Once I realized that I actually like the Grateful Dead, specifically the songs with lyrics by Robert Hunter, I had homework. I dug back into specific songs. For myself, I separate their studio albums from their live experience. While it’s sacrilegious to real fans, I prefer their slicker versions of these songs. I never claimed to be a Deadhead, y’all!
Robert Hunter is the direct descendant of poet, Robert Burns. He volunteered for the government experiments with psychedelics alongside Ken Kesey. Through several loose associations related to LSD (what could possibly be more “Grateful Dead” than that?!), Hunter began his unofficial role with the band. After some time, he became an official, but non-playing, member of the band. This is part of what made his solo acoustic performance of “Ripple” in the Ryman so incredibly powerful.
Robert Hunter released albums of his own. He’s known for his work with Bruce Hornsby and Jim Lauderdale. Lauderdale has a gift for elevating brilliant but not publicly recognizable songwriters.