In the past I’ve made lists of when the Dead started playing their songs:
I thought it might be interesting to see a list from the opposite perspective, chronologically showing when the Dead stopped playing their songs. This is their abandoned repertoire, the songs the Dead got tired of playing.
This list only goes up through 1974. The hiatus provided a convenient break; when the Dead returned to touring in 1976, their repertoire was a lot slimmer. Songs came back at different times after the hiatus, some not for years; some songs would drop out and be revived more than once, making for a complicated history. I also wanted to focus on the early Dead and the choices they made in their most prolific period, when all these songs were relatively new and more songs were frequently being added to their sets. So this list shows the songs the Dead stopped playing before October 1974. (Many of them, of course, came back later.)
For the history of the Dead’s songs in later years, see:
This list does not include 1966, a year in which many songs were tried out and abandoned, but starts with the active 1967 repertoire. There are over thirty songs the Dead stopped playing by 1967, though many of them were revived later on. For details on those early songs, see:
Studio rehearsals and soundchecks are not included. For instance, several songs the Dead had stopped playing appear in the September ’71 rehearsals with Keith Godchaux; and a few stray soundcheck tapes such as 12/12/73 have songs the Dead otherwise weren’t playing live. These would be out of place in a list of the Dead’s live repertoire – they are accidental, fragmentary captures of a much larger “hidden” or potential repertoire, songs the Dead didn’t work up for an audience.
At first I thought I would include the number of times each song was played, but that was impossible. Due to all the “lost” shows of 1966-1970, our tapes are only a sampling of shows, the ratio improving in parts of ’69-70; and the earlier a song was debuted, the more performances are lost. Songs that were played from ’66-68 were likely played dozens of times more than we know about. (In some cases we could be missing well over a hundred versions of a song!) Only with songs that debuted in 1971 and later can we say definitely how many times they were played; and there are less than twenty of those on this list.
So I decided, instead, to list the first and last dates each song was played, showing the time range it was in the repertoire. Some of these songs lasted for years; others, less than a month.
Note that when a song was “first played” in 1966-67, that only indicates our earliest tape of it; the Dead could have been playing it months earlier. In some cases, the “last time played” in 1967-69 could be months too early, as well; so the dates for the earlier songs on this list are probably just a rough approximation of how long they were played. Only starting in late 1970 can we can be sure the dates are accurate.
You’ll find several other related lists here as well, including:
- Rare covers played only 2-3 times
- Songs that had gone on hiatus prior to 1974
- Songs revived in 1974
- Songs only played once up to 1974
This post is meant for deep setlist obsessives.
CREAM PUFF WAR - 4/8/67
Played since 5/19/66.
Garcia, 1986: “That’s one of those tunes that’s so old it’s totally embarrassing. I’d just as soon everybody forgot about it.” (Steve Marcus interview, October 1986)
Garcia, 1991: “I felt my lyric writing was woefully inadequate.” (Golden Road, Spring 1991)
LINDY (aka OVERSEAS STOMP) - 8/4/67
Played since 12/1/66. No other live 1967 performances known.
(Had been played by Mother McCree’s in 1964.)
Missing from the Archive copies of 8/4/67.
GOLDEN ROAD - “5/5/67” (unknown date, summer ’67)
Played since 3/18/67. (Only two performances on tape.)
Weir, 6/7/70: “Hey, there’s a guy over there, and he’s always over there, and he always yells out ‘Golden Road.’ And I want to know who he is, man, because you take the cake. I mean, actually, quite truthfully, we’ve forgotten that song, we’ve forgotten how to play it.”
Garcia, 1986: “No, I don’t think we could do it [again]. It belonged too much to that moment.” (Steve Marcus interview, October 1986)
Garcia, 1991: “‘Golden Road’ was our effort at nailing down some of that [Haight] feeling, I guess. That was sort of a group writing experience before Hunter was with us. We kept it simple. But what could you say, really? ‘We took a bunch of acid and had a lot of fun?’” (Golden Road, Spring 1991)
BORN CROSS-EYED - 3/30/68
Played since 1/17/68.
Weir, 1969: “My song-writing career has been slowed up because I can't think of any decent words to sing. That's kind of gotten to me after the last album. You come to that particular point where you've written a song, and you hear it on the album and the words are so ‘nada.’ They don't really say anything, they're just…a handle with which to carry a tune. And they could be ever so much more.” (Wanger/Frost radio documentary, June 1969)
Weir, 1971: “I had retired for the longest time with ‘Born Cross-Eyed,’ which didn’t come out like I had imagined it. I had it all together in my head, but at that time, I just was not able to convey to a band what it was I wanted to hear. So it was useless for me to write a song. Garcia had been working with bands for a long time, and I was relatively new to it. Garcia knew how to tell a band what he wanted to hear and all that. If you’re writing a song, you have to be able to express yourself to the people you’re working with or you’re never going to get what you want. It’s frustrating.” (Crawdaddy, September 1972)
Lesh, 1994: “[Vince] wants to dig up all that stuff and we could, of course, if we ever rehearsed. I’d love to do ‘Born Cross-Eyed.’ Hell, I could get a pair of timpani out there!” (Golden Road, Spring 1994)
CLEMENTINE - 1/26/69
Played since 1/20/68; rarely heard on tape after 2/2/68.
NEW POTATO CABOOSE - 6/8/69
Played since 8/4/67.
Q, 1971: “Are you still playing ‘New Potato Caboose’ and other old songs?
