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Grateful Dead and The Hobbit

There are bunches of GD/Hobbit connections in the literature on the band. Did you know that in '65 they all read The Hobbit and considered changing the bandname to The Hobbits?

From McNally's A Long Strange Trip:
Weir was reading Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and there was much talk of wizards and magic. Some combination of Weir, Garcia, and Pigpen came up with the name "Warlocks," and it stuck.
From Greenfield's Dark Star:
david grisman: Jerry and those guys were beyond the music even then. They were a bunch of very hip guys. They were all reading The Hobbit and they were doing this communal living that opened my eyes. I dug the music because they were doing bluegrass songs. They were doing Bob Dylan. They were putting this roots music in the context of rock 'n' roll.
From Blair Jackson's "Pigpen Forever - The Life and Times of Ron McKernan" (in The Golden Road 1993 Annual):
Sue Swanson: The first time I really spent any time talking to [Pigpen] was when they played at Frenchy's over in Hayward and he kept coming out to Billy's station wagon, where I was hanging out because I was too young to go in, and Pigpen told me the whole story of The Hobbit. It was really sweet.
From Shenk and Silberman's Skeleton Key:
In 1965, the "Warlocks" (Kreutzmann, Garcia, Weir, Lesh, and Pigpen), on the verge of signing with Warner Bros., discovered that another band with the same name had beaten them to vinyl. Scores of suggestions for new names were tried on for size: "Vanilla Plumbago" (words selected from an Edward Gorey book that Weir was reading) . . . "The Hobbits" . . . "Mythical Ethical Icicle Tricycle."
From Robert H. Trudeau's "A Super-Metacantric Analysis of 'Playing in the Band'" (in Reading the Grateful Dead: A Critical Survey):
that “typical” concert scenario conforms to the structural characteristics of “Playing in the Band.” Or we can see the event of the Grateful Dead concert itself in a similar light: we leave our normal lives for a while, joining thousands of similarly inclined pilgrims; enter a different realm that is difficult to describe to nonparticipants; and then eventually come back from the adventure altered— presumably for the better. The essence of this process is not seen especially clearly in the lyrics of “Playing in the Band,” however, but rather in its performance: the process of leaving “normalcy” and exploring alternatives, usually with a return to the sphere of “normalcy”—the better, we hope, for the adventure.

• • • •

An episodic adventure involves a decision to step out of what one normally does. It means doing some sort of cost-benefit analysis, an analysis that here of necessity must rest on imponderables and intangibles. Hence it involves taking some risk, financially, psychologically, socially, physically, or all of the above and more. Episodic adventures can be very profitable. They can make life very interesting. But they carry risk, and hence can go wrong. Bilbo Baggins is famously cited, in the first chapter of Tolkien's The Hobbit, as outlining this conundrum before the adventures begin: After describing the pleasures of Bilbo's home—“it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort”—the narrator asks the reader to ponder whether a risky adventure would be worth leaving this comfort and security. But Bilbo is going on some adventures, and the narrator suggests that the reader reserve judgment: “You will see whether he gained anything in the end.” And off Bilbo goes in quest of the ring.

Phil Lesh named his 2002 studio album There and Back Again (which was also the alternate title of Tolkien's The Hobbit).

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