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Viola Lee Blues is the best song of all time

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It’s a great jam, but lyrically fairly weak. Besides the lyric me and my buddies all got lifetime here, which to me means we will be in this dead scene for life, it’s a pretty basic old blues song and doesn’t have the deep resonance that Hunter songs do. 

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I’m pretty sure some got 6 months some got one solid refers to those in your crew that took the deal and talked. 

 

But you and your buddy taken what you know the grave. We getting lifetime. 

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It’s my current favorite song.

 

 

I’ll return tomorrow to see if I’ve moved on.  

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I love a good viola. I think all here do. I will side with Rude that it lacks the true beauty of a Stella or Comes a time. It’s definitely a top mover. Gets me going every time. Up there with Samson and Dancin. 

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Viola Lee is a machine!  Once she gets cranked up it is fun as shit to try and keep up.  I love to hear it but there’s nothing like jumping on that musical mechanical bucking bull and riding to see if you get thrown off.  

 

With DSO my Viola winning percentage is like .500.  Great for baseball - average for a Viola Lee  ‘fan’

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Music is subjective in a thousand different ways. It can be your best and that is cool.

 

i like the song. I love the old folk versions, the blues versions, both old and new, and the various Grateful Dead interpretations. 

 

When I think back on Phil tour in 2001, this song was the needle and thread throughout all those shows and tours.

 

My favorite experience with this song happened back in December 1997. I rented that winter a tiny one room shack with minimal belongings and was doing a lot of soul searching. I bought a big fog machine, strobe lights, and got big speakers. With a few select people, we locked the doors, turned out the lights, and put on very loudly with big speakers the Grateful Dead show, 4/21/1969, at the Ark, which I had acquired that summer in a tape trade.

 

The darkness enveloped the shack, and the show sound waves disoriented everyone. It was like taking a space flight into madness. We hung on every note even as we lost one another in the foggy black mist. 

 

Laughter, shrieks, tears, arms flailing, and loud thumping Grateful Dead, while the strobe permeated our psyches.

 

The crescendo though was when Viola Lee Blues>feedback blasted us to the ground. That was the moment that I went from liking the song to loving the song. It’s still my favorite version other than 4/26/1969.

 

 

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I love a viola, don’t get me wrong. It’s an insane dancer. Prob my fav dancer from that period is easy wind b/c of how funky the drum beat is. 

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On 3/11/2019 at 4:36 PM, Rude said:

I love a viola, don’t get me wrong. It’s an insane dancer. Prob my fav dancer from that period is easy wind b/c of how funky the drum beat is. 

Ok... so.... for once I agree w ya, dear. Love that easy wind....speaking of the big easy.... my foggy Nola memories finally remembered that twenty spot even though I’m too dirty to be in your room. Thanks, again, for being you. We got a hotie in Nola for dead co last year and that shit is NICE! Didn’t know there were spots not under trees in the grass or river spots w rats knawing atcha bf that lmao.You are a gem, kiddo! But it’s about who is singing AND that funkiness w the easy wind. Love that shit, Mmmmm! Def one of my faves! And I feel dirty for this concession bc it’s to you. Lol. 

 

BUT.... viola..... lyrically quite strong when u live on the streets and in the woods as a community outside of the cultural norm, like MC mentioned. Those that are still in jail for shit that is LEGAL now bc they didn’t talk makes all of us have a friend somewhere and we should be grateful even if we don’t know their names. And when I hear this song my whole body comes alive in gratefulness! They let John sing it in furthur (one of two songs or so he was allowed lmao!) and it was cool to see those guys go there......... w DSO I have def enjoyed easy wind more than viola (supporting rude in this argument is makin my skin crawl w horror at our human similarities hehe) but comparisons are shit. I have had SO MANY fave songs/flavors for the moment and I have cried hearing DSO do viola while dancin and laughing at the same time, feeling for my loves that still live behind bars bc they wanted us to feed our heads.

