Sunday, November 20, 2016

A Name to Remember

Song 330: This week on the playlist you can hear Jack Straw by The Grateful Dead, written by Robert Hunter and Bob Weir. This track is another rock and roll cowboy movie, similar to the one from 3 weeks ago (Song 327) The Lights of Downtown by The Long Ryders. While it appeared on the triple album Europe ’72 which arrived in November of that year, I didn’t get to know it until the middle of the following decade. Living and sharing a 6-bedroom house in Berkeley with 5 others, at some point around ’85 or so, I welcomed a new housemate named Mikey who moved into the back room right next to the kitchen. Like everyone else in the house, I spent a certain amount of time in the kitchen making meals, eating them and cleaning up after them, and Mikey being a sociable guy, he often had his door open and his stereo playing. He would spin Europe ’72 a lot more than any other records, and I certainly didn’t mind. I quickly got to know and like the entire 3-disk set, with this cut soon becoming a favorite. Having been raised in a religious Christian setting, I couldn’t help but feel the irony expressed in the lines about jumping a watchman, stealing his rings and his money, and then asking ain’t that Heaven sent? No matter how many times I’ve heard this track, though, it never hurts my ears to listen to it once more.

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