Analyzing the Donna Jean Godchaux Hate Train

From 1972 to 1979, Donna Jean Godchaux executed herself as an integral part of the Grateful Dead, and still, more than forty years later, she remains an important symbol of the band during their most prominent (and perhaps louded) touring period. As an outstanding vocalist and the only female member to ever play in the Grateful Dead, Donna has proved her legacy and impact on both the band and the entire culture of jam-band rocking itself. However, as with any well-known woman in the music industry, Donna’s place in the Grateful Dead has not come without its criticism. So, why is that?

Image source: Dead.net

The short answer: misogyny. 

The long answer: You can have whatever opinion you choose to have about Donna Jean Godchaux. Like her or hate her, she’s doing just fine in 2020. And truly, when you strip back all of the excuses and weak-boned reasonings for why Donna is disliked the most, you discover that you can apply almost any of that criticism to the other members. For example, let’s take the age-old excuse that Donna “ruined” the music with her off-pitch vocals. Donna herself understands where the criticism comes from, but she’s more than willing to offer another perspective. 

“I was a studio singer, never singing off-key. I was used to having headphones and being in a controlled environment,” Donna stated in a 2014 interview with Rolling Stone.“…I’ve seen on Facebook people say, ‘Well, they didn’t always sing so great themselves!’

It’s no secret that being a woman in the music industry comes with a unique set of challenges and animosity- predominantly, in the form of an outpouring from the media. Rock ‘n’ roll in America has seemingly had a longstanding “no girls allowed” attitude, undeniably lends itself to the sexism Donna faced while serving as a vocalist for the band. Even before Donna’s career in the band, other budding female rock stars, most notably Janis Joplin, were already receiving flack for going against what was expected. After all, Janis Joplin was no soft, delicate 1960s housewife. She challenged both standards of beauty and standards of womanity- a path which may have paved the way for future singers, such as Donna.

Throughout her successful seven-year career with the Grateful Dead, Donna Jean proved herself as a force to be reckoned with, and a strong woman who refused to be “lumped in” or molded to fit the box of what was expected of a woman at that time. She proved that the word “woman” itself didn’t have to be a music genre itself- that she could bring flavor and creativity to the band and still feel original. Regardless of how you feel about her, her vocals are here to stay on some of the Dead’s most celebrated albums, such as Europe ‘72 and Terrapin Station

I want to conclude by saying this: you don’t have to love Donna or her unique vocals, but you cannot deny her long lasting impact of success on the band and her role in some of the Dead’s most remembered touring days. Donna, we’re so proud of you for playin’ with the band.

Secondhand Thrift Haul: Summer Picks

As a Bostonian, I am extremely lucky to be near The Garment District- a department store notable for its wide selection of vintage products. For a thrift lover like me, it’s an absolute dream come true to visit the giant two-floor shop and browse for unique, vintage finds. According to The Garment District website, they pride themselves on being a “green business.” Not only are they doing a great thing by reselling wonderful vintage clothing, which helps prevent the buildup of clothes in landfills, they also send unusable clothes to “shoddy mills” so that they can be repurposed into other textiles.

Now, I don’t have tons of free money to throw around, so if I am going to buy clothes, it’s going to be something I keep for years and utilize as an essential clothing item. I’m really in love with everything I bought, and I’m looking forward to getting a good use out of everything! The only thing I didn’t actually buy myself was the pink top, as my roommate actually bought it at The Garment District with me, but then decided she didn’t like it.


“Grateful I’m Not Dead” T-Shirt | $16

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Speaking of my roommate, it was actually her who spotted this Grateful Dead t-shirt for me on the tye dye rack. Erin, if you’re reading this, you have no idea how happy this made me! I absolutely adore the Grateful Dead, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a vintage t-shirt in such great condition. I also like that the shirt is an XL, because I definitely prefer to wear t-shirts that are a bit loose on me. Nathaniel is also super excited about the shirt, so I’ll definitely be sharing it with him. 


Wide-Leg Jeans | $15 | Ann Taylor

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please ignore my messy room

I’ve wanted to buy bell-bottom jeans (or something similar) for a while now, so I was pretty excited to find the perfect pair in my size. Being a curvy girl, I prefer jeans that are high-waisted and flattering for my figure, and these jeans make me look absolutely fabulous. They also make my legs look ten miles long, particularly when paired with my favorite pair of wedges. I can always justify buying a good pair of vintage jeans, and for fifteen dollars, I’d be silly not to get them. 


Shorts | $15 | Bugle Boy Company

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I’ve never owned a pair of baggy shorts, and I have to say, I love them way more than my tight-fitting ones. Sure, they make my ass look like a blob, but they’re very comfortable and functional for the humid summertime ahead. Particularly since I’m going to Maine to visit my mom in about a week, I figured it would be convenient to buy a pair of durable, comfortable shorts to wear on hikes and kayaking adventures. As you can see, I have paired it with my new favorite Grateful Dead tye dye shirt, and I think it looks so groovy and cute. 


Belt | $12 | Lucky Brand 

I haven’t owned a belt since middle school, and it’s not often you find a Lucky Brand item for so cheap, so I figured this would also be a practical, reasonable purchase. For a while, I was pretty much only wearing yoga pants and pajama bottoms (that quarantine life,) but I decided this week it was probably high time I buy some real pants and a real belt to go with them.


Top | LOVESAM

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Like I said, this was actually a top that Erin bought, but she decided she didn’t like it after she realized it had sleeves. I have to say, the sleeves are actually my favorite part. I think the cut and the material combined with the sleeves give this top a real 70s vibe, which matches the rest of the clothes I bought perfectly. I also think the color is beautiful, as I love wearing pinks and other soft, pastel colors throughout the spring and summer. I’m not sure how much Erin paid for the top, but I’m going to guess it was between $10-15. I also just peaked at the LOVESAM website, and it looks like everything in stock is between $150-200. Not a bad steal! 


Dress | $20 | Modcloth

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Lastly but certainly not least, I fell in love with this Modcloth brand dress in the contemporary dresses department. I adore anything quirky and floral, so of course I could immediately picture myself in this lovely little number. I also really like the color scheme of garish greens and yellows, because it reminds me of the Beach Boys Pet Sounds album. This will be another great outfit to bring to Maine next week, because the cotton material is light, airy, and perfect for traveling. Similarly to my flare jeans, this dress also looks really cute with the wedges.


Overall, I would say this was a successful, productive shopping trip. On top of that, I am happy to be supporting such a progressive, green company through my clothing purchases. If you are ever in the Boston area, I highly recommend visiting the Cambridge location of The Garment District!