20 Songs That Can ‘Represent’ The Career Of “The Grateful Dead”

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It’s gonna be a great, long, ludicrous, crazy list… Below are The 20 Songs That Can Represent The Career Of The Grateful Dead:

Scarlet/Fire (Live ’77)

‘Scarlet/Fire’ introduces our beloved Dead lyric of all time and written by the exceptional Robert Hunter: “Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.”

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Morning Dew

One of their songs that was not written by any member of the Grateful Dead but recorded and performed it as if it was their original.

Franklin’s Tower

The definitive “Grateful Dead sound” it’s on this tune. Makes your spirit in flight every time you listen to it.

Ramble On Rose

According to the site “The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics” this tune could be concerning American music, or of a card game, or about a man lingering too long to an immature lover.

He’s Gone

It’s fascinating how any tunes can bring a completely different purpose from the time they were originally written. This tune from “Europe ’72” was originally around the disappearance of drummer Mickey Hart’s father, Lenny Hart, who was serving as the band’s manager.

China Cat Sunflower

It was on that album that the long collaboration between Jerry García, as composer of the music, and Robert Hunter, as author of the lyrics, began, which would last the rest of the group’s career. One of their first collaborations was ‘China Cat Sunflower’, one of the songs that would go on to become a fixture in the band’s live repertoire, with more than 500 recorded recordings, most of them paired with ‘I know you rider’ , as you can see in the live ‘Europe 72’.

St. Stephen

The lyrics of the song refer to the first saint in the New Testament who was stoned to death. This is a live version in January 1969.

Dark star (Versión en directo de Live/Dead)

Although it was published in 1968 as the B-side of a single, in a version of just two minutes, the iconic version of it is the one that appears on ‘Live / Dead’, the band’s first live album with its most 20 minutes, many of which are occupied by Garcia’s solo.

Uncle John’s Band

‘Uncle John’s Band’, a song that many ‘deadheads’ see as a reference to the Grateful Dead themselves, with Garcia being the ‘Uncle John’ of the title.

Dire wolf

Another wonder that can be found in ‘Workingman’s dead’, ‘Dire wolf’ is a perfect example of the step taken at that time, from one electric and psychedelic band to another with The Band, folk and roots music as main references. This is a beautiful live TV version from 1981.

Eyes Of The World

Jerry Garcia’s guitar solos glide smoothly over the irresistible rhythm on this track from “Wake Of The Flood”. Can’t grow tired of this one.

Box Of Rain

Phil Lesh composed the tune to this track while Robert Hunter added the lyrics to a really special song for Lesh. According to Hunter Lesh, he needed a tune to sing to his dying dad and had written a song complete with every expressed nuance but the messages.

Foolish Heart

This has that “Touch of Grey” charm to it and you’ll just love Jerry’s vocals as he got older but better. That gentle raspy makes this one of the Dead’s bests.

Shakedown Street

It sounder quirky at first, not very Grateful Dead-like however you gotta loved and can’t resist it! It may be a Dead disco and not the Dead we know but damn the great groove is amazing.

Cosmic Charlie

Fascinating bluesy guitar performance from Jerry Garcia on a track that is believably based on Charles “Cosmic Charlie” Bosch. 

Truckin’

‘Truckin’, composed of the four main members, García, Lesh, Bob Weir and lyricist Robert Hunter who hit the spot with this description of life on the road that gave the band the phrase that would best define them: “what a long, strange trip it’s been.”

Friend Of The Devil

Song’s lyrics about an outlaw chased by the police and finally the Devil are pure Dead, but the most memorable thing is still the acoustic riff that García plays.

Ripple

‘Ripple’ is one of the prettiest and saddest melodies Garcia ever created and contains one of the lyrics Hunter is most proud of.

Loser

The best of the lot, how could it be otherwise, was Garcia’s, with 6 of his songs becoming fixed in the band’s live repertoire. Simply called ‘Garcia’ the album contains another of the great songs of the Garcia and Hunter couple, ‘Loser’.

Touch of Grey

The song became famous for its chorus “I will get by / I will survive”. It is the song that opens the tribute album ‘Day of the dead’ in the version of one of the groups most influenced by García and the Dead, The War On Drugs.