My Top 1000 Songs #428: Eyes Of The World
After pivoting from primal psychedelia to rootsy Americana circa 1970, the Grateful Dead again broadened their palette by the time of 1973's terrific, underrated Wake Of The Flood LP, introducing a smoother, jazzy vibe to some of the music. This is most noteworthy on the incessantly pleasant "Eyes Of The World," one of the key tracks that helped me pivot from Dead-skeptic to lifelong obsessive. The original studio version is perfectly fine--indeed, it's pretty great, belying the stereotype of the Dead as not shining in the studio. It's a gentle summer breeze translated to song--a sprightly, bubbling backbeat over which Garcia can go to work with his telltale licks (perfectly contrasting with Weir's delightfully jazzy rhythm guitar counterpoint), not to mention some of the prettiest vocal harmonies outside of American Beauty (sweetened by the often unfairly-derided Donna Godchaux's contributions).
Still, as with much of their catalog, the song really comes alive on stage, the infectious melody a stepping-off point for some of the band's finest extended jams. I'm partial to the 1974 Wall-Of-Sound shows, where they introduced a nifty bridge to the song, breaking up it otherwise uninterrupted vamping; but it's one of their classic set-pieces that worked marvelously across multiple eras of the band, adjusting to the band's changing moods/members/chemicals while still sounding fresh and captivating.Live 1974:Live 1977:Live 1991 (with Bruce Hornsby):