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What you hear is so much more than music. It is nothing less than history. The Grateful Dead—from Jerry Garcia's signature round glasses and smiling beard to the driving force of Bill and Mickey's percussion—are icons of the 1960's counterculture. Hearing these tunes, one cannot help but flash back to the days when seas of tie-dye gathered together, be it in celebration or protest. "Tune in, Turn On, Drop Out" and "Make Love, Not War" were the mantras of the day. Anyone who was young (or young at heart) and free during the Summer of Love, when "Hippie" was either a term of endearment or the war-cry of those who hated them, knows the Grateful Dead as the messengers of good vibes and good times. But for those who were born too late to have been there, the "myth" of the Grateful Dead is often laced with misunderstanding.

The Grateful Dead get such a bad rap from people who don't know their music. When I first got into The Dead as a kid in 1986 (yeah...born too late), mention of the group's name invoked declarations of misconception such as, "They're too 'hard rock' for me," or, "You like the Dead? Where can I get some 'shrooms?" Sure, drugs have always been part of the the culture, but it's such an insult to the talents of the group for their legacy to be so one-sided in the eyes are far too many.

A friend recalled a time when he popped a tape (for the kids, tapes were thick, square CDs that were used to store recorded music) into his mom's car stereo. He thinks it was St. Stephen that was playing when his mom said, "I didn't know you liked country music." Of course, he was offended by her failure to identify the musical genre, but maybe that's because the music of the Grateful Dead escapes the common boundaries of genre. I hear disco in Shakedown Street, which isn't surprising. I hear bluegrass in Mexicali Blues. There's definitely a hymn-like quality to Attics of My Life. The orchestral style of Terrapin Station. Can you hear Reggae in Estimated Prophet? Tribal beats to electronic funk, the Dead have it all, and that's part of what makes them so special.

Listen for a while, and you'll hear what I'm talking about. If you're new to the Dead, enjoy what you like in the show that you're hearing now, but come back later on, and, most likely, the next show that streams will be from a different era of the Dead, and what you hear may be very different, but it will always be uniquely Dead.

And if you're on the go, check out the Deadcast mobile app for Android on Google Play.
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