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Grateful Dead — Unbroken Chain
Album: From The Mars Hotel
Avg rating:
5.9

Your rating:
Total ratings: 644









Released: 1974
Length: 6:39
Plays (last 30 days): 0
Blue light rain, whoa unbroken chain,
Looking for familiar faces in an empty window pane.

Listening for the secret, searching for the sound
But I could only hear the preacher and the baying of his hounds.

Willow sky, whoa, I walk and wonder why,
They say love your brother, but you will catch it when you try.

Roll you down the line boy, drop you for a loss,
Ride you out on a cold railroad and nail you to a cross.

November and more, as I wait for the score,
They're telling me forgiveness is the key to every door.
A slow winter day a night like forever,
Sink like a stone, float like a feather.

(instrumental)
Lilac rain, unbroken chain, Song of the sawhet owl.
Out on the mountain, it'll drive you insane, Listening to the winds howl

Unbroken chain of sorrow and pearls, Unbroken chain of shy and sea.
Unbroken chain of the western wind, Unbroken chain of you and me.
Comments (171)add comment
I'm a big Deadhead but I simply can't stand this one. 
 Castelfranco wrote:
 MinMan wrote:
I was thinking - one of the few dead songs I can stomach. Go figure - to each his own.
 

Exactly my thoughts!

 
Me too!
 MinMan wrote:
I was thinking - one of the few dead songs I can stomach. Go figure - to each his own.
 

Exactly my thoughts!
such a bad piano part..
Man, that screeching noise is annoying. I like the song otherwise, but why put that in there? 
Wouldn't be a bad song except for a very annoying squeal sound mixed in.
 gatorade wrote:
PHIL ME UP!

 
Right?  Even though this one doesn't sound like a standard Dead song, it is unmistakable who is playing when Phil lights up Big Brown. 

This seems to divide opinions, even among DeadHeads. Sound like The Dead doing prog rock, I rather like it.


This may be the worst thing they've over done. Put the pipe down for god's sake! \
Not sure I've heard this one before. I'm digging it.
god only knows how these guys could produce a perfect shimmering piece of pop music one minute and an endlessly torturous, self indulgent wankfest like this the next? what this 'Unbroken Chain' needs is a good set of bolt cutters! Solid 3. 
The one Dead album I liked and owned. More songwriting, less noodling, and love this voice!! Thanks RP
I was thinking - one of the few dead songs I can stomach. Go figure - to each his own.
Oh no! Not this horrid thing again!!!
 mobboss wrote:
I don't know what the mystery is. Having done hallucinogenics a few times that tinkling, cascading sound was often in the background of my hearing. One of the side effects of the acid. From the first time I heard this I had a picture in my mind of a long, great outdoors in the mountains psychedelic experience. One where intense things were seen and incredible connections made concerning nature, humans, and animals. I think it's well structured and beautiful. Whenever I hear it, and that's not often enough, I stop doing everything and just enjoy it. YMMV.

 
YMMV is the truth.  If I heard this tinny, I am at the dentist with a chop saw sound while tripping I would never have tripped again.  UGH!!
 muchardt wrote:
Unbroken Chain is an incredible song. The chord progression is very complex and nuanced - and melodic! The lyrics are meaningful and thought provoking. The guitar solo is classic Jerry. As a whole piece of music it is a revelation. The "jet landing sound", that so many complain about, is an integral part of the song. I feel as though it represents a decompression or return to safe port and therefore find it relaxing. I am a musician and do not consider myself a DeadHead but, in my humble opinion, this song is a musical masterpiece and Mars Hotel is their best album. Listen with an open mind!

  
bam23 wrote:

Congratulations are in order for a thoughtful and knowledgable comment on this song. It hardly matters whether you are, or are not, a fan of the band. If only more of those who feel compelled to comment here were able to offer such thoughts... I have always very much liked this rather atypical Dead song.

  
mobboss wrote:
I don't know what the mystery is. Having done hallucinogenics a few times that tinkling, cascading sound was often in the background of my hearing. One of the side effects of the acid. From the first time I heard this I had a picture in my mind of a long, great outdoors in the mountains psychedelic experience. One where intense things were seen and incredible connections made concerning nature, humans, and animals. I think it's well structured and beautiful. Whenever I hear it, and that's not often enough, I stop doing everything and just enjoy it. YMMV.

  
karen wrote:

I wholeheartedly second that, mobboss

 
Lotsa love to counter the h8 on this beautiful, beautiful number.  Like to see it.


