On this Music Monday, I will get by. I will survive!
You know those songs with an upbeat sound, that actually conceal a darker undertone within the lyrics?
Today’s song does just that – keeps it upbeat despite a much darker story within the lyrics!
I am not a fan of Grateful Dead in any way, shape, or form (more than obvious by some of the songs I choose to highlight, right?), but I do like one of their songs, heard many years ago while watching Pop Up Video. I’ve always found the music video funny, and just liked the general tone of the song itself, probably because I wasn’t necessarily listening (or at the time, understanding) the tone of the song.
Years later, knowing this doesn’t change my feelings about the song – it is still as fun as it was all those years ago.
“Touch of Grey” is a 1987 song by Grateful Dead, though it was first performed in an encore on September 15, 1982 at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland. The song didn’t get an actual single release until 1987’s In the Dark. The music was composed by Jerry Garcia, with lyrics written by Robert Hunter, and was the first of the Dead’s songs to have a music video backing up its release.
The music video was filmed in May 1987 after one of their concerts, at the Laguna Seca Raceway near Salinas and Monterey, California, and featured life-sized skeleton marionettes, as well as the band. Its frequent play on MTV helped introduce the band to a new generation of fans, moving them more into the mainstream, and had an accompanying 30-minute documentary on the production of the music video.
Here’s the music video…
…and the version I loved growing up (still do!).
“Touch of Grey” reached #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 (the group’s only Top 40 single on this chart), and #1 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.
So, what is the meaning behind the lyrics?
According to Song Facts:
The song is about the band aging gracefully. The phrase “Touch Of Grey” is a reference to getting older, as for most people, their hair starts getting grey as they age. Aging gracefully is a challenge, especially in the music industry. According to Dead drummer Mickey Hart, Robert Hunter wrote the lyric as a pick-me-up. “When he wrote ‘Touch Of Grey,’ we were struggling,” Hart said. “But it became an anthem to us. It perked us up.”
It was a perk that would keep the band going, as new and seasoned fans attended their concerts. With the death of Jerry Garcia in 1995 (I remember that – the Pop Up Video version of the music video happened after Garcia’s death), the group as it was known disbanded, but toured occasionally as “The Other Ones” in 1998, 2000, and 2002, and the Dead in 2003, 2004, and 2009. In 2015, the surviving four core members reunited for Grateful Dead’s 50th Anniversary for a series of concerts that would be their last performances together.
It seems they did get by, and for a little while, enjoyed a nice revival.
Have a great Monday, and enjoy the Music!