Persuading the Dead

Lost and Found Sound: Persuasions sing Grateful Dead

Cover of album of the Persuasions singing Grateful Dead songs

hide captionThe Persuasions album

Sound, Lost and Found: It can get you out of bed at the crack of dawn to sit in a damp marsh just to hear a rare bird sing. It can make you spend hundreds of dollars at the record swap for the 78 you need to complete your collection. It can make you quit your job and follow a rock band on the road

Sound holds a special power over us. This story is inspired by a sound that has been surrounded by some of the most devoted listeners ever — the music of the Grateful Dead. The songs of Jerry Garcia and lyricist Robert Hunter have recently been discovered by a new group of devotees: The Persuasions, the a cappella singers who started making music on street corners some 40 years ago. This summer, The Persuasions stepped into a record studio in Berkeley, California, to re-find the sound of the Grateful Dead.

The Persuasions started out singing soul, and since then, they've covered everything from gospel to Motown to Kurt Weil to Frank Zappa. The Grateful Dead combined bluegrass and folk influences with the radical spirit of their times. So when the a cappella group took up the songs of the musical icons of the 1960s counterculture, it was a twenty-first century recording session devoted to the songs of a quintessentially twentieth century group with musical roots stretching into the nineteenth century and earlier.

In this story for Lost and Found Sound, as we listen in on the recording of their new album of Grateful Dead songs, Might as Well...,, The Persuasions show us again what power sound can have — and that making good music is a process of continually finding and re-finding sound.

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Might as Well...The Persuasions Sing Grateful Dead

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  • Album: Might as Well...The Persuasions Sing Grateful Dead
  • Artist: The Persuasions
  • Label: Arista
  • Released: 2000
 

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