We have something different for this guest post:
“Dr. Beechwood” has created a very nice chart and accompanying essay on the Dead’s original songs, which I would like to share here.
Appended below is also a list compiled by “Vapors” of the various long-unplayed songs (covers and originals) that the Dead revived after Brent joined, which complements the essay well.
I hope these may be of use to followers of the Dead’s ever-changing repertoire!
Note: This is a low-res Thumbnail image - the downloadable full-sized version is at:
THE GRATEFUL DEAD SONG GRAPH
by Dr. Beechwood
The Grateful Dead played hundreds of different songs during their career, but a majority of these were covers. The number of original songs is much less, and some of their originals were only played a few times. This song graph, with songs ordered by the first times played, shows how new songs were added to the repertoire over time.
The majority of the Dead’s original compositions, over 70, were from the Garcia-Hunter team. The next most common songs (about 20) were those by Weir and Barlow. Only two originals were on their first album: Cream Puff War, one of just a few songs with both lyrics and music by Garcia, was played in 8 surviving shows in 1966 and early 1967; and The Golden Road, listed as a group composition, survives in only two known versions in 1967.
Given the incomplete record of the early shows, it is certain that these were played more often; but as no versions are known from 1968 when the tape record is more complete, they were apparently out of the repertoire by then.
The chart starts with the songs that were included on the Dead’s first albums; many songs that the Dead discarded by 1967 have been left off.
Garcia was likely responsible for most of the lyrics on these band-composed songs; lyrically there’s a family resemblance between many songs here. Some of these are “original” only in the most imitative sense (mainly Pigpen’s songs), but others are quite nice mid-‘60s pop songs, and this would make an interesting compilation. By date of first appearance:
Mindbender (Garcia/Lesh) – Nov 65
The Only Time Is Now (GD) – Nov 65
Can’t Come Down (music GD, lyrics Garcia) – Nov 65
Caution (GD/Pigpen) – Nov 65
You Don’t Have To Ask (GD) - early 66
You See A Broken Heart (Pigpen) - early 66
Standing on the Corner (GD) - early 66
Tastebud (Pigpen) - early 66
Cream Puff War (Garcia) – early 66
Cardboard Cowboy (Lesh) - June 66
Keep Rolling By (GD/Pigpen) - July 66
Down So Long (GD) - Nov 66
Alice D Millionaire (GD) - Dec 66
Golden Road (GD) – Jan 67
The band were later embarrassed by these early efforts, one reason all of them (except Caution) quickly disappeared. 1967 was not a prolific year for songwriting.
Once the first album was finished, Lesh wrote New Potato Caboose with his friend Bobby Petersen; the band would play it live from mid-’67 to summer ‘69.
Later that summer and fall, Weir and Kreutzmann worked out The Other One, while Garcia composed Cryptical Envelopment on his own; and the two were joined together. (Later they would be separated again – The Other One was performed steadily through 1995 in at least six hundred performances, while Garcia dropped Cryptical after 1971 except for a brief revival in the summer of ’85.)
And by the end of 1967, Weir had put together the strange and short-lived Born Cross-Eyed, which only appears on our live tapes from January to March ’68. It was to be his last songwriting effort for two years.
But a new voice appeared in mid-1967. Although Robert Hunter is most closely associated with Garcia as a songwriting partner, his inaugural collaboration was Alligator: Hunter mailed the band a verse from New Mexico, and Pigpen wrote a second verse and put together the music with Lesh. The song debuted in June 1967; it was played until late 1970 and had a final performance at the closing of the Fillmore East show on 4/29/71.
Garcia invited Hunter to come stay with the band, and the first song he wrote with Garcia and the rest of the band was Dark Star, in September 1967. This debuted in late ‘67 and was played regularly through 1973. After only six versions in 1974, it was trotted out sporadically with five versions between 12/31/78 and 7/13/84 (my second show). After being revived on 10/9/89, it was played an average of six times per year from 1989 to 1994, and the final version was on 3/30/94 at the Omni in Atlanta.
