which not only puts the brakes on the song but also starts me laughing.

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