The Grateful Dead’s American Beauty includes iconic songs like “Box of Rain,” “Friend of the Devil,” “Sugar Magnolia,” “Ripple,” and “Truckin’.” Even non-Deadheads know and love American Beauty. Lyricist Robert Hunter, a focus of one of our Deep Dives in the Morning Dive with Sloane Spencer, penned many fans’ favorite songs for this record. Sloane told her story of seeing Robert Hunter perform “Ripple,” solo acoustic on the historic Ryman Auditorium stage. Nearly every person in the packed house welled up at its beauty.
While songs from American Beauty rotated through the Dead’s performances for decades, they did not play “Ripple” live from 1971 until 1980, seen here in this performance. Notably, Pig Pen wrote and sang “Operator,” the only time those aligned on a studio album from the Grateful Dead. Members of the band often sang the songs they wrote with Hunter, with Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, and Jerry Garcia taking turns on the remainder of the album tracks.
Grateful Dead shows were experiences as much as concerts. The pre-show parking lot bazaar, fans “on tour,” and frisbees and beach balls throughout the venue made for memorable happenings (for most show-goers!).