Early 1968 saw the first flurry of Hunter/Dead compositions, as several collaborations debuted around the same time. China Cat Sunflower, another lyric Hunter had mailed from New Mexico, was transformed into a song by Garcia; it would prove to be one of the longest-lived of these early tunes, being played steadily through 1995 save for a hiatus between 10/20/74 and 2/3/79.
Lesh took the second part of Hunter’s lyrics and arranged The Eleven, which was first joined to China Cat but by mid-’68 became appended to St Stephen, where it stayed until being dropped in mid-1970.
Lesh and Hunter also cowrote the unusual Clementine; sung by Garcia but infrequently played on our 1968 tapes, it would also vanish after January ’69.
Then in spring 1968, Garcia and Lesh arranged St Stephen from Hunter’s lyrics. This would become one of the Dead’s most popular songs, but had a stop-and-start performance history as the Dead became weary of it. It also, for the time being, proved to be the last “band-composed” song for a while; as in mid-’68 Hunter began writing songs with Garcia exclusively, and Lesh (like Weir) became an inactive songwriter for the next couple years.
Robert Hunter was the only lyricist for the band from 1968 until 1972. The Garcia-Hunter collaboration was incredibly prolific with new songs being introduced every year from 1967 to 1979, but the golden age of their partnership would have to be the years 1968 (5 new songs) to 1975 (4 new songs). After the '74-'76 hiatus, their output decreased dramatically with only 23 songs introduced over the next 19 years.
In 1970-71, Hunter wrote several songs with Weir. The Weir-Hunter collaboration was short-lived, but they produced several of the Dead's most frequently played classics, including Playing in the Band with 581 performances, and Sugar Magnolia with 596 renditions. Jack Straw, the last of the early Weir-Hunter compositions, debuted in late 1971 and, after a gap between 10/20/74 and 5/3/77, was played frequently as a first-set tune. Greatest Story Ever Told followed a similar history, with a slightly longer hiatus between ’74 and ’79, but very common thereafter. The regular encore tune One More Saturday Night is credited to Weir only, but Hunter probably came up with the title (Gans interview, 3/2/04). Hunter finally became fed up with Weir rewriting his lyrics (see McNally, p. 393); fortunately John Barlow arrived just then, and started writing songs with Weir in late 1971.
Hunter wrote one song with Keith Godchaux, Let Me Sing Your Blues Away. This had only six performances during the September 1973 shows where they played with the horn section.
Hunter also wrote two songs for Pigpen – Easy Wind in 1969 (which was played from August ’69 to early ‘71), and Mr. Charlie, which he cowrote with Pigpen and the band played from August ’71 to May ’72.
And Hunter wrote another song with Phil Lesh in 1970, Box of Rain, which after one known performance that year (9/17/70), returned in October 1972 and was played 48 times in ’72-73 before a 13-year break. When it came back in early 1986, it was subsequently played over a hundred times, including its final version as the last encore at the last show.
After Hunter arrived, the Dead wrote few songs as a whole band. Mason’s Children, written by Garcia/Lesh/Weir/Hunter, was one attempt that debuted in December ’69, but only made it through February ’70 with 17 performances, and was not released on album.
Their next try was more successful - Truckin' debuted in August '70 and is credited to Garcia, Weir, Lesh, and Hunter, and of course is another frequently played song with 519 performances. The band put this aside after the hiatus that began in October '74, playing it once at the Lindley Meadows 9/28/75 show where Phil instructed the audience on the proper pronunciation ("It's not 'Trucking'. The name of this tune is 'Truckin'."). Then, surprisingly, they didn't play it at all in 1976 or in the first half of 1977. It was resurrected at the 9/3/77 Englishtown Raceway show for the 2nd set finale and remained a show staple until the end.
Slipknot, an instrumental credited to the whole band, was developed in 1974 live jams and found its place as a transition between Help On The Way and Franklin’s Tower in 1975. Played until 10/11/77, the suite was then dropped until 3/25/83 and played for the next couple years, but then dropped again after 9/12/85, until being revived again on 10/8/89; it then stayed in the setlists through 1995, for a total of 110 performances. (Part of the Blues for Allah suite is also credited to the whole band, but it was played only three times live in 1975.)