Weir: “No, I don’t think we could even remember it. I think we tried in rehearsal one time.” (Harvard Independent interview, March 1971)
Weir, 1992: “That was a collaborative effort. I worked on it with Phil and Garcia. The lyric was done by Bobby Peterson – he just handed us a lyric. I needed a song to sing – ‘Weir, take this lyric. We’re going to make a song, and you’re going to sing it.’ We hammered on it for a couple of days and came up with it. We ought to work it up again. In fact, I think we actually are going to work it up again for spring. That's one of the ones on the bill. It's precise; it's heavily arranged. And in general the precise, heavily arranged stuff has sort of tended to dry up and blow away in our repertoire. But this one I think we'll be able to loosen up somehow and make it a little more playable, leave a little more room in it. We have more facility as players... Back then we could barely play it. Now we can probably play it with relative facility and get around all the corners and still find room for a little freedom for extemporaneous expression.” (1992 Golden Road)
DUPREE’S DIAMOND BLUES - 7/11/69
Played since 1/24/69.
Garcia, 1971: “‘Dupree’ is one of my favorite recorded ones – it reminds me of a little cartoon strip, with cartoon characters.” (Signpost to New Space)
MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON - 7/12/69
Played since 12/20/68.
Garcia, 1971: “‘Mountains of the Moon’ is really a lovely tune. It’s still one of my favorites of the ones I’ve ever written. I thought it came off like a little gem.” (Signpost to New Space)
Garcia, 1991: “That song turned out nicely. I had an acoustic setting in mind from the get-go and it turned out pretty much how I envisioned it. I don’t know what made me think I could do a song like that… I like the tune a lot.” (Golden Road, Spring 1991)
DOIN’ THAT RAG - 9/29/69
Played since 1/24/69.
Garcia, 1981: “A lot of tunes on [Aoxomoxoa] are just packed with lyrics or packed with musical changes that aren’t worth it for what happens finally with the song. There isn’t a graceful way to perform them and have them have what they originally had.” (Conversations with the Dead, p.49)
Garcia, 1977: “‘Cosmic Charlie’ is something for which I had a melody and changes, that I wanted to become something… We just finally put something together that was designed to fit into the music. With a song like ‘Doin’ That Rag,’ the lyrics were all there, and I just invented a form to allow [the song] to happen. Both of them are unsuccessful songs. Most of the songs on that record are... We didn’t exactly know what we were doing. Songwriting is a craft that takes a little while to pick up… I realized…through trying to perform, that you can’t fuckin’ sing those tunes. There’s no place to breathe. They’re too rangy. The concentration, the emphasis, linguistically, is funny. People could hear the words, but they could never understand them.” (BAM interview, December 1977)
SLEWFOOT - 12/31/69
Played since 6/11/69.
GREEN GRASS OF HOME - 2/7/70
Played since 5/31/69.
SEASONS OF MY HEART - 2/23/70
Played since 8/2/69.
LITTLE SADIE - 2/28/70
Played since 12/19/69.
Played again on 10/31/80.
MASON’S CHILDREN - 2/28/70
Played since 12/19/69.
Garcia, 1986: “‘Mason’s Children was an almost song. I guess it’s got a famous underground reputation, but really it never quite collected itself into a song. I never was that happy with the lyrics.” (Steve Marcus interview, October 1986)
Lesh, 1997: “The song was a lot of fun, but it wasn’t enough fun for us to keep doing it – I think it sorta got lost in the shuffle.” (AOL GD Forum online chat, June 1997)
Lesh, 1997: “Maybe we just decided we didn’t dig it all that much at the time (maybe we never performed it that well, either).” (Fallout from the Phil Zone)
DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY - 3/21/70
Played since 1/8/66.
HE WAS A FRIEND OF MINE - 3/21/70
Played since 7/3/66. No known performances between “5/5/67” & 12/7/68.
THE ELEVEN - 4/24/70
Played since 1/17/68.
Garcia, 1988: “‘The Eleven’ was successful because it had a great groove…but you’re really stuck in that chord pattern – we used to go into E-minor out of that A-D-E [riff], which is like ‘La Bamba.’ ‘The Eleven’ is like ‘La Bamba,’ it really is… ‘La Bamba’ is a trap too, just like ‘The Eleven’ is, because you’re trapped harmonically in this very fast-moving little chord pattern which is tough to play through. It’s tough to play gracefully through except for the most obvious shit, which is what I did on ‘The Eleven.’ When we went into the E-minor [section], then it started to get weird. We used to do these revolving patterns against each other where we would play 11 against 33 – so one part of the band was playing a big thing that revolved in 33 beats, or 66 beats, and the other part of the band would be tying into that 11 figure. That’s what made those things sound like, ‘Whoa, what the hell is going on?’ It was thrilling. But we used to rehearse a lot to get that effect. It sounded like chaos, but it was in reality hard rehearsal.” (Golden Road, Fall 1988)
Lesh, 1990: “It was really too restrictive; and the vocal part, the song part, was dumb. [Garcia said it was a hard tune to play through] because of the three-chord structure. When we put that together with a drone it was much easier. How was it we used to do it – Dark Star/St Stephen/The Eleven/Lovelight? It fit well in there, I guess… It was really designed to be a rhythm trip. It wasn’t designed to be a song. That more or less came later as a way to give it more justification or something to work in a rock ‘n’ roll set. We could’ve used it just as a transition, which is what it was, really.” (Golden Road, Summer 1990)
LONG BLACK LIMOUSINE - 5/15/70
Played since 12/19/69.
Released on Road Trips 3:3.
IT’S A SIN - 6/4/70
First played 5/19/66; Hartbeats version on 10/10/68; the Dead played regularly from 4/5/69 to 8/28/69; then no known performances until 6/4/70.
(An instrumental jam was played on 6/18/74.)
ALL AROUND THIS WORLD - 7/11/70
Played since 12/19/69.
KATIE MAE - 7/12/70
Played since 1/31/70.
HIGH TIME - 7/12/70
Played since 6/21/69.
Garcia, 1971: “The song that I think failed on [Workingman’s Dead] is ‘High Time.’ It’s a beautiful song, but I was just not able to sing it worth a shit. And I really can’t do justice to that kind of song now. I’m not that good of a singer. But I wish someone who could really sing would do one of those songs sometime.” (Signpost to New Space)
Garcia, 1977: “‘High Time’ is a beautiful song, but I don’t think our performance on the record was very good. It’s a better song than we performed it.” (BAM interview, December ‘77)
A VOICE FROM ON HIGH (aka I HEAR A VOICE CALLING) - 8/5/70
Played since 5/15/70.
