and sinewy threads. We’re going with this 1970 version because of Jerry’s emotional vocal delivery and the snaky, all-too-rare, slide solo that leans heavily on the old country blues lament “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.”. 50. List of the best Grateful Dead songs, ranked by fans like you. 10. Available on Dick’s Picks Vol. Because that’s where the magic happened with this band. “Weather Report Suite”/“Let It Grow”August 4, 1974; Philadelphia Civic Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 29-28. “Good Lovin’ ”January 2, 1972; Winterland Ballroom, San Francisco. Jerry Garcia “Goddamn, well I declare, have you seen the like? 38. 46. Pig Pen Thru T.C. Or “Deal”? 47. Because that’s where the magic happened with this band. Available on Dicks Pick’s Vol. Collected on the bonus disc of Road Trips Vol. Winterland, San Francisco March 18th, 1967 Warner Bros. Records released the Dead’s debut album, The Grateful Dead – … Posted by 1 year ago. 8. It was released on March 23, 2018. This one is over-the-top spectacular, with super high-energy jamming all the way through its generous length; one of several highlights in an amazing show from an underrated year. Available on Dick’s Picks Vol. Best live songs on Spotify. Call it jagged, gnarly, noisy or unpleasant, the fact is this dissonant late Eighties Weir song was a darkly powerful force to be reckoned with, and almost featured a harrowing jam, as its ascending lines crashed and clashed. Just as the Grateful Dead were more than just a “jam band,” Jerry Garcia was more than just the affable Captain Trips of the scene. Speedy and adventurous, this one has a searing middle jam and then a really long ride before the final vocal reprise—which doesn’t materialize! Available on Dick’s Picks Vol. Most songs changed so much from when they were written over the years that it's hard to come up with a Best Ever. Keith '71 - '72 Keith '73 - '74 Keith '75 - '79 Brent '79 - '86 Brent '87 - '90 Hornsby Welnick … The ongoing success of the many Phil Lesh & Friends lineups and, more recently, Dead and Company, featuring newish Dead convert John Mayer (playing with Bob Weir and Grateful Dead drummers Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart), show that the Dead’s legacy is very much intact and that the music is continuing to evolve. Eighties pick: Greek Theatre 7-15-84; cool and jazzy. Top Answer. 44. The Grateful Dead … Not a lot of songs about love. So many contenders! 1. This one hits all its marks beautifully, including a nice “landing” after the jam. They brought it all together in a unique mélange that took them from the fire-breathing psychedelia of the late Sixties, to the Dead Americana of Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty, and far beyond. “Shakedown Street”June 30, 1985; Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, Maryland. “Lost Sailor” is drifty and floaty, with a slightly odd structure (that works! Visit our corporate site. Dig that clavinet! Available on Road Trips Vol. Nearly every version is a blazing psychedelic swirl. As Pigpen’s raps on this tend to be fairly similar one to the next, with a few notable exceptions (such as Princeton 4-17-71 with the famous “Brooklyn Bridge” rap), I tend to judge them by what the band does behind him. 22. 2018 Preview SONG TIME St. Stephen (Live at the Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA 2/27/69) [Remastered] 1. A couple of final notes: The songs are listed in chronological order by performance date. The interplay between Garcia (again with the envelope-wah) and Weir (who artfully employs a phase-pedal wah and octave divider in the middle of the jam) is deliciously rhythmic, and Brent adds much with his keyboards as well. “Scarlet Begonias” > “Fire on the Mountain”May 8, 1977; Barton Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. Indeed, the events of that year seem to have both rekindled the ardor for the group’s music in many Deadheads who dropped off the psychedelic bus following Jerry Garcia’s death in the summer of 1995, and also brought in many new fans who never had a chance to see the band but are attracted by the Dead’s amazingly diverse and appealing songbook, and the colorful, upbeat, Sixties glow that will forever surround the group. The longest and perhaps most intense versions are from the late period of the song’s relatively brief existence in the repertoire (such as Chicago 4-26-69 and Harpur College 5-2-70), but this one from 1967 really encapsulates what made this song such an important part of the Dead’s first years—it was the biggest jamming vehicle for the early group, capturing that era’s feral intensity, with all the parts interlocking, more by kismet than by calculation, Phil completely monstrous on the bass, and [Ron] Pigpen [McKernan’s] swirling organ still such a fundamental part of the sound. Eighties pick: Laguna Seca 7-29-88; a rare later version that includes the “reprise.”. Fittingly, the album is closed by a version of "So Many Roads" taken from the Dead's final show at Chicago's Soldier Field on July 9, 1995. 