Last month I worked up a little screed wondering what had become of Sam Quinn. Good news is he hasn't disappeared. In fact, he's done the impossible.
I grew up in Eugene, Oregon, which was the smallest city on the Grateful Dead's annual itinerary. When they'd come the place would just swarm with stinky dirt-heads selling fake hits of acid, clamoring for 90 minute versions of "Truckin'." After the Dead would move on, many would remain marooned, looking for handouts or rides to the next show.
As punks we detested them and their music. Anything but meandering noodling and passivity. All was not OK. The scenario put up a near immovable block in my musical mind: the Dead and their offshoots were just insufferable and always would be. It would be a lifelong badge to never let them in.
But here comes Sam Quinn, with a cover of "Peggy-O" that I just can't deny. Sure, Quinn's Tennessee twang gives the song a more elegant, timeless and tactile appeal, but underneath it all rests a fine composition. I looked up a few videos of the Dead doing their take, and while not astoundingly awful, seeing Jerry in shorts noodling away, it was still a sound I can't quite abide. But I get it. Or at least a fragment.
Over at Live & Breathing, there are a couple more videos of Quinn & company working out the songs of others, including "Under The Boardwalk" and "Louisana Saturday Night," which must be an old standard. But none can hold a candle to their take on sweet "Peggy-O."
Now if Quinn would just marshall that army to march west...