I just noticed that in my site stats, someone visited Scarletfire.co.uk because they typed “What is Scarlet Fire” into Google.
So, to anyone who reads my site who ever wondered why it’s called ScarletFire, here’s why.
I’m a massive fan of the music of the Grateful Dead. Sadly, most people in the UK seem to have a strange preconceived idea (having never heard the band!) that with a name like that, they must play heavy metal or something similar. I’m not sure why, but they do. Maybe it’s because some of the artwork shows skeletons and skulls, and people just make an association.
Anyway, the Grateful Dead were absolute masters of improvisation. Whilst the basic structure of most songs stayed fairly consistent from show to show, there were usually big sections within them where anything could happen, and they would frequently jam out a song and seamlessly segue into something new. They could play a 2 hour set without the music stopping at all. For me, the fascination here was always not so much the songs, but the spaces in between. The musical conversations that would occur, bouncing off around the band members. And Jerry Garcia’s guitar playing of course. A musician’s musician.
The Dead played thousands of live shows between 1965 and 1995 (when Jerry died). Some of those couplings of songs stuck over the years, so you’d often hear Estimated Prophet going into Eyes of the World (abbreviated to Estimated>Eyes on the setlists of the time), for example. China Cat Sunflower into I Know You Rider was another very common one (China>Rider). You can see where this is going – another very popular pairing was Scarlet Begonias, into Fire on the Mountain. Scarlet>Fire.
So why did I use that name for the blog?
Not really sure to be honest! I needed a name (any name) for a personal blog, just to goof around and experiment with, and it seemed interesting sounding without being too evocative of anything specific. With hindsight, and as this has developed into a blog mainly about cycling related stuff, it was probably a bit daft from an SEO perspective, but c’est la vie.
There are hundreds of recorded versions of Scarlet>Fire but one of the most famous (in DeadHead circles) was probably from May 8th, 1977.
This YouTube video includes the audio.
Try listening to the bits in between the songs, and how the band bounce off each other.
I mentioned China>Rider before, as another example of how the Dead often combined two songs, with interesting bridging sections in between.
Here’s a version from 8.27.72, which includes some recently restored video footage.
This is now commercially available, and you can buy the DVD “Sunshine Daydream (Veneta, Or, 8/27/72)”
Warning: contains naked hippies
I may have short hair these days but I’m still a hippy on the inside!