Also played in the 12/27/70 radio show.
IT’S A MAN’S WORLD - 9/18/70
Played since 4/9/70.
SILVER THREADS & GOLDEN NEEDLES - 9/19/70
First played 5/19/66; revived 4/26/69.
Also played in the 1970 KSAN “Garage Tape” & the 12/27/70 radio show.
Missing from the Archive copies of 9/19/70.
COLD JORDAN - 9/19/70
Played since 5/1/70.
Also played in the 12/27/70 radio show.
SWING LOW SWEET CHARIOT - 9/19/70
Played since 6/4/70.
Also played in the 12/27/70 radio show.
GOOD MORNING LITTLE SCHOOLGIRL - 9/19/70
Played since early 1966.
NEW SPEEDWAY BOOGIE - 9/20/70
Played since 12/20/69.
Garcia, 1971: “‘New Speedway Boogie’ is one of those miracle songs. It’s one of those once-through ones. The words were just so right that it was immediately apparent, just bam! It came out right. Simple and straight-ahead… [But] I think that that song’s an over-reaction, myself. I think that it’s a little bit dire.” (Signpost to New Space)
Garcia, 1977: “Hunter knows my taste, and philosophically, there are certain limbs that I won’t go out on, just because I don’t feel like I can say it with any competence. There is no rule we haven’t broken though. Like, ‘New Speedway Boogie’ is a totally topical song, and that’s never something I’ve been involved in. It’s something I don’t even like.” (BAM interview, December ‘77)
BIG BOY PETE - 9/20/70
First played 11/29/66; dropped after 12/1/66; then played a few times since 9/6/69.
Played again 11/17/78, 11/21/85.
VIOLA LEE BLUES - 10/31/70
Played since January 1966.
Garcia, 1987: “What other ones don’t we do? Oh – ‘Viola Lee Blues’ is another tune where we did it to death. And when we stopped doing it, we stopped doing it because hey, we’re done with it.” (Mary Eisenhart interview, November 1987)
Garcia, 1988: [A song is used up] “when we don’t have any more ideas. When we do it and we have nothing new to say.” (Golden Road, Fall 1988)
HOW LONG BLUES - 11/7/70
Played since 7/12/70.
(The 2/12/89 “How Long Blues” is not the same song.)
OPERATOR - 11/8/70
Played since 8/18/70.
WAKE UP LITTLE SUSIE - 11/8/70
Played since 2/13/70.
ROSALIE MCFALL - 11/8/70
Played since 7/11/70.
TILL THE MORNING COMES - 12/26/70
Played since 9/18/70.
DEEP ELEM BLUES - 12/28/70
First played 12/1/66; revived 3/20/70.
(Had been played by Garcia in 1962-63.)
Rehearsed 9/30/71 & played 11/17/78, then revived 10/4/80.
MONKEY & THE ENGINEER - 12/31/70
Played since 12/19/69.
(Had been played by Mother McCree’s in 1964.)
COSMIC CHARLIE - 1/21/71
First played 10/8/68 (in the Hartbeats); played by the Dead since 1/17/69.
Garcia, 1981: “‘Cosmic Charlie’ was really a recording song, and even when we did perform it, it always had its weaknesses. The weaknesses were part of what’s musically clever about the songs [on Aoxomoxoa], but part of what’s cumbersome about performing them. ‘Cosmic Charlie’ has some really complex chord voicings in the bridges. Being able to pull off the changes and do the vocals – last time we worked it out was with Donna [in 1976], and it was pretty effective, sort of. But we still had a hell of a time getting through those bridges, and the fact that it didn’t stick as a piece of material tells something about what was flawed about the construction. It’s not quite performable… Those were the first songs me and Hunter did together, and we didn’t have the craft of songwriting down. We did things that in retrospect turned out to be unwise… Songs like ‘Cosmic Charlie,’ there’s technically too much happening there for me to be able to come up with a comfortable version of it that I can sing and play on stage. I never would have thought about that when I started writing songs. I didn’t realize that you had to think about that stuff…” (Conversations with the Dead, p.49)
Garcia, 1986: “We’ve already brought it back once. It didn’t work out too well. We brought it back once when Keith & Donna were in the band, and we actually worked it out with harmony – three-part harmony all the way through – and it sounded pretty neat. But the thing is that the regular groove part of ‘Cosmic Charlie’ is OK, it works, but Hunter and I were inexperienced songwriters when we wrote the song, so the song has some problematic… It doesn’t have any room to breathe, for one thing, and the other thing is it has these intense little bridges. There are two little melodic bridges in the chorus of the song that have words and everything, and they’re harmonically really complicated. They’re not easy, so trying to sing that song and actually play it at the same time is almost impossible. Now all I can say is we did bring it back, but it didn’t work, it wasn’t successful. The record…has a certain bigness to it, a kind of funky grandeur that we haven’t been able to capture really in a concert yet. Someday we might pull it off, but really it’s awful wordy.” (Steve Marcus interview, October 1986)
Garcia, 1987: “I’ve always liked ‘Cosmic Charlie,’ but it’s just really a little too difficult. If I could figure out a way to either just sing it or just play it – but playing it and singing it is a bitch.” (Mary Eisenhart interview, November 1987)
Steve Marcus: "There is a very determined Deadhead who for years has been running a ‘Cosmic Charlie’ campaign. He has collected thousands of signatures on petitions and has encouraged thousands of Deadheads to send you postcards."
Eisenhart: “The Cosmic Charlie Campaign will beg in vain.”
EASY WIND - 4/4/71
Played since 8/21/69.
