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Amazing review of the 1977 release of Cats Under The Stars

 
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catunderthestars



Joined: 08 Aug 2009
Posts: 19
Location: Greenville, South Carolina

PostPosted: Sat Aug 08, 2009 11:12 pm    Post subject: Amazing review of the 1977 release of Cats Under The Stars Reply with quote

magenta321's Full Review: Cats Under the Stars by Jerry Garcia Band

Cats Under The Stars was a solo release by Jerry Garcia. But don't let "solo" fool you. Both Donna and Keith Godchaux, who appeared for a while in the Grateful Dead, are on this album as well. This may or may not mean anything to you. But more on that in a moment.

Jerry Garcia is best known as the singer and guitarist for The Grateful Dead. Jerry has an art for blending rock, folk, country, and blue into his music. What comes out is truly unique and special.

Donna Godchaux is well... she's one of those "love her or hate her" types of people. Personally, I love her soulful voice. But some people suggest the only "cat" on this album is Donna howling like an injured cat. She's music to my ears, as well as many other people's, but some people find her voice to be like nails on a chalkboard.

Donna is also hated because she's seen by some as a Yoko Ono like force on the Grateful Dead. I think these types of statements are grossly over-exaggerated. Personally, I think it stems from the "boys club" that is Rock 'N Roll.

Well, enough about Donna. Let's talk about the music.

The album has only eight songs and runs just over a half-hour long, however, it packs a lot of punch.

The first track on the CD is one of my favorites -- Rubin and Cherise. The Dead also performed this song. The song is rather simple. The lyrics paint a picture in your mind, and it's easy to get wrapped up in the story of the couple. The lyrics play on your senses in a way that you can see and hear Carnival around them. The song sets up a conflict (enter "Sweet Ruby Claire", another love interest), and has a moral:

The truth of love an unsung song must tell
The course of love must follow blind
Without a look behind

That line, "without a look behind" becomes important to me. But, weíll have to explore the album more before youíll see why thatís important.

At any rate, the song ends with Cherise's death. That's a heck of a way to start an album, eh?

Not to worry. Jerry is not all gloom and doom. The next two songs are much more upbeat. First is Love in the Afternoon. The beat in this song slow and drawn out. It gives the feeling of comfort and ease, and talks about what else, but "love in the afternoon." The song speaks of Jamaica, and there are some ornamental notes, coupled with the dragging beat that take you away to lazy days on the island.

And in that same lazy feel, next comes Palm Sunday. This is a very shot song that acts as an interlude between the very free and lazy "Love in the Afternoon" and Cats Under the Stars.

"Cats Under the Stars" is the song for which this album is named. This is another great song that paints a picture through the words and the music. The song has an upbeat feel, and you can call me crazy, but I can picture cats dancing to the beat of the music. It's like a cartoon in my head. The cats are colored vibrantly in my vision, in case you are wondering.

Of course, the cats aren't really cats in this song -- they're the people you'll see out at night. Partiers, lost souls and even strippers. The speaker goes out and joins these people. It's one of those things that the Dead are known for -- they paint a rather bleak picture, and find acceptance, and even happiness within it. Or, that's the message I get anyway. It's the happy music I think, that does it.

My favorite song on the album, besides Ruben and Cherise, is Rain. Remember all that talk about Donna Godchaux before? Well, this song showcases Donna's talent. The music is very inspirational, and upbeat, but Donna takes the lead and is singing about something not usually so upbeat -- rain.

Rain, in this song, is a symbol of trouble in a relationship. In this song, however, the rain is a good thing. "Brighter days have hurried me along" is just another way to say "you don't know what ya got, 'til it's gone." This rain, or trouble, has helped the speaker to see the greatness within the relationship, to "see the rain come shinning through".

Donna is a true asset within this song. Her ability to rise above the notes she is singing gives a strange combination of sorrow and happiness.

Donna's voice is not always viewed as an asset, however. On the interlude Down Home, you will understand how Donna's voice can be like nails on a chalkboard. Personally, I like what she does. She more or less moans some scales, singing "Oh, oh, oh-oh-oh". Some people hate it. I find it very soulful and sorrowful. After so many upbeat songs (or sad songs with an upbeat feel, depending on how you want to look at them) this interlude brings you right down. It puts you in the right place for what comes next -- Gommorah.

"Gomorrah" is sung by Jerry, and features Donna singing background vocals. It is the same story of Sodom and Gomorrah you may already be familiar with. If you're not, I'll give a very, very abbreviated version, from the way I understand it. Sodom and Gomorrah were two cities, which God was destroying because the people there had forsaken Him. God spared a guy named "Lot" and his family. Angels told them to flee the city, and not to look behind. Lot's wife didn't heed their warning, and she was turned into a pillar of salt.

So, that's the story told here. Now, you're wondering why I took the time to explain a Biblical story, right?

Well, because this song deals with it. But that's not the only reason. The refrain of this song is "because she looked behind her".

It all ties together. The first song. The middle songs. The last song. It all ebbs and flows together.

From Ruben and Cherise, again:

The truth of love an unsung song must tell
The course of love must follow blind
Without a look behind

Do you get it? It took me about a thousand listens to get it. The moral of the story... the thing that Ruben and Lot's wife didn't get.

You must always look forward. Don't look back..

And that message, combined with the wonderful music is what makes this album so important to me.

At some point we're all "cats down under the stars." Searching for something to make us complete. At other points in our life, we're experiencing the rapture of "love in the afternoon", or we're experiencing "rain" in our relationships. Through it all, we must keep moving. Always looking forward. Always hopeful that tomorrow will bring us closer to happiness, no matter where we are on this great wheel of love.

Most people don't see what I see. Most people see a collection of songs that were put on an album. If that's what you see, that's fine too. You donít have to see some greater meaning or moral to the album. If nothing else, itís a great collection of songs.

But if you can see the way that Jerry has woven together songs written by different authors, written about different points in relationships, you'll see what I find to be so important and so beautiful about the music of Jerry Garcia. Love comes and goes. It's always evolving into something else. But in love, and in life itself, we must keep looking forward, no matter where we are today.

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She was just seventeen... when i gave her ketamine... and the way she looked was waaay beyond compare... so how could i dance with another... when i saaaaaaw her swaaaaaaaayin there!!!
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dogstarz
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 08, 2009 11:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent review. I haven't really pieced the album together like that.
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Kochman
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Joined: 23 Jun 2008
Posts: 10252
Location: Davy Jones' Locker

PostPosted: Sun Aug 09, 2009 12:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Donna sucks the wang...
The rest of your review is right on. Thank for this, and welcome to the pub, don't mind my obtuseness... it has been known to cause the insane to lament and the genius to lash out.
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catunderthestars



Joined: 08 Aug 2009
Posts: 19
Location: Greenville, South Carolina

PostPosted: Sun Aug 09, 2009 11:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i agree that donna sucks wang... and that wasn't my review tho... it was a review i found on an amazon based site.. the author is at the top...

_________________
She was just seventeen... when i gave her ketamine... and the way she looked was waaay beyond compare... so how could i dance with another... when i saaaaaaw her swaaaaaaaayin there!!!
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Kochman
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Joined: 23 Jun 2008
Posts: 10252
Location: Davy Jones' Locker

PostPosted: Sun Aug 09, 2009 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh yeah!
LOL...

Let me also welcome you!
Welcome aboard dude, glad to have you... I know that Gopher amongst others has been itching for some more JGB people to be here and discuss with
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chingsinkly



Joined: 08 Jul 2008
Posts: 584
Location: mass

PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wow, great read man thanks for posting this!
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