'Do not adjust your set' - I rarely hit the PSD button but this messed with my head, and not in a good way. Sorry, no.
 mobboss wrote:
I don't know what the mystery is. Having done hallucinogenics a few times that tinkling, cascading sound was often in the background of my hearing. One of the side effects of the acid. From the first time I heard this I had a picture in my mind of a long, great outdoors in the mountains psychedelic experience. One where intense things were seen and incredible connections made concerning nature, humans, and animals. I think it's well structured and beautiful. Whenever I hear it, and that's not often enough, I stop doing everything and just enjoy it. YMMV.

 
I wholeheartedly second that, mobboss
You don't hear this one often, even here.  Thanks Bill, refreshing.
PHIL ME UP!
I don't know what the mystery is. Having done hallucinogenics a few times that tinkling, cascading sound was often in the background of my hearing. One of the side effects of the acid. From the first time I heard this I had a picture in my mind of a long, great outdoors in the mountains psychedelic experience. One where intense things were seen and incredible connections made concerning nature, humans, and animals. I think it's well structured and beautiful. Whenever I hear it, and that's not often enough, I stop doing everything and just enjoy it. YMMV.
...unbroken chain saw...

 Megavolt wrote:
What the hell is that fingernails-on-chalkboard sound? Aargh!

{#Frustrated} 

Makes a a lame song actually painful.  

 
lol yeah, dont mind the song but that sound is horrible. :/ thought it came from somewhere else...
 muchardt wrote:
Unbroken Chain is an incredible song. The chord progression is very complex and nuanced - and melodic! The lyrics are meaningful and thought provoking. The guitar solo is classic Jerry. As a whole piece of music it is a revelation. The "jet landing sound", that so many complain about, is an integral part of the song. I feel as though it represents a decompression or return to safe port and therefore find it relaxing. I am a musician and do not consider myself a DeadHead but, in my humble opinion, this song is a musical masterpiece and Mars Hotel is their best album. Listen with an open mind!

 
Congratulations are in order for a thoughtful and knowledgable comment on this song. It hardly matters whether you are, or are not, a fan of the band. If only more of those who feel compelled to comment here were able to offer such thoughts... I have always very much liked this rather atypical Dead song.
Unbroken chain...heck yeah.  I heard them ptemier this live in 93/94.  From an album 20 yrs old.  
 Megavolt wrote:
What the hell is that fingernails-on-chalkboard sound? Aargh!

{#Frustrated} 

Makes a a lame song actually painful.  

 
Loved this song when it came out, and had to turn it up when it came on now.  No pain here...!
How these guys are still around is beyond me.
What the hell is that fingernails-on-chalkboard sound? Aargh!

{#Frustrated} 

Makes a a lame song actually painful.  
dog whistle? Horrible noise 
 LinThizzy wrote:
Sounds like someone running a circular saw at certain points in the song.
I love the daed! 

 
EEEK!!!  LOVE THE DEAD, HATE CIRCULAR SAW NOISE!!! {#Frustrated}
This is a weird song: the first half is pretty good with the guitar riffs...the second has the cheezy keyboards and terrible vocals.

This may explain why I don't think I heard it at their shows.  
This cut ha aged fairly well, given the too-much-artistic-control album.  I don't hear the background noise cited below. They were in the throes of not breakup, but self-production of records.  They shoulda stuck to their night-jobs.  This cut has some of the finest (actually, fully there) Garcia jazz-noodling that he recorded.
Sounds like someone running a circular saw at certain points in the song.
I love the daed! 
I support and repair computers for my day job and the background noise is just like the sound of a computer hard drive about to fail. I was not expecting to hear it in a Grateful Dead track - or in any music to be honest. Takes all sorts I suppose.
As someone who usually dislikes anything from Grateful Dead. I actually like the wondering nature of this. It's disjointed and messy...yet it's very in tune (unusual characteristic) and the arrangement has a randomness about it that is appealing. Hmmm...am I changing?
I feel like I'm standing in a hallway and in each room leading off it a different piece of music is playing. Just to add to the din, in one room somebody is doing a spot of DIY, or is that the one with the dentist in it ... Unlistenable, time to move on and hit PSD
 Al_Koholic wrote:

Ugly Rumors is what it says-there were rumors at the time that they were going to break up

 
ugly rumors

Yes, upside-down and backwards.
Just left my first 1 (I think) due to the horrible ear-splitting noise in this song. I thought someone was shearing metal outside my window.
 grahamdillabough wrote:
Great song!
Anybody figure out the writing below the album title?  :-)  Wonder what it means? 