 

um...... side note..... we got an 81 Rolls Royce that my hubby (shhh, don’t tell no one we got married til the party this summer!) shined up and I had to name her Stella bc she was headed to the junkyard n he shined up her dusty and rusty one more time to get her right where she needed to go. Took her to the courthouse to sign the papers n said our vows in front of her missing grill and that is something a lil woods-street kid like me will never forget! She was worth 108k in 81 when originally sold. So..... I still will always be a fuckin girl and love the sweet Jerry ballads like Stella more than words can tell, every time, especially bc it takes extra talent to play or dance the slow shit, but u know....... I mailed my letter after the clerk wrote it and:

 

it is about what you are dancin to and groovin on RIGHT NOW that makes me love u all so goddamn much. I can’t beleive I married a non-deadhead..... at least he plays a mean ass banjo and taught me how to actually turn planned notes into sweet sweet jelly cause that jelly’s so goddamn good. Jammin all fuckin day.... for our honeymoon he made me a pallet on our friend’s trailer’s floor (we paid rent, we aint mooches) and jammed on banjo and mando all night.... this is what I live, dance, and love for.

 

keep on truckin’ on.... even Corrina became a fave for me bc of DSO so.... goes to show u never can tell.

 

but man.... Leon Russell is really cool and I realized recently that y’all didnt actually think I knew how to rock n roll but since I been livin off this blues power that DSO gifted me with for 10 years now...... I think I can find my own way home. Cause here I am.

 

kiss kiss, see y’all next month. My ten year anniversary w u crazy fucks. Rude, u owe me a goddamn beer bwahahahaha

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I never denied you a place to sleep ever and if it weren’t for MC missing his Nola flight and having to get to Memphis early we were giving you a ride north. Please stop attacking my character. 

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7 minutes ago, Rude said:

I never denied you a place to sleep ever and if it weren’t for MC missing his Nola flight and having to get to Memphis early we were giving you a ride north. Please stop attacking my character. 

OMG I just sucked your cock online and still u are Rude. If y’all hadnt kicked me out in Asheville I never woulda had my icehouse in the bushes w jesse and learned how to jam. Thank you. Again, THANK YOU! Dude.... Nola on Decatur st.... u were staying above our red door we always play at! I don’t need a room, I love the grass! But...... let’s hug and giggle and remind u that u are loved..... even if it takes my husband slapping his mushroom on your face. Kiss kiss, kiddo, welcome to the family! Bwahahahaha

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Viola Lee is a powerhouse! She transformed the Dead and the Dead transformed her. Jamming was born within and of her. 

 

As as far as her lyrics, I look to the deeper meaning within where a seemingly simple song speaks volumes about life’s greatest obstacle to living  and paints the landscape for the jam to be born. The complexity of negotiating the finite and its seeming decrees of the way you are, and the world is, can lead to imprisonment of the spirit. An  inability to express oneself because of those decrees by authority (judge) and cronies ( clerks), whether external or internal,  provide a stumbling block until overcome. For we are all just players, players for each other, on life’s stage, and it is all a dream. The great Emmett Fox likens unforgiveness to imprisonment. Many a person has been imprisoned in and by the moment, our greatest fear, whether by their own judgement or another’s. Born of spirit, we fear being fixated, as stagnation is where death lives, where the wellspring of spirit cannot move and is dry of life. Only through flow of spirit does life exist. Perhaps instead of a crime, it is a tragedy that haunts the narrator. The narrator sends up a letter mailed in the air, a prayer for release and absolution. When I was 7, my best friend, my first friend I really deeply bonded with, was struck by a car and killed, when the car illegally skirted around the bus. I wrote her a letter and buried it in the yard to send up my love to her.  In my simple way, I physically spoke to her my love, a more demonstrative way of prayer. Some traditions believe you write your grievances and burn the letter, sending it up to the heavens. Reconciliation allows freedom, whatever that may look like. The ensuing jam is the struggle against imprisonment and the torture of a spirit that wishes to live free. The jam is furious and full of soul. The crescendo dives back into the downbeat and the narrator once again lifts up a prayer, mailed in the air. 

 

Got it get back to the garden... 

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I saw Phil Lesh & Friends perform Viola Lee Blues four times during the 2nd set on 7-10-01 in St. Louis. This show is in my top 10 shows of all-time. What an amazing night of music!!

 

Phil Lesh & Friends - July 10, 2001 - Riverport Amphitheatre, Maryland Heights, MO

 

1: jam > playin > she belongs > truckin > playin (bobby leaves), doin that rag > midnight train > passenger > doin that rag

 

2: alligator > sugaree, dire wolf, viola lee > eleven jam > tons of steel > viola lee > strawberry fields > viola lee > lovelight > viola lee (e) into the mystic

 

(Ratdog opened)
 

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I offer a wide application of poetic license when it comes to someone of both the knowledge and the inclination to write an essay on the merits of Viola Lee Blues.  🤓

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