Lesh, 1997: “One of Pigpen’s best tunes – the contrast between the straight-ahead boogaloo rhythm and a slow blues triplet groove made it really expressive, as did the lyrics.” (Fallout from the Phil Zone)
Weir, 1993: “‘Easy Wind’ was one of our coolest tunes. We didn’t play it that much, but I always liked it.”
Garcia, 1993: “Pigpen didn’t write it, but he contributed a lot to the way it works, the way it feels. He understood how it was supposed to be. It wouldn’t have worked unless he did it.” (1993 Golden Road)
KING BEE – 4/28/71
Played since May 1965; first tape 1/8/66; known performances stop after 4/9/67; revived 2/11/69.
Pigpen also sings a verse in the 12/15/71 Lovelight (along with I’m A Man).
SECOND THAT EMOTION - 4/29/71
Played since 4/8/71.
RIPPLE - 4/29/71
Played since 8/18/70.
Rehearsed 10/1/71; revived 9/25/80.
DARK HOLLOW - 4/29/71
Played since 2/14/70.
Played 11/17/78, then revived 9/25/80.
NEW MINGLEWOOD BLUES - 4/29/71
Played since 5/19/66; dropped after 12/1/66; played a couple times in ’69 (4/26 & 8/20/69); revived 5/15/70.
(Had been played by Mother McCree’s in 1964, but not recorded.)
ALLIGATOR - 4/29/71
Played since 6/18/67.
Lesh, 3/28/72: “Hey, for all you Alligator fans out there...we understand there's a lot of Alligator fans out there, but we done forgot it, see. And so we're gonna have to remember it sometime later, you know.”
Weir, 7/18/72: “Alligator? Did you say Alligator?” …
Lesh: “We don’t do that tune no more, man. It done faded away in the mists of time… As you all might have figured out by now, we can’t do any Pigpen songs because Pigpen ain’t here.”
Garcia, 1986: “No, I don’t think we could do that.” (Steve Marcus interview, October 1986)
MIDNIGHT HOUR - 4/29/71
Played since 1965. A rare song on tape until late ’69.
THE RUB (AIN’T IT CRAZY) - 7/2/71
Played since 4/18/70.
(Had been played by Mother McCree’s in 1964.)
EMPTY PAGES - 8/26/71
Played since 8/24/71. (Only played twice.)
HARD TO HANDLE - 8/26/71
Played since 3/15/69.
ST. STEPHEN - 10/31/71
Played since 6/14/68.
Not on the Archive; available on Dick’s Picks 2.
Previous performance: https://archive.org/details/gd71-10-24.sbd.clugston.3292.sbeok.shnf
Weir, 5/7/72: “If it’d set any minds at ease, we done forgot ‘St. Stephen.’ I mean we forgot it. We can’t play it anymore. We don’t know how. Water under the bridge. We may someday try to reconstruct it. You know, listen to the record and cop our licks.”
Lesh, 3/21/73: “For all you ‘St. Stephen’ fans, we don’t do that song anymore.”
Weir: “The bitter truth. We had to quit doing it ‘cause you liked it too much.”
Garcia, 1987: “People ask us, ‘Why don’t you do ‘St. Stephen’ anymore? The truth is that we did it to death when we did do it – when we did it, we did it. In fact, we had two periods of time when we did it – we rearranged it later for three voices, with Donna. And we did it, and the people who missed it, that’s too bad, you know? We may never do it again. It’s one of those things that doesn’t perform that well – we were able to make it work then because we had the power of conviction. But I don’t think that our present sensibilities would let us do it the way it was, anyay. We would have to change it some.” (Mary Eisenhart interview, November 1987)
Garcia, 1988: “When we stopped doing ‘St. Stephen’ we stopped doing it – we used it up… ‘St. Stephen’ has some real goofy shit in it. It’s got little idiosyncrasies and verses that are different from each other, and if you don’t remember every bit of it – it’s a piece of material that is unnecessarily difficult. It’s been made tricky. It’s got a bridge in the middle that doesn’t really fit in. It’s interesting…because it has a couple of things that work real good. But finally, the stuff that doesn’t work overpowers the stuff that does work; and the reason it does is just the thing of memory: ‘Let’s see, what verse is this?’ They’re not interchangeable; you have to do them in order. So in that sense, a song like ‘St. Stephen’ is a cop. It’s our musical policeman: if we don’t do it the way it wants to go, it doesn’t work at all. That means it’s inflexible.” (Golden Road, Fall 1988)
Lesh, 2005: “Jerry was never happy with the fact that the bridge had to be played and sung in a slower tempo than the rest of the song; he felt that it lost momentum.” (Searching for the Sound, p.137)
RUN RUDOLPH RUN - 12/15/71
Played since 12/4/71.
DANCING IN THE STREET - 12/31/71
Played since 7/3/66; dropped after 3/30/68; revived from 6/8/69 to 12/22/70; then played once in 1971.
THE SAME THING - 12/31/71
First played 11/19/66; not played since 3/18/67. (Only four known performances.)
SMOKESTACK LIGHTNING - 3/25/72
Played since 11/19/66. A rare song until late ’69; dropped after 2/19/71; revived 12/2/71.
Teased 4/9/83, revived 10/9/84.
Released on Dick’s Picks 30.
CAUTION - 5/11/72
Played since 11/3/65; possibly not played in mid/late ’66.
Played as a jam 9/18/74 & 10/19/74.
Also jammed occasionally in later years – 10/27/79, 5/12/80, 5/6/81.
TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT - 5/24/72
Played since 7/23/67.
Released on Rockin’ the Rhein & 5/24/72 CD. Missing from Archive copies.
Garcia, 1993: “‘Lovelight’ will always be Pigpen’s tune. That’s sort of like our tribute to him; we’re calling him back a little when we play that.”