 
Ugly Rumors is what it says-there were rumors at the time that they were going to break up
 unclelonghair wrote:
Boy that is an incredibly annoying fingers-on-the-chalkboard distortion or something happening on the song. Not sure if that is an mp3 artifact or what, but the song is unlistenable. I thought something was wrong with my speakers. No kidding. I turned off the music for a few minutes to let the song pass. Might want to check that.
 
We live on a busy airport glide-path, and I thought for a second that a 737 was about crash into my house.
Great song!
Anybody figure out the writing below the album title?  :-)  Wonder what it means? 
Unbroken Chain is an incredible song. The chord progression is very complex and nuanced - and melodic! The lyrics are meaningful and thought provoking. The guitar solo is classic Jerry. As a whole piece of music it is a revelation. The "jet landing sound", that so many complain about, is an integral part of the song. I feel as though it represents a decompression or return to safe port and therefore find it relaxing. I am a musician and do not consider myself a DeadHead but, in my humble opinion, this song is a musical masterpiece and Mars Hotel is their best album. Listen with an open mind!
 Jelani wrote:
Would someone fix that leaky pipe please!!!!!!
 
I swear, I thought something was wrong with my house. I had to turn down my speakers to determine that it was the song.

 frednic wrote:
It sounds like a UFO coming in for a landing. Some people have no imagination.
 

I like to think of it as the Dead themselves coming in for a landing at the Mars Hotel.
HOLY CRAP! What's with the high-pitched whine? Make it stop!!!!
 Alafia wrote:

Ah, the many delirious nights spent in the "Phil Zone"...

 
Right there with you, sis.

EXACTLY.  



 BasmntMadman wrote:
I find that high pitched whining sound reassuring. It means there's still a little high-frequency response left in the ears, anyway.
 

Tedious burned out hippies.
 Jelani wrote:
Would someone fix that leaky pipe please!!!!!!
 
 This is the Dead, Etiquette demands that you PASS the pipe, if it's wonky the next person will fix it.

nightie night...
Like it or not.. If you can hear it, this has one of the most outstanding syncopated guitar solos available for ears....{#Music}

Wow. High pitch sound gave me a headache with headphones.
 I was thinking WTF is that noise?, but this comment made me feel better. 

BasmntMadman wrote:
I find that high pitched whining sound reassuring. It means there's still a little high-frequency response left in the ears, anyway.
 
I still don't like the noise and I wouldn't listen to this song if I weren't too lazy to turn things off.

Excelsior wrote:
Rating dropped every time the high pitched sound came on... until it hit a 1.

Yeah.  My wife can't tolerate it.
And I agree, it just takes away from the song, the rest of which is good.
Wonder who's dumb idea it was to put it in there...


 miahfost wrote:
Umm, LSD anyone?
 
Yes, please pass the four-way....
High pitched sound = recording session at end of runway at LAX (since lead guy died must be on a tight budget).

Ah, the many delirious nights spent in the "Phil Zone"...

I always wondered why Jerry sounded so weird on this track.... because it's Phil!