Bob Weir was never as prolific a songwriter as Garcia. The Weather Report Suite, which debuted in September 1973, was a medley of three parts: an instrumental intro Weir had been toying with for some years, Part One (written with Eric Andersen), and Let It Grow (written with John Barlow). The first part was only played in ’73-74; but Let It Grow was played steadily through 1995 (typically as a first-set closer), save for an odd hiatus in ’78-79.
Songs like Cassidy, The Music Never Stopped, Estimated Prophet and many later Weir tunes became frequent fixtures in Grateful Dead shows – since Weir’s songs were fewer, they were played quite often, while many of Garcia’s songs were more spaced out in the rotation. It was also quite rare for Weir to stop playing his songs, whereas some of Garcia’s songs would often be dropped for long periods.
Phil Lesh’s songs remained infrequent after Box of Rain. Unbroken Chain and Pride of Cucamonga, written with Bobby Petersen for the Mars Hotel album in ‘74, were ignored in live shows (at least until Unbroken Chain belatedly appeared in 1995). His instrumental composed with the drummers, King Solomon’s Marbles, was played only in the four 1975 shows. One of his songs for Terrapin Station, Equinox, met a bitter fate, being left off the album and never played live. Passenger found a better reception, remaining in the setlists from 1977 through 1981. After that, Lesh was not heard from again until the ‘90s, when he offered several new songs that were not well-received.
Mickey Hart also had an interesting role. Several of Weir’s songs were based on Hart’s rhythms – Playing in the Band, Greatest Story, and much later, Corrina in the ‘90s.
Fire on the Mountain is a unique case – written by Hunter and Hart as a rap-style song during Hart’s hiatus in the early ‘70s, an instrumental version appeared as Happiness Is Drumming on Hart’s Diga Rhythm Band album in 1976, and was played once by the Dead on 6/28/76. The song Fire was adopted by Garcia for the band in ’77, immediately attached to Scarlet Begonias, and only rarely played apart from Scarlet thereafter.
The Hart/Kreutzmann team also created the King Solomon’s Marbles instrumental with Lesh in ’75, and part of the Terrapin Station suite in ’77. Bill Kreutzmann rarely received song credits aside from Hart – but he was co-credited for the music on Weir’s Other One, and on The Wheel and Franklin’s Tower with Garcia.
Other members of the Dead also contributed some songs. After a long songwriting drought, Pigpen wrote Operator in 1970, but we have only four known performances that year. His song Empty Pages was even more short-lived, being played only three times in August ’71. Mr Charlie (with Hunter), Chinatown Shuffle, and Two Souls in Communion were more successful, being played steadily until Pigpen’s last shows in May ’72.
Keith’s one song contribution was followed by two songs from Donna, Sunrise in ’77 and From the Heart of Me in ’78. In later years, keyboardists Brent, Bruce and Vince also wrote some songs which will not be considered here.
There were few songs on the Dead’s studio albums that were never played live by the band. The Weir-Hunter-Hart song France, from the Shakedown Street album, is one – another is Lesh’s song Pride of Cucamonga from Mars Hotel. What's Become of the Baby, though technically not played live, was played on the PA at the 4/26/69 show while the Dead added feedback. Rosemary barely squeaked onto our live tapes, being played at one known show on 12/7/68; and the At A Siding section of Terrapin Station was also played just once, as an instrumental on 3/18/77.
A few dates deserve mention for having multiple song debuts at a single show.
8/18/70 was a show with four debuts on tape (Truckin', Operator, Ripple, & Brokedown Palace).
2/18/71 saw the first versions of five new songs (Bertha, Greatest Story, Loser, Playin', & Wharf Rat), and Bird Song and Deal debuted the following night.
