mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
[personal profile] mdlbear

Today I'm going to talk a little about my all-time favorite Grateful Dead song (and occasionally my favorite song, period): "Ripple". OtherBear ran across a drop-dead gorgeous cover of it: Ripple - Playing for Change [YoutUbe]. Go listen and watch; I'll wait. Let there be songs to fill the air!

What I like about that video is the absolutely seamless cutting between the various musicians. Just magic. Makes you want to go off with a guitar and sing it -- so I did. The chords you usually find on the web are in G, so it's dead simple to play, and right in the middle of my vocal range. (The original was in F, so it would be perfect on a 12-string tuned down the traditional two frets. Just sayin'.)

It's a very strange song. For the most part, I have no idea what it actually means, but it hangs together nevertheless, invoking an overall feeling of slightly mystical tranquility that's been missing recently in my life. It just sort of ripples along quietly. The fact that the chorus is a haiku (though not in the usual 5-7-5 layout; it's 6-7-4) probably contributes to the tranquility:

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

If you left YouTube up, you might want to check out some other versions. this, for example, is the studio version, which is where I first encountered it. Also, check out The Annotated "Ripple" for the lyrics and more. Dodd may be going a bit off the deep end with the analysis; literary criticism really isn't my field so I can't be sure. But there really are some amazing depths in that song.

If I knew the way, I would take you home. See you next week.

NaBloPoMo stats:

   1528 words in 4 posts this month (average 382/post)
    333 words in 1 post today

Date: 2018-11-04 04:18 am (UTC)
acelightning: cartoon me in Wiccan Priestess regalia (Priestess)
From: [personal profile] acelightning
Despite my life-long disavowal of anything Christian, this is one of my favorite songs also. The complex lyric structure is supported by a very simple melody with easy chords, in a key I can sing in. And the imagery affects me more deeply than it should. (When Jerry Garcia died, I posted to my journals, "If I knew the way, I would take you home...") And when I was a country-and-western DJ, I played Chris Hillman's version of it every chance I got...

Date: 2018-11-04 08:50 pm (UTC)
acelightning: Alhambra fountain, water spewing from mouth (mouth on wall)
From: [personal profile] acelightning
The "fountain that was not made by the hands of men" is an image that has always seemed somewhat Blakeian to me.

Date: 2018-11-05 01:32 am (UTC)
acelightning: bookcase full of books (books)
From: [personal profile] acelightning
I wonder how many people these days have even heard of Blake...

Date: 2018-11-04 06:39 am (UTC)
tibicina: a section of diagonal sheet music (Sheet Music)
From: [personal profile] tibicina
The problem I have is that I learned this song before I learned Ripple and so the melody somehow always surprises me because I end up expecting the other.

(This song being 'Any Dream Will Do' from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. They both premiered in 1970. It feels like someone should have sued someone else, but honestly it was probably independent... or they're both based on something earlier that I don't know.)

Date: 2018-11-05 03:25 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
That's a gorgeous cover, all right. Thank you for the link.

It strikes me as being similar to "Uncle John's Band," where the faintly mystical feeling and the tranquil music are the entire point. Someone out there did some good writing about Grateful Dead concerts as being revival-like but entirely unlike an actual big tent revival in important ways? I'm flailing at the concept but I do think songs like these need to be understood in that context.

Date: 2018-11-05 10:55 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
I went and listened to that, and /wow./

They are spoon feeding Casanova to get him to feel more assured
Then they'll kill him with self-confidence after poisoning him with words

Sometimes I forget exactly how far Dylan knew his way around a pen.

Date: 2018-11-08 01:25 pm (UTC)
filkferengi: filk fandom--all our life's a circle (Default)
From: [personal profile] filkferengi
That was lots of fun; thanks for sharing it! It reminds me a bit of the closing jam at OVFF.

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