Weir, 1993: “After a number of years it finally occurred to me that doing a Pigpen tune here and there was a fitting tribute… At first, nobody wanted to touch any of those songs, but then we started looking at it differently. They’re all good songs. Every time we play ‘Lovelight’ I think of him – every time.” (1993 Golden Road)
IT HURTS ME TOO - 5/24/72
Played since 5/19/66. This song apparently went on hiatus several times, which may just be due to lost shows: dropped after 3/16/68; revived 12/7-12/21/68; revived again from 4/15-5/31/69; then again from 10/31/69 - 2/8/70; played regularly from 10/11/70 onwards.
BIG BOSS MAN - 5/25/72
Played since 7/3/66; dropped after 9/3/67; revived from 6/27/69 to 3/21/70; revived again 10/31/70.
SITTIN’ ON TOP OF THE WORLD - 5/25/72
Played since 5/19/66; no known performances from 7/16/66 until 3/29/68, then dropped again; revived from 4/11/69 to 11/5/70; revived again 10/21/71.
Missing from Archive copies of 5/25/72; on official CD.
MR. CHARLIE - 5/26/72
Played since 7/31/71.
Garcia, 1993: “I thought ‘Mr Charlie’ was a great tune. I’m sorry we never got a chance to do that one in the studio.” (1993 Golden Road)
NEXT TIME YOU SEE ME - 5/26/72
Played since 3/12/66; dropped after 3/18/67; revived 9/27/69.
CHINATOWN SHUFFLE - 5/26/72
Played since 12/31/71.
THE STRANGER (TWO SOULS IN COMMUNION) - 5/26/72
Played since 3/21/72.
CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT - 9/23/72
Played since 10/22/67; dropped after 12/14/71, and played only once in 1972.
Cryptical Reprise last played 11/12/71:
Garcia: “It wasn’t happening for me, emotionally. Certain songs stop being viable because they are not graceful enough to keep performing in a natural way.” (Peters, What A Long Strange Trip, p.28)
YOU WIN AGAIN - 9/26/72
Played since 11/14/71.
COMES A TIME - 10/19/72
Played since 10/19/71.
ROCKIN’ PNEUMONIA - 10/23/72
Played since 5/23/72. (Only played four times.)
ATTICS OF MY LIFE - 10/28/72
Played since 5/14/70; dropped after 12/27/70; rehearsed 9/31/71; revived 9/27/72 and only played once more.
Soundchecked 2/22/74; rehearsed 5/28/76; then revived 10/9/89.
Garcia, 1988: “It’s a great song. I want to bring that song back. We could do it.” (Golden Road, Fall 1988)
WAVE THAT FLAG – 6/10/73
Played since 2/9/73.
Reappeared as U.S. Blues 2/22/74.
BOX OF RAIN - 7/28/73
First played 9/17/70; revived 10/9/72.
Lesh, 1981: “I never did that much lead singing, ‘cause I never felt comfortable with it, especially live. For some people it’s easy, but for me to play the bass and sing – almost impossible.” (Comstock Lode, Autumn 1981)
BIRD SONG - 9/15/73
Rehearsed 12/15/70 (with David Crosby); first played 2/19/71; dropped after 8/23/71; rehearsed 9/29/71; revived 7/18/72.
LET ME SING YOUR BLUES AWAY - 9/21/73
Played since 9/8/73.
SING ME BACK HOME - 9/26/73
Played since 4/5/71.
YOU AIN’T WOMAN ENOUGH - 10/21/73
Played since 2/15/73.
LOOKS LIKE RAIN - 12/18/73
Played since 3/21/72; dropped after 7/16/72; revived 2/9/73.
Garcia, 1988: “‘Looks Like Rain’ is a nice tune to play.” (Golden Road, Fall 1988)
THEY LOVE EACH OTHER - 2/22/74
Played since 2/9/73.
HERE COMES SUNSHINE - 2/23/74
Played since 2/9/73.
Garcia, 1986: “I could imagine a situation in which we would do that song [again]. We never did perform it – I mean, we performed it maybe twice, three times, something like that… We never played it to the point where it became one of our songs. It’s a formula song; it’s an easy song to pull off. It might be a good song to do sometime, but I still think in terms of the songs that we do [now], of straightening them out…getting them right.” (Steve Marcus interview, October 1986)
IT’S ALL OVER NOW, BABY BLUE - 2/24/74
Played since 1/7/66; first tape 5/19/66; dropped after 12/66; revived from 4/6/69 to 11/8/70; revived again 9/23-9/26/72; then played once more in 1974.
Released on Dave’s Picks 13.
CANDYMAN - 2/24/74
Played since 4/3/70; dropped after 2/18/71; played 10/24/71; then revived from 10/28/72 to 3/30/73; revived again 12/8/73.
MONEY MONEY - 5/21/74
Played since 5/17/74. (Only played three times.)
Weir, 1977: “A couple of the people in the band didn’t like the little story, which, though tongue-in-cheek, was maybe a little too…I don’t know… A couple of folks in the band didn’t think it was as funny as I did. Didn’t think it was all that funny at all, so we just put that one away.” (Conversations with the Dead p.14)
RARELY PLAYED COVERS
These are covers that were only played two or three times that we know of by the early Dead. Since they were so infrequently played and not part of the regular repertoire, I put them in a separate list.
HEY JUDE - 3/1/69
Played before on 2/11/69.
Revived (as a reprise) 9/7/85.
HI-HEEL SNEAKERS - 8/28/69
Played before on 11/19/66 & 8/3/69.
OLD, OLD HOUSE (aka BOUND IN MEMORIES) - 1/31/70
Played before on 6/2/69.
SAWMILL - 4/19/70
Played before on 1/31/70 & 2/7/70.
(Weir played it with the New Riders for the rest of 1970.)
LET ME IN - 6/24/70
Played before on 7/4/69.
(Also played in the 1970 KSAN “Garage Tape” & the 11/21/70 radio show.)
SHE’S MINE - 7/12/70
Played before on 4/19/70 & 5/15/70.
BRING ME MY SHOTGUN - 7/12/70
Played before on 4/18/70.
BALLAD OF CASEY JONES - 8/5/70
Played before on 5/15/70.
