American Beauty is a 1970 album by The Grateful Dead, the sixth in their catalogue. Together with Workingman's Dead (1970) and Anthem of the Sun (1968) its often seen as their best. Therefore Anthem and American Beauty have been featured together in an episode of the documentary series Classic Albums. The album was listed at #261 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
The album generated the hit "Truckin'" and the fan favorites "Box of Rain", "Friend of the Devil" and "Sugar Magnolia". In 1997 "Truckin'" has been recognized by the United States Library of Congress as a "national treasure".
- "Box of Rain" (5:18)
- "Friend of the Devil" (3:24)
- "Sugar Magnolia" (3:19)
- "Operator" (2:25)
- "Candyman" (6:14)
- "Ripple" (4:09)
- "Brokedown Palace" (4:09)
- "Till the Morning Comes" (3:08)
- "Attics of My Life" (5:12)
- "Truckin'" (5:03)
- Jerry Garcia: vocals, lead guitar, pedal steel, piano
- Mickey Hart: percussion
- Bill Kreutzmann: drums
- Phil Lesh: bass guitar, piano, vocals
- Ron "Pigpen" McKernan: vocals, harmonica
- Bob Weir: vocals, guitar
- Robert Hunter: songwriter
- Dave Torbert: bass
- David Nelson: electric guitar
- David Grisman: mandolin
- Howard Wales: organ
- Ned Lagin: piano
Tropin', I'm goin' home
- American Title: "American Beauty".
- Break-Up Song: Brokedown Palace".
- The Casanova: "Candyman"Come all you pretty women with your hair hanging downOpen up your windows' cause the Candyman's in town(...) Pretty lady ain't got no friend till the Candyman come round again
- Crapsack World: "Truckin'" is about the band's misfortunes on the road, used as a metaphor for getting through the constant changes in life.
- Country Music and Folk Rock: The album is close to folk rock and country, much like their previous effort Workingman's Dead (1970)
- Deal with the Devil: "Friend of the Devil", where a man escapes from jail with help from the Devil, but ends up chasing him in the end.
- Declaration of Protection: "Till The Morning Comes"Tell you what I'll doI'll watch out for youYou're my woman nowMake yourself easy
- Drugs Are Bad: "Truckin'"What in the world ever became of sweet Jane?She lost her sparkle, you know she isn't the sameLivin' on reds, vitamin C, and cocaine,All a friend can say is "Ain't it a shame?"
- Epic Rocking: The 6:14 "Candyman".
- In Harmony with Nature: "Brokedown Palace"Goin' home, goin' home by the waterside I will rest my bonesListen to the river sing sweet songs to rock my soulGoin' to plant a weeping willowOn the banks green edge it will grow grow growSing a lullaby beside the waterLovers come and go - the river roll roll roll
- Mundane Made Awesome: The title was inspired by a type of rose, which is depicted on the cover.
- Non-Appearing Title: "American Beauty" does not appear in any of the lyrics.
- One-Man Song: "Candyman".
- One-Word Title: "Operator", "Ripple", "Truckin'"
- Outlaw: "Friend of the Devil" is about a man on the run from the police who is helped to escape by the Devil, but winds up chasing him instead.
- Parental Love Song: "Box of Rain", dedicated to Phil Lesh's dying father.
- Polyamory: "Friend Of The Devil"Got a wife in Chino, babe, and one in Cherokee
- The Power of Love:
She's got everything delightful, she's got everything I need,Takes the wheel when I'm seeing double, pays my ticket when I speed
- "Sugar Magnolia"
You're my woman now, make yourself easy.
- "Till the Morning Comes"
- The Power of Rock:
Listen to the river sing sweet songs to rock my soul
- "Brokedown Palace"
If my words did glow with the gold of sunshineAnd my tunes were played on the harp unstrung,Would you hear my voice come through the music?Would you hold it near as it were your own?It's a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken,Perhaps they're better left unsung.I don't know, don't really careLet there be songs to fill the air.
- The Problem with Pen Island: The word "American Beauty" on the cover can be also read as "American Reality". This seems to have been intentional.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: "Box of Rain" was written by Phil Lesh for his father, who had terminal cancer. The events in "Truckin'" are all situations that actually happened to the band on the road.
- Road Trip Plot: "Truckin'"Truckin', I'm a goin' home, whoa whoa baby, back where I belongBack home, sit down and patch my bones, and get back truckin' on
- Shout-Out: The album title was referenced in the title of American Beauty (1999).
- The Secret History: Hippies only allow admission to the bunker to those who can recite the second verse of "Sugar Magnolia".
- Siamese Twin Songs: "Ripple" -> "Brokedown Palace".
- Time Marches On: "Operator", where the protagonist asks for the operator to help him to the right area code and number. In today's era of cell phones the lyrics tend to be dated.
- Title-Only Chorus: "Truckin'"
- Wanderlust Song: "Friend of the Devil", where the protagonist is on the run from the law.
What a long, strange trip it's been....