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Deadhead's Lament

September 28, 1986

In the lead-in to his article "Radio Stations Tune Out Drugs" (Sept. 15), David Crook demonstrates that the most innocuous changes in a text, removed from context, can result in a 180-degree change in meaning.

The quotation, as printed, read, "Living on reds, vitamin C and cocaine / All our friends can say is 'ain't it a shame.' " ("Truckin'," Grateful Dead). Crook uses the lyrics to illustrate the pro-drug stance which he perceives in much of popular music.

Interestingly, the verse provides a strong anti-drug message emphasizing the dangers of drug use--when quoted accurately: "What in the world ever became of sweet Jane? / She lost her sparkle you know she isn't the same / Living on reds, vitamin C and cocaine / All a friend can say is, 'ain't it a shame.' "

I have little doubt that examples of lyrics espousing drug use may be found in popular music. But if the real McCoys were such a cinch, surely Crook's point of view would be more effectively supported by accurately citing a contemporary example rather than by adulterating the content of a song written more than 15 years ago.

When attempting to comment on the sociopolitical impact of music on our culture, I would hope that the "research" underlying the journalism would consist of more than just that: "How did that song go again?" . . . hum a few bars, and . . . "Oh yeah, that's it, that the ticket."

RONALD GARY

Costa Mesa

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