Final Word from Thursday, July 16, 2015

For millions of Americans, the cultural event of the year was the string of five "Fare Thee Well" concerts of the surviving members of the Grateful Dead in late June and early July. Trying to explain to non-Deadheads in America what the big deal was is hard enough, much less to Czechs for whom the 60's and 70's psychedelia of San Francisco was all but lost behind the Iron Curtain. There is one small thing, though, that brings the two universes together. At a handful of their 2,300 live shows over 50 years, the Grateful Dead played a short instrumental version of Jaromír Vejvoda's "Škoda lásky" under the name "Beer Barrel Polka." Perhaps a few inquisitive Czechs can use it as a stepping stone to exploring the band's other music. Alas, "Beer Barrel Polka" wasn't among the 80 songs played on the farewell tour. Here's hoping, though, that the Grateful Dead will come out of retirement once again and roll out the barrel one last time. [Czech Republic Dead Heads music]

Glossary of difficult words

Roll Out the Barrel - an alternate title for "Beer Barrel Polka";

Deadhead - a fan and follower of the Grateful Dead;

psychedelia - music, culture or art based on experiences produced by psychedelic drugs;

inquisitive - curious or inquiring;

stepping stone - an undertaking or event that helps one to make progress toward a specified goal.

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