On 10/19/71 they introduced SEVEN songs: Tennessee Jed, Jack Straw, Brown-Eyed Women, Mexicali Blues, Comes a Time, One More Saturday Night, & Ramble On Rose.
The record for new originals at a single gig is tied by 2/9/73 at Stanford, also with seven - this time all of them Garcia/Hunter songs: China Doll, Eyes of the World, Here Comes Sunshine, Loose Lucy, Row Jimmy, They Love Each Other, and the early version of U.S. Blues entitled Wave That Flag. What is surprising about this show is how strong these first versions are, particularly the Eyes.
The graph ( http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/60257224 ) shows the years on the x-axis and the songs, in order of first-time played, on the y-axis. The leftmost point for each song indicates the debut date and provides a record of how frequently new songs were introduced into the Dead's repertoire.
As one can see, the period 1968-1975 was the most prolific time in the band's history. Following the '74 hiatus, fewer new songs were introduced each year. Long gaps with no new Garcia/Hunter songs included late '79 (Althea, Alabama Getaway) to late '82 when Day Job, West L.A. Fadeaway, and Touch of Gray were introduced, and then another drought from late '82 to the late '86 shows after Garcia's coma, when they brought out two new Hunter songs, Black Muddy River and When Push Comes to Shove. Four more Garcia/Hunter songs followed in ‘88/89 – Believe It Or Not and Built To Last did not last past March 1990, but Foolish Heart and Standing On The Moon became regulars until the end.
In the last five years, the final new Garcia-Hunter songs were presented: So Many Roads in February ’92 and the last three (Liberty, Lazy River Road, & Days Between) debuted at two shows in March of '93.
This period also saw the first Dead version of the Garcia Band song Reuben and Cherise (originally from the 1978 album Cats Under the Stars), played four times in early '1991.
Another song more closely associated with the Garcia Band, Mission in the Rain, was played by the Dead five times in June of 1976 and then shelved permanently. As Garcia wrote fewer songs in the later years, Weir and Lesh stepped up.
Many of Hunter’s songs with Garcia and Weir were played throughout the Dead's history, but some were played only a few times. These include: Mountains of the Moon, Doin' that Rag, Mason's Children, Till the Morning Comes, Blues for Allah, and If I Had the World to Give.
While the first two songs were played often in early 1969, Mason’s Children lasted only two months (though it was also recorded for the Workingman’s Dead album), and Till the Morning Comes was only played during the fall of 1970. Blues for Allah made it into only three 1975 performances, and likewise If I Had the World to Give was played just three times in 1978.
Other Garcia/Hunter songs were played frequently in the early years and then either more rarely afterwards, or ignored for years before coming back and being played frequently in the '80's and '90's. Dark Star is one classic example.
St Stephen is another: after years of dormancy following the Halloween 1971 show, Stephen was resurrected in 1976-1977, played four times in 1978, once in 1979, and three times in October 1983. It was soundchecked at the 12/8/94 Oakland show but was never played after the fall '83 tour.
Cosmic Charlie and High Time were regulars in 1969-70 but both abandoned by 1971; they were busted out in early 1976 after several years of inactivity, but only High Time stayed in the rotation til 1995, while Cosmic Charlie received just six performances in 1976. (Despite Garcia’s complaints about the song, hopeful fans kept waiting for it to reappear ever after, only to have their hopes dashed on 2/27/94.)
Crazy Fingers was sadly abandoned after 9/30/76, not to return until 7/18/82; after eight performances in ’82-83, it was absent for another year before coming back to the regular rotation on 4/4/85.
New Speedway Boogie had an extremely long period of dormancy, spanning a 20-year period between 9/20/70 and 2/19/91. From then it was played periodically until the end.
Similarly, Attics of My Life wasn't played at all between 10/28/72 and 10/9/89; Loose Lucy was absent between 10/19/74 and 3/14/90; and Bird Song was also neglected between 9/15/73 and 9/25/80.
After the 34 versions of Here Comes Sunshine in '73 and early '74, it rose from the ashes in late 1992. (Cryptical Envelopment is another example, last played on 9/23/72 and briefly revived for five performances in 1985.)