(Who knew?)
Rating dropped every time the high pitched sound came on... until it hit a 1.
OW.
reckonized this from the high pitch sound from my headphones sitting on my desk. "Ohhhh!, Greatful Dead!", I said to myself. But the good memories faded quickly, not so sure reality and the Dead mix well and right now, reality is rearing its head
Wonderful to hear this. I distinctly recall first hearing the song on Mars Hotel in my apartment in Germantown Philadelphia 1974, under the influence of some mycelia and their associated alkaloids. As much as I agree that Dead songs in concert were more often improvements over the records, Phil's voice was rarely any better than this. His singing has never been stellar, anyway. Pay attention to the thundering bass at the beginning and you should not be disappointed.
:sunny: :yes:
It sounds like a UFO coming in for a landing. Some people have no imagination. :good-vibes: unclelonghair wrote:
Boy that is an incredibly annoying fingers-on-the-chalkboard distortion or something happening on the song. Not sure if that is an mp3 artifact or what, but the song is unlistenable. I thought something was wrong with my speakers. No kidding. I turned off the music for a few minutes to let the song pass. Might want to check that.
I find that high pitched whining sound reassuring. It means there's still a little high-frequency response left in the ears, anyway.
TeamMetz wrote:
If you have seen them 20+ times, the Dead are incredibly refreshing. Sure the vocals suck, but that's because your voice is missing if all you do is listen. They must be sung with, until the rift.
I probably saw them 20 times, I can't quite remember. I had many roommates in college that threw me into the van to go to concerts. My biggest concern was to find a seat where I was pretty sure no one would throw up on me. I like the odd song, but ...
You pretty much either get the Grateful Dead or you don't. I don't.
I like that weird sound in the background
...bonus points for that dingly thing...
MAKE IT STOP!
Umm, LSD anyone?
Jelani wrote:
Oh, that is the most annoying sound! I'd rather put my ear up to a jet engine or poke it with a meat thermometer!
Why do I have a collection of dogs outside my window?
If you have seen them 20+ times, the Dead are incredibly refreshing. Sure the vocals suck, but that's because your voice is missing if all you do is listen. They must be sung with, until the rift.
Oh, that is the most annoying sound! I'd rather put my ear up to a jet engine or poke it with a meat thermometer!
What an incredible treat. Only on RP.
unclelonghair wrote:
Boy that is an incredibly annoying fingers-on-the-chalkboard distortion or something happening on the song. Not sure if that is an mp3 artifact or what, but the song is unlistenable. I thought something was wrong with my speakers. No kidding. I turned off the music for a few minutes to let the song pass. Might want to check that.
That is recorded in the song. No kidding. It used to cause all manner of ducking issues with the high frequency peak limiters in use at FM stations at the time when this was released.
agnes wrote:
This might be a good song, MIGHT be, but I can't even listen to the lyrics for the horrid, horrid singing. Wow.
It sounded a lot better an hour into a pot party...
Boy that is an incredibly annoying fingers-on-the-chalkboard distortion or something happening on the song. Not sure if that is an mp3 artifact or what, but the song is unlistenable. I thought something was wrong with my speakers. No kidding. I turned off the music for a few minutes to let the song pass. Might want to check that.
Despite its horrible production this album has always been a guilty pleasure.
A song like this makes it really hard to defend the Dead.
I feel like I'm on Space Mountain.
agnes wrote:
This might be a good song, MIGHT be, but I can't even listen to the lyrics for the horrid, horrid singing. Wow.
By today's standards, indeed, the vocals are not stellar. I think they were always much stronger instrumentalists.
This might be a good song, MIGHT be, but I can't even listen to the lyrics for the horrid, horrid singing. Wow.
DJac wrote:
Hang in there! Life (and the Dead) aren't that bad... :cowboy:
Life's OK; the Dead SUCK!
Ouch! Seriously, whatever that distortion is, it's actually causing me pain. Not kidding in the least, that's hitting some wierd harmonic and killing me. Gonna have to switch off a bit and check back later. Yucko!
drover wrote:
Proof positive that the ability to create a mood through lyric and arrangement can overcome truly mediocre technical ability.
Was that a compliment? Well, even if it was you haven't listened to enough dead if you would describe their technical ability as "mediocre."
Would someone fix that leaky pipe please!!!!!!
cjg wrote:
Let Phil Sing! Let Phil Sing! ... second thought, maybe not.