TELL IT TO ME (aka COCAINE BLUES) - 8/19/70
Played before on 7/12/70 & 8/5/70.
(This is a different song from Mother McCree’s ‘Cocaine Habit Blues,’ aka ‘Honey Take a Whiff on Me.’)
NEW ORLEANS - 11/8/70
Played before on 8/29/69 & 6/6/70.
Played again 6/21/84.
WALKIN’ THE DOG - 11/9/70
Played before on 3/21/70.
(Had been played in early 1966.)
IT’S ALL OVER NOW - 11/20/70
Played before on 9/6/69.
I’M A HOG FOR YOU BABY - 4/6/71
Played before on 1/8/66 & 3/25/66.
Released on the Skull & Roses CD reissue.
SEARCHIN’ - 4/27/71 (with the Beach Boys)
Played before on 8/29/69 & 11/8/70.
HEY BO DIDDLEY - 8/22/72
Played before on 5/23/72 & 7/16/72.
(Not quite the same song as the 3/25/72 “Bo Diddley.”)
Played again on 2/11/86.
FROZEN LOGGER - 8/25/72
Played several times since 5/7/70, but always as a tease, never a full song.
Played again on 9/7/85.
BACK FROM HIATUS
These are songs that were still being played in 1974 (and afterwards), but had been dropped for various lengths of time in earlier years. Arranged by date of last revival.
CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER – Played since 1/17/68; not played from 3/30/68 to 4/5/69.
Garcia, 1977: “Most of the songs on [Aoxomoxoa] are unsuccessful. ‘China Cat Sunflower’ is another of ‘em. ‘China Cat’ is as [Hunter] wrote it, unchanged by me.” (BAM interview, December 1977)
Garcia, 1981: “A lot of those Aoxomoxoa songs are cumbersome to perform, overwritten. ‘China Cat Sunflower’ is marginal.” (Conversations with the Dead, p.49)
BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE – Played since January 1966; not played from 3/30/68 to 4/6/69.
(Had been played by Mother McCree’s in 1964.)
ME & MY UNCLE – Played since 11/29/66; not played from 3/18/67 to 4/27/69.
I KNOW YOU RIDER – Played since May 1965; not played from 12/66 to 9/30/69.
NOT FADE AWAY – Played in early 1966; revived 2/19/69, and played regularly since 12/21/69.
BIG RAILROAD BLUES – Played in early 1966; revived 6/24/70.
(Probably played by Mother McCree’s in 1964; Garcia also sings on 9/7/69. Only played twice in 1974.)
JOHNNY B. GOODE – Played in 1965; revived 1/22/71.
(Garcia & Weir also guested on a couple Hot Tuna performances, 9/7/69 & 12/31/70.)
Garcia, 1971: “That song for that year had been feeling good for us to play it. We have a lot of respect for Chuck Berry.” (Signpost to New Space)
PROMISED LAND – Played in early 1966; revived 5/29/71.
BROKEDOWN PALACE – Played from 8/18/70 to 1/22/71; revived 8/6/71.
GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD– Played from 2/18/71 to 4/29/71; revived 3/5/72.
DON’T EASE ME IN – First played 7/16/66; revived 3/20/70 and played until 11/29/70; revived again 9/16/72.
(Only played twice in 1974, last time 8/6/74.)
Q: [Why did you] choose to re-record ‘Don’t Ease Me In’ on Go To Heaven after all that time?
Garcia: …Just for fun. It’s a good old song. It just came up again. With us it’s like, ‘Remember how we used to do…?’ (Weir: ‘Little Red Rooster.’) Or ‘Satisfaction’… We hadn’t rehearsed it or anything; it’s just one of those things which came up. (Swing 51 interview, 1982)
NOBODY’S FAULT BUT MINE - First played 7/17/66; appeared as a jam within New Speedway Boogie from 5/14/70 to 7/4/70; revived 10/2/72 as part of the post-Truckin’ jam. Last played 7/29/74.
Would reappear occasionally in later years, starting 10/12/77.
THE RACE IS ON – First played 6/11/69; the Dead played a few times from 12/31/69 to 5/1/70; afterwards Weir played with NRPS in 1970; revived by the Dead 3/19/73.
DIRE WOLF – Played from 6/7/69 to 4/27/71; revived from 4/16/72 to 10/19/72; revived again 11/20/73.
TO LAY ME DOWN – Played from 7/30/70 to 9/20/70; revived from 11/9/73 to 11/20/73; revived again 6/20/74.
BLACK PETER – Played since 12/4/69, but became infrequent in early ’71 and early ’72; dropped after 10/17/72; revived from 6/22/73 to 9/21/73; then revived again 6/23/74.
(Played three times in 1974.)
Garcia, 1977: “I think ‘Black Peter’ is a beautiful song. It has beautiful lyrics.” (BAM interview, December 1977)
These are songs that had been dropped from the repertoire, but the Dead broke out in their final 1974 shows.
FRIEND OF THE DEVIL – Played from 3/20/70 to 4/25/71; revived 8/20/72; played frequently in summer/fall ’72 up to 12/11/72; revived again 9/18/74.
MAMA TRIED – Played from 6/11/69 to 8/7/71; revived 10/19/74.
TOMORROW IS FOREVER – Played from 9/24/72 to 12/11/72; revived 10/19/74.
Not played again.
COLD RAIN AND SNOW – Played from 3/12/66 to 10/22/67; revived 5/31/69; played only three times in 1973 up to 12/2/73; revived 10/20/74.
Weir, 1971: “Every now and then when we get together in rehearsal we try doing old tunes that we haven’t done in years – see how much of them we remember, and if we remember enough sometimes we’ll do them in live performance. ‘Cold Rain’ came back like that last year, and a couple of others.” (Harvard Independent interview, March 1971)
GOOD LOVIN’ – First played 5/19/66; revived 8/29/69; last played with Pigpen 5/25/72; revived again 10/20/74 (the first of Pigpen’s songs to be revived).
