In celebration of the Grateful Dead’s Blues for Allah turning 45 this week, Devendra Banhart released a dreamy cover of “Franklin’s Tower.”
Released on Amazon Music, the rendition is significantly slower and more cerebral than the cheery original that Gerry Garcia sang the lead on. “God save the child who rings that bell,” he sings. “I may have one good ring baby, you can’t tell.”
“We chose ‘Franklin’s Tower’ for its opening line, one of my favorite opening lines of all time: ‘In another time’s forgotten space/Your eyes looked through your mother’s face,’” Banhart said in a statement. “This is the gift of the Dead, the paradox of personal universality…wisdom found at the end of a maze, the bliss of unconditional love and acceptance…There’s a Dead for everyone…”
“Through the pandemic, I go on daily immersions into Blues for Allah, marveling at Phillip Garris’ eerie and alluring cover art, ‘Help/Slip/Frank’ guiding me through the weird underworld that the day has become, and I feel at once remarkably insignificant and the most precious thing in the universe, a wave, held in the ocean of my mother’s eyes… a child dancing, rolling away the dew…knowing help is indeed on the way…”
Banhart recently covered T. Rex’s “Scenescof,” as part of the late producer Hal Willner’s all-star tribute album. He released his tenth studio album, Ma, last year. This month, Banhart will stream a series of concerts from Los Angeles.