Monday, April 20, 2009

Drugs: Henry

New Riders of the Purple Sage: Henry


Do they still use the term “counterculture”?

At some point, in academia, and soon after in the press, someone decided that it was undignified to write about “hippies”. So they came up with the term counterculture. You could read about things like “archetypal countercultural icons”. But, in plain language, surely the dope runner was one of these. This heroic soul dodged narcs and border agents to bring high quality weed from Mexico to the masses. He braved treacherous roads and uncertain weather in his noble quest. And he did all of this after liberally sampling his wares to assure quality.

New Riders of the Purple Sage came up with the best celebration of the noble dope runner I have ever heard. New Riders, or NRPS, as they were known in their heyday, came to modest fame by opening for the Grateful Dead. Perhaps their talent could have carried them farther if they had not been in the Dead’s shadow; certainly, they sang better. But Jerry Garcia in particular championed them, and so they became known as a sort of “Dead lite”. To my ears, they fit right in with the country rock of the mid-70s, and they might have been better off had they been marketed as such.

Henry comes from New Riders’ first album. The vinyl version of the album had a 30 second bit of weirdness on it called House of Wax. As far as I can tell, House of Wax never appeared on any CD version of the album. If anybody has an mp3 of this, please get in touch; I’d love to have it. Thanks.

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