29. My own preferences run toward the driving, high-energy Brent-era versions ’79–’90 (I loved what Brent’s B-3 and backup vocals added), but it’s hard to argue with the primacy of Cornell ’77, which has the unbeatable ending “Fire on the Mountain” jam (but the best-ever “Scarlet” is the amazing Giants Stadium 9-2-78 version). “Dear Mr. Fantasy”July 2, 1989; Sullivan Stadium, Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Dead started playing it in 1967, and recorded it on their first album, The Grateful Dead, as well as featuring it on the live Europe 72. The Grateful Dead: A Guide to Their Essential Live Songs By Pitchfork. T his has nothing to do with great songs (like Ripple or Box of Rain), or great versions of songs (like Ruben and Cherise at Folsom Prison). Eighties pick: “Let It Grow”: Alpine Valley 8-7-82. No collection should be without the superb 2013 set called Sunshine Daydream, which includes the full concert and also a DVD of the trippy, long-bootlegged-but-now-restored film of (some of) the event that gives the box its name. This perky little number took the Dead’s Americana thrust in a slightly new direction, with its nod to old-time jazz, as well as country flavors. Alright so here we go, a little break-down for you of some of the best live versions of a handful of their songs in my opinion: Terrapin Station @ Memorial Coliseum, U of Alabama on 1977-05-17. The difficulty, of course, is narrowing it down to just 50. A new Grateful Dead live album, Ready or Not, drops November. But here’s the cool news: There’s a fantastic web site called headyversion.com that is the ultimate resource for listening to the “best” versions of Grateful Dead songs. Instead, the boys drift into an unconnected spacey jam, then “Drums,” “Space,” a fantastic “Playing in the Band” reprise, and then back to the “Uncle John’s” vocal reprise; stunning! This was the year that “Bird Song” really blossomed; from here on out it was a cherished jamming vehicle (usually) in GD first-sets; not as common as some, but always welcome when it flew in. "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl"February 14, 1968; Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA. I really love all the peppy [keyboardist] Brent Mydland–era “China-Riders,” too. Available on the bonus disc of Road Trips Vol. Weir’s three-part “Weather Report Suite” (“Prelude” > “Part One” > “Let It Grow”) was an important part of many shows only in ’73-’74; then “Let It Grow” alone was a fast-paced, multi-textured spin-off from ’76–’95. We really saved the best for last. Of course, there is no true consensus on any of this, but it is fair to say that there is widespread agreement that certain versions of certain songs would probably make most discerning Deadheads’ lists. Their styles couldn’t be more different, but they were completely sympathetic players, tightly enmeshed and equally in sync with bassist Lesh (another utterly unconventional player) and the drummers. “Not Fade Away” > “Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad”November 15, 1971; Austin Municipal Auditorium, Texas. Eighties pick: Greek Theatre 5-13-83; Seventies tempo, lots of jamming, nice work by Brent; look for the soundboard version on archive.org. The Grateful Dead … Not a lot of songs about love. 5. Please refresh the page and try again. Everyone, including band members, will tell you that studio albums never quite captured the Dead’s mystical X-factor. Listen to our best Grateful Dead songs playlist on Spotify. Nineties pick: RFK Stadium 6-14-91 (with Bruce Hornsby and MIDI Jerry) “Franklin’s Tower” alone: Cape Cod 10-27-79. This list is about the Grateful Dead's most exquisite improvised jams; the ones that go along with open car windows, solitary hikes in foreign places, and doodling travel sketches in old cafes. 19. The Grateful Dead lyricist died on Sept. 22 at age 78. It features previously unreleased songs recorded before Jerry Garcia's death. After about 11 minutes of floaty, drifty goodness leading up to the first verse, the jam gradually accelerates and starts to go more “out,” as Phil signals a shift to a mid-tempo cruising altitude, then does it again a few minutes later for a long spacey stretch. Although the Dead will never match the zillions of new Beatles covers released every day, the number of Dead … 17. Where to start with live Dead? Weir revived the song in earnest in 1977, and many fine versions of that more compact, but still energetic, showstopper abound. Don’t miss it! Fire on the Mountain. 15. 39. Coming on the heels of three live albums (Grateful Dead aka Skull & Roses, Europe ’72, and History of the Grateful Dead, Vol. Our team of experts breaks it down, combing through thousands of shows to find their greatest songs and most transcendent moments. Grateful Dead Highest-Charting Songs #1 Touch of Grey, 1987 #3 Hell in a Bucket, 1987 #8 Foolish Heart, 1989 #15 Throwing Stones, 1987 #37 Dire Wolf, 1981 #40 West L.A. Fadeaway, 1987 #41 Just a Little Light, 1990 Why live performances? 34. It was still powerful when it was revived in the mid Eighties, and from that era I’d recommend checking out Richmond Coliseum 11-1-85, which has a fragile but committed Jerry really baring his soul. Overall, my preference is for Brent-era versions, but there are many, many great ones from 1972 to 1979, and I have to concur with popular opinion that this one from the close of the Keith and Donna [Godchaux, singer] era smokes from beginning (“We used to play for acid/Now we play for Clive”) to the blistering ending jam. It combines a folk sensibility with its famous baroque-ish contrapuntal coda and crunching rock power. “Truckin’ ”May 19, 1974; Portland Memorial Coliseum, Oregon, Another nearly impossible choice, with more than 500 versions to pick from! Grateful Dead’s First Decade Captured in New Photo Memior. Road trips are excuses to listen to long, lazy Grateful Dead jams. As for the criteria for the choice of songs—most are ones that, over time, were most variable night to night either because of the jamming in them or the intensity of the vocal delivery, or some other elevating force. 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