WE BID YOU GOODNIGHT – Played from 3/16/68 to 9/20/70, then twice in 1971; revived 2/28/73 for a few performances up to 2/23/74; revived 10/20/74.
PLAYED ONCE (UP TO 1974)
DEATH LETTER BLUES - 10/30/68 (Hartbeats)
ROSEMARY - 12/7/68
WHAT’S BECOME OF THE BABY - 4/26/69
Garcia on ‘What’s Become of the Baby,’ 1991: “I was never quite satisfied with it… It’s too bad, because it’s an incredible lyric and I feel I threw the song away somewhat. (Hunter: We feel perhaps it sunk the album!) I think, ‘Why the fuck did everybody let me do that?’” (Golden Road, Spring 1991)
GATHERING FLOWERS FOR THE MASTER’S BOUQUET - 12/26/69
SO SAD TO WATCH GOOD LOVE GO BAD - 7/11/70 https://archive.org/details/gd1970-07-12.aud.composite.130938.flac16 (matrix)
DRINK UP AND GO HOME - 8/5/70
MYSTERY TRAIN - 11/8/70
MY BABE - 11/8/70
LA BAMBA - 11/11/70 (A short tease. Played again a few times in 1987.)
OH BOY - 4/6/71 (Played a few more times in later years.)
HIDEAWAY - 11/7/71 (Played again on 6/21/89.)
I WASHED MY HANDS IN MUDDY WATER - 12/5/71
ARE YOU LONELY FOR ME BABY - 3/25/72
HOW SWEET IT IS (TO BE LOVED BY YOU) - 3/25/72
https://archive.org/details/gd1972-03-25.133592.sbd.miller.flac1644 (also on Dick’s Picks 30)
IT TAKES A LOT TO LAUGH - 6/10/73 (Played a few more times in 1991.)
THAT’S ALL RIGHT MAMA - 6/10/73 (Played again on 4/18/86.)
CASSIDY - 3/23/74 (Revived 6/3/76.)
https://archive.org/details/gd1974-03-23.sbd.clugston-orf.1995.sbeok.shnf (also on Dick’s Picks 24)
LET IT ROCK - 6/23/74
https://archive.org/details/gd74-06-23.sbd.cribbs.16780.sbeok.shnf (also on Mars Hotel CD reissue)
A number of songs were played for the only time in the lost 6/11/69 show: LET IT BE ME, ALL I HAVE TO DO IS DREAM, I’VE JUST SEEN A FACE, GAMES PEOPLE PLAY, TIGER BY THE TAIL, WABASH CANNONBALL, and RAILROADING ON THE GREAT DIVIDE.
CATHY’S CLOWN is known to have been played twice by the Dead (6/11/69 and 4/17/70), but both shows are lost.
A few songs were also played solo by Pigpen for the only time in the Family Dog shows on 4/18-19/70: ROBERTA, THE MIGHTY FLOOD, BLACK SNAKE, and “BIG BREASA” (almost certainly a mistaken title for a blues cover, probably either a Lightnin’ Hopkins or a John Lee Hooker song).
PRIDE OF CUCAMONGA and UNBROKEN CHAIN were the only songs on the Dead’s Warners albums that were never played live (at least until Unbroken Chain was broken out in 1995).
Lesh, 1979: “I’m kind of bored with trying to write for the Grateful Dead, because I tend to write some pretty dense shit, and it’s almost antithetical to rock ‘n’ roll skill. It’s hard to get them to play it. That period around Live/Dead when the music was a little more complex – that was the peak for me. Now we’ve gotten into a format.” (Charlie Haas, “Still Grateful After All These Years,” New West, December ’79)
Lesh: “I gave up songwriting after Mars Hotel because the results were disappointing. ‘Unbroken Chain’ could have really been something. Some people think it really is, but I wanted it to be what I wanted it to be… It just didn’t happen, so I decided to concentrate on playing the bass as best I can.” (Peters, What A Long Strange Trip, p.138)
Lesh, 1990: “I’ve had a lot of requests to bring ‘Unbroken Chain’ back… I’d have to completely relearn it. I’d have to learn the guitar part over again so I could teach it to Bob. I’d have to relearn the words. I’d have to figure a way to sing it and play bass at the same time. It’s fairly complicated. I wrote it on guitar and could play and sing it all the way through as a performance. It was meant to be performed, but there were so many changes in it, it proved to be very difficult. We had a lot of trouble even recording it. By the end of it I was in that brutal state of mind where I said, ‘Fuck this,’ and dropped it. It was too embarrassing to try to perform it live because it just fell apart. But we’ll get it better this time.” (Golden Road, Summer 1990)
Lesh on ‘Pride of Cucamonga,’ 1997: “I really love that song. It’s one of my all-time favorite Petersen lyrics.” (AOL GD Forum online chat, June 1997)
These are a few of the songs that were not part of the Dead’s repertoire, but only played with guests in the early years.
CHECKIN’ UP ON MY BABY 6/6/69 (Wayne Ceballos)
THINGS I USED TO DO & WHO’S LOVING YOU TONIGHT 6/8/69 (Elvin Bishop)
BLACK QUEEN 12/10/69 (Steve Stills)
‘IMPROMPTU BLUES’ (WAKE ME SHAKE ME) 3/8/70 (guest singer)
‘COWBOY SONG’ 4/9/70 (guest singer)
MOUNTAIN JAM 7/28/73 (Allman Brothers & The Band)
A couple of guest songs were also played during the October 1968 Hartbeats shows: PRISONER BLUES (a couple times with Elvin Bishop) and LOOK OVER YONDERS WALL (with an unknown harmonica player, just as in the 12/1/66 Matrix show).
A number of ‘50s rock & roll songs were played in the 9/7/69 Family Dog quasi-Hot Tuna show. It’s doubtful whether these should be included in a Dead listing – other than Garcia and a drummer or two, I don’t think any other Dead members are on this tape.
Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady guested on 11/11/70 and 11/20/70, which included JOHN’S OTHER, UNCLE SAM BLUES, ODE FOR BILLY DEAN, and COME BACK BABY on 11/11 (with Papa John Creach), and IT’S ALL OVER NOW and DARLING COREY on 11/20.
Some songs were played with the Beach Boys on 4/27/71: SEARCHIN’, RIOT IN CELL BLOCK #9, HELP ME RHONDA, and OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE.
Also, a number of Bo Diddley's songs were played with him on 3/25/72..
Garcia plays on several of the Band’s songs in the 7/28/73 encore, but the rest of the Dead don’t seem to be involved.
For links & more details, see:
These are some of the most significant instrumental themes that were dropped by 1974.
THE SEVEN 10/8/68 – 3/21/70
THE MAIN TEN 2/19/69 – 11/8/70 (Adopted into Playing in the Band in ‘71.)
FEEDBACK 8/4/67 – 3/18/71
DARKNESS, DARKNESS JAM 5/7/70 – 7/31/71
TIGHTEN UP JAM 10/25/69 - 10/31/71
PHILO STOMP 10/18/72 – 11/13/72 (Also quoted in later bass solos through ‘73.)
Of these, probably only Feedback and The Main Ten were considered actual “compositions” by the Dead – that is, they were given titles on albums.
Lesh, 1974: “[Feedback] originally was my idea. Because there we were with all those electronic instruments, and it was starting to be obvious to me that it could be used for that... Even though you can’t control them too well, they more or less end up being pretty tonal, tonal in a sense that the sounds that usually come out tend to have the harmonic structure of tonal notes. When that got started, we only did that for a little while, it was for only about two years that we did that; and now when we do it, it just doesn’t sound right because people are on the wah-wah pedals. Weir actually was one of the masters of that stuff, but he doesn’t do it anymore at all. I can’t imagine why, ‘cause he would just come out with this incredible stuff and it was absolutely off the top of his head, totally. That’s why it amazes me that he doesn’t explore that. Maybe he just thinks that it’s too complicated or whatever, which it isn’t.” (Andy Childs interview, ZigZag, September 1974)
Lesh, 1981: [talking about the 2/14/68 ‘Spanish Jam’] “I wish we still played like that. That was our Sketches of Spain take, it was part of our act at the time… We’ve become quite proficient at pulling out imitations of that style. But as that time fades into antiquity, there are nights when I feel like a parody of myself… I find that when we do the feedback stuff I have less and less to play. I have less and less ideas, not a lack of ideas per se, just that they don’t seem to relate the same way that they did in the past. To me it’s getting to be a mistake to do that every night. Back in ’68 we did it every night because that’s what we did, by God.” (Comstock Lode, Autumn 1981)
Weir, 1977: “We have a book of all the songs that we’ve done, or at least an honest attempt at collecting them. Every now and then, we’ll just look through the book and say, ‘There’s an old chestnut, why don’t we pull that one back out?’ as opposed to trying to learn something new. It’s often nice to go back and visit with some of those old friends.” (Conversations with the Dead p.9)
Garcia, 1980: “Sometimes we’ve written songs and just completely forgotten about them because they can’t be used. Sometimes we write them and record them and they turn out to be valueless because they can’t be performed. There’s no handle that we can get on them. Then, also, there’s the thing where a song might go into a dormant period, like we’ll record it and maybe forget about it. Then we’ll resurrect it in a few years, and start performing it and find that it has something. So, luckily there’s a lot of material; there’s enough to keep ourselves interested just with the book that we have already. And now everybody is producing new songs.” (Jeff Tamarkin interview, Relix, August 1980)
Garcia, 1977: I can’t sing the song unless it resonates for me on some level.
Q: Which [songs] have the strongest resonance?
Garcia: The ones I keep doing, and sometimes they’ll surprise me. Sometimes I’ll dig up something from the past and find out, ‘Far out, this song is much nicer than I thought it was.’ But ideally, the best thing is a kind of nonspecific emotional involvement with it…. I can’t get up and sing something that I don’t feel some sense of relationship to. That’s pretty wide open, but I think the ones that are longest-lived are the ones that are least specific. (BAM interview, December 1977)
Garcia, 1976: “My relationship to them changes. Sometimes I really like a song after I’ve written it and I don’t like it at all a year later. And some of them, I’m sort of indifferent to, but we perform it and find they have a real long life. For me to sing a song, I really have to feel some relationship to it. I can’t just bullshit about it. Otherwise, it’s just empty and it’s no fun. There has to be something about it that I can relate to. Not even in a literal sense or a sense of content, but more a sense of sympathy with the singer of the song. It’s a hard relationship to describe, but some songs have a real long life and you can sing them honestly for a long period of time – years and years – and others last just a while and you don’t feel like you can sing them anymore.” (Steve Weitzman interview, April 1976)
Q: Are there any old Grateful Dead songs that you would like the Dead to start doing again?
Garcia: No… Unless somebody reminds me of something that I haven’t thought of for a long time. Most of the time we do songs to death.
(Steve Marcus interview, October 1986)
Q: Do you have any un-favorites? Songs you would gladly never play again?
Garcia: Oh, I don’t think so. Well, the ones that we don’t play, obviously…
We may bring [‘Dark Star’] back sometime. In fact, I won’t say that we won’t bring back ‘St. Stephen,’ or ‘Cosmic Charlie’ for that matter. But it’s much more interesting to me now to think in terms of well, let’s write new songs. I mean, if I have a choice between resurrecting old tunes and writing new songs, it’s going to be new songs. Because it’s essential that we stay interested. And there’s only so much you can rub up against your own past, and keep loving it. It’s fragile; finally it breaks down. Ultimately you can use it up. So ultimately it’d be great if we could come up with a whole lot of new tunes… Every time we do come up with a few new tunes it enlivens everything else.
(Mary Eisenhart interview, November 1987)