Not the best singer, but it's nice that they gave him the chance every now and again. And he's better then me, so I can't judge to harshly. Nice to hear some non-standard Dead from time to time.
PHIL!!!
(anyone recall the "prophesy" that when the Dead played this live, the band would be soon be over?  sure enough, they broke it out in early '95, and then.... {#Cry} )
Proof positive that the ability to create a mood through lyric and arrangement can overcome truly mediocre technical ability.
yum! (pimp) :goodvibes: :cowboy: :sunny: :goodvibes: (pimp) :goodvibes: :cowboy: :sunny: :goodvibes: (pimp)
healyf52 wrote:
Impeccable, unassailable, un-frought with unseemly sentimantality. Nothing better than this can be..
Well said. I'm upping my rating on this. Perfect!
Not the hard drive head crash song again! It's very disconcerting to hear that noise when you share your office with a couple dozen computers.
ahh... the perfect medicine for a friday morning hangover.
NutsyUK wrote:
Sorry its getting late and I didnt get much sleep last night :) Teeth and ears... :D
Hang in there! Life (and the Dead) aren't that bad... :cowboy:
DJac wrote:
...what are "teath" and "earts" anyway? I hope they're not malignant... :-k
Sorry its getting late and I didnt get much sleep last night :) Teeth and ears... :D
NutsyUK wrote:
Oh god... Really and awfull song. Not bad as a little smoky grove stuff.. But that high pitched synth widning down actualy HURTs... I mean PHYSICLY HURTS.... Making my teath and earts just tingles with PAIN....
...what are "teath" and "earts" anyway? I hope they're not malignant... :-k
God, I love that high pitched buzzing sound that sounds like a jetliner... it's so... affective! :whistle: :moon: :wave: :beat: :wave: :grouphug.gif: :cowboy: D'Jac
Let Phil Sing! Let Phil Sing! ... second thought, maybe not.
Oh god... Really and awfull song. Not bad as a little smoky grove stuff.. But that high pitched synth widning down actualy HURTs... I mean PHYSICLY HURTS.... Making my teath and earts just tingles with PAIN....
ChicoCyclist wrote:
Wow, that was dreadfully aweful. Seriously, you'd need some major drugs in order to endure that.
how very unoriginal.
Egrey wrote:
That high pitched buzzing in the song is irritating. A definite 1.
Yeah, what is that, a jetliner? aliasing? it sucks.
Excellent, Bill! Been a nice set list! What did the one hippie say to the other hippie when the Dead stopped playing? "Man, these drugs suck!" 8O :guitarist: :roflol: #-o :whistle: :notworthy: :clap: :drummer:
radiojunkie wrote:
I've never been a "Deadhead" -- I just like some of their stuff. So, objectively, I have to say this is one of my all-time favorites. I really prefer the Bob Weir leads to Jerry's vocals.....
Um yeah. OK. But this is Phil. Sometimes they let him sing.
Wow, that was dreadfully aweful. Seriously, you'd need some major drugs in order to endure that.
:sunny.gif: :bounce: :sunny.gif:
fantastic set!
I love the sound of the air plane in the background - so cool!
GregK wrote:
Play more Dead! :music:
what he said fred!
ahhhh.. thats better.
Play more Dead! :music:
Impeccable, unassailable, un-frought with unseemly sentimantality. Nothing better than this can be..
ummmmmm happy....
who is the Dj this is one of the most excellent sets EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!! how could this song not get a higher rating. or is it that you wish to hear the counting crows over this?
radiojunkie wrote:
this is not bob weir singing. it is phil lesh on lead vocals. I've never been a "Deadhead" -- I just like some of their stuff. So, objectively, I have to say this is one of my all-time favorites. I really prefer the Bob Weir leads to Jerry's vocals. And this was one of their more "spacey" albums, obviously. It just works well. And I haven't heard it in YEARS...it was one of their independent label LPs that went out of print for a long time. p.s. As a kid, I used to achieve a similar effect by hitting the Record button on my reel-to-reel tape recorder while it was in Rewind. Cool!
pontiff wrote:
great tune ... but like any head, I'm biased. which brings up an interesting point ... for dead fans, there's really no way to OBJECTIVELY judge a dead song.
I've never been a "Deadhead" -- I just like some of their stuff. So, objectively, I have to say this is one of my all-time favorites. I really prefer the Bob Weir leads to Jerry's vocals. And this was one of their more "spacey" albums, obviously. It just works well. And I haven't heard it in YEARS...it was one of their independent label LPs that went out of print for a long time. p.s. As a kid, I used to achieve a similar effect by hitting the Record button on my reel-to-reel tape recorder while it was in Rewind. Cool!
I guess I'm in the minority- the screech is just fine for me- It's part of the song, and just adds another dimension to it.
That high pitched buzzing in the song is irritating. A definite 1.