Grateful Dead

Celebrating Jerry

By Jesse Jarnow

Happy 75th, Jerry! Join us as we celebrate The Days Between with a 9-song playlist featuring some of Jerry's most magical live moments and one from the studio too. Check out the track-by-track commentary by Grateful Dead scribe Jesse Jarnow.

1. Touch of Grey (Garcia/Hunter)
July 12, 1989 RFK Stadium, Washington, DC
previously unreleased

By the time "Touch of Grey" became the Grateful Dead's only top 10 hit, in 1987, thanks in part to Gary Gutierrez's video, it had already been a smash among Deadheads for a half-decade. Debuted by the Dead in '82, the infectious melody and resilient chorus paired with some of Robert Hunter's most cutting lyrics to create a wry survivalist anthem for a strange decade. Not a platform for jamming, give or take Phil Lesh's running bass commentary, "Touch of Grey" remains first and foremost a great song, a hit, and Garcia leans into the vocal here, especially.

2. Terrapin Station (Garcia/Hunter)
May 7, 1977 Boston Garden, Boston, MA
Get Shown the Light (2017)

A few weeks into the Dead's revered spring '77 tour, "Terrapin Station" was at full glow. Recorded earlier that spring as the side-long title suite for the band's new album, the musicians began to exploring the shape and drama of Garcia and Hunter's epic during the month-and-half shows that followed. At Boston Garden, during his only tour playing the song on full grand piano, Keith Godchaux finds graceful new corners and spaces between verses and especially during the instrumental coda.

3. Eyes of the World (Garcia/Hunter)
May 7, 1977 Boston Garden, Boston, MA
Get Shown the Light (2017)

Dropping immediately into a Phil Lesh bass solo and a solid two minutes of jamming before the first verse, there's never a dull moment in this sparkling "Eyes of the World" from Boston Garden. Written during the band's fertile head-jazz period that culminated with 1975's Blues For Allah, the sextet '77 Dead deliver the song with both power and grace. Garcia's elegant mid-song solo is matched by strident conversational comping by pianist Keith Godchaux, a thread continued during the all-too-brief outro jam.

4. Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo (Garcia/Hunter)
May 25, 1977 Mosque, Richmond, VA
Dave's Picks, Volume 1 (2012)

Leading off Wake of the Flood in 1973--with many fine versions performed that year--"Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo" came to life especially in the spring of 1977. Assertive and magnificent in its show-opening slot in Richmond on May 25th, the song had grown multiple mighty jam peaks. The first comes at the end of Garcia's lyrical river-rush of a solo, the band dipping back down to a cool expanse, and--following Garcia, Weir, and Donna Jean Godchaux's gang chorus--rising to another huge rippling crest before gently coming ashore.

5. Dark Star (Grateful Dead/Hunter)
November 11, 1973 Winterland, San Francisco, CA
Winterland 1973: The Complete Recordings (2008)

The band's signature jam epic beginning soon after its writing in 1967, "Dark Star" billowed to its longest and jazziest during the band's years with one drummer, between 1971 and 1974. Clocking in at over a half-an-hour, the Winterland '73 version has some of the quintet's most locked-in and inventive improvisation. Floating gorgeously for the first 15 minutes, this "Dark Star" snaps into serious action after the song's verse, when drummer Bill Kreutzmann drops into a beat and the band dances through major key drama, free jazz dialogues, and eventually a double-time excursion on the glorious, soaring motif that Deadheads named the "Mind Left Body" jam.

6. Brown-Eyed Women (Garcia/Hunter)
May 9, 1977 War Memorial, Buffalo, NY
Get Shown the Light (2017)

A staple of the Garcia/Hunter Americana songbook, "Brown-Eyed Women" was virtually unchanged in tempo or arrangement between its summer 1971 introduction and its last performance in July 1995. It was in particularly sharp form in the spring of '77, surviving intact even following the return of second drummer Mickey Hart. By the time of the first set at Buffalo '77--which some have called the third set of the legendary Cornell show the night before--Garcia's solo was in the process of transforming from a simple statement of the melody to a curlicued dance over the chord changes.

7. Scarlet Begonias (Garcia/Hunter)
August 5, 1974 Civic Arena, Philadelphia, PA
Dick's Picks, Volume 31 (2004)

While transmogrifying into a monstrous groove with drummer Mickey Hart in 1977, the standalone versions of "Scarlet Begonias" from its debut year of 1974 possess a huge but delicate bounce all their own. The first to top the 10 minute mark, here the band stay in full joyous weave as they leap off into the jam, a comparably spare approach to the way they would approach the song after Hart's return. With all instrumentalists in joyous syncopated conversation through the band's crystalline Wall of Sound speaker array, Garcia's playing is pure sunshine.

8. Morning Dew (Bonnie Dobson)
May 8, 1977 Barton Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Get Shown the Light (2017)

Perhaps the Dead's definitive take of Bonnie Dobson's ballad about nuclear fallout, "Morning Dew" had been a centerpiece of Dead sets since its debut in 1967. The song slowed and opened up over the years, and Cornell '77 features some of Garcia's most majestic and inspired solos. Building to frenzied peak with Garcia fanning his guitar strings, the much-loved version is also one of Garcia's great vocal performances, right down to the narrator's final existential yell; a lyric Garcia likely added to the song himself.

9. Ripple (Garcia/Hunter)
October 1980 Radio City Music Hall, New York, NY
Reckoning (1981)

With only one surviving live version from the year "Ripple" was written, the song disappeared from the Dead's performances until their acoustic sets in the fall of 1980 in New York, New Orleans, and San Francisco. Transcending the Dead's ceaseless music evolution, "Ripple" emerged unchanged from the American Beauty arrangement, give or take David Grisman's mandolin and the big singalong ending. Turning up in folk songbooks and around campfires, the song the Dead formed only sparingly (and beautifully, as on Reckoning) became an American standard.

Tune in here.

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Joined: Jun 14 2007
Happy Jerry Week 8/9/2017

Jerry we miss you down here,I might have to put on Eyes of the World 10/19/1974 Winterland S.F. and Meditate on how much your music is so cool on so many levels,thank you for creating a sweet community of like minded folks to spend time with on Earth,my 52 Birthday is on the 11th of this month going to Phil's Terripan Crossroad on the 12th For lunch and show gives me Hope in these weird times Be well smitty

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Joined: Nov 30 2014
Jerry's 75th

Happy Birthday!!!!!

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Joined: Jan 13 2010
Happy Birthday, Jerry!

We miss you, bro.

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