Ripple, dropped after April 1971, came back for the acoustic sets of 1980-81. It wasn’t played again until 9/3/88; rumored to be the result of a Make-a-Wish Foundation request, this was the first electric version played since 4/29/71, and sadly the last.
Even some frequently played songs experienced some periods where the band laid them aside for awhile. 1978 in particular saw a drought in Garcia’s songs, especially the ballads - it's remarkable how many Garcia songs were played only once, or not at all, in 1978, even when they'd been regulars in '77:
Uncle John's Band wasn't played for a couple of years, between 10/6/77 and 12/26/79.
Brokedown Palace (played five times in ’77) was also skipped entirely between 10/14/77 & 12/26/79.
China Cat Sunflower wasn't played after the '74 hiatus until 12/29/77; but despite being dusted off just in time for ‘78, again it missed the whole year until being revived on 2/3/79.
High Time was dropped after three shows in May '77 and not done again until a surprise reappearance in the Godchauxs’ last show, 2/17/79.
China Doll (played only three times in 1977), wasn't played at all in 1978, and was only played once in 1979 (May 8) before its 1980 acoustic-set revival.
Even Might As Well, played five times in ’77, was skipped entirely in 1978 before being played twice in February 1979, then dropped again til August 1981.
Morning Dew, played five times in ’77, was only played once in ‘78 (4/15/78), and not played again til 11/8/79.
Comes a Time, played five times in May ’77, was also only played once (5/16/78), then once more on 2/9/79, before returning to the rotation in May 1980.
The Wheel was also only played once (2/3/78); it didn't appear again until 2/17/79, and then disappeared again until August 1980.
St Stephen also disappeared for most of the year – it was played twice in January 1978, and then on December 30 & 31.
There were a lot of Hunter/Garcia ballads that were not played often, but stayed in the rotation into the 1990s. These rare performances could be the highlight of a show if you were lucky enough to see one.
To Lay Me Down has an interesting history because it was only played four times in 1970, then revived several times: 1973-1974, then 1980-1982, it was played once on 10/17/83, then brought back again in 1988-1990, and it's final version was on 6/28/92.
Comes a Time followed a similar pattern: played often for one year from 1971-72, revived for another year in 1976-77, then revived again for seven performances in 1980, it was finally brought back in 1985 and played until 1987, then played only five times in the 1990s.
China Doll, a very frequent song in 1973-74 and in the 1980 acoustic sets, saw six electric performances in 1980-81 before being laid aside for a year. Though a regular song from 1983-87, it was played rarely in the late '80s and early '90s, only about 4-6 shows per year. Only one in 1988 and one in 1994.
Some other mostly "first-set" Hunter/Garcia songs that became rare in the late ‘80s include They Love Each Other, which was only played 1-3 times in each of the years from ’86-’89 and '92-'94, and never in 1995.
It Must Have Been The Roses, while always in the repertoire save for Brent’s first year in 1979-80, was played only 1-5 times a year each year from 1983-1995 (except for a little burst in ’87).
Dupree's Diamond Blues was played throughout the first half of 1969, then revived for six performances in 1977-1978, many more in 1982-1988, then played only once in 1989, once in 1990, and a final version on 10/13/94.
Casey Jones was absent between 10/17/74 and 10/2/77, and after a few years was dropped again in 1982 – save for two performances in 1984, it wasn’t played after ’82 until 6/20/92, and was brought out four times in the next year, the last time on 3/27/93.
Might as Well was played frequently in the ‘80s up to mid-'86, four times in 1987, twice in 1988, then not again until the 6 times in 1991 and a final version on 3/23/94.
Alabama Getaway was played steadily from 1979-1989 and then vanished until it was broken out for four times in 1995.
(Stagger Lee is a rare reversal of this trend – while quite common in the last ten years, it was not played at all from 1980-1984 except for two performances in ’82.)
Black Muddy River was played from 1986-1990, then dropped in 1991 until 1995, when it was revived in the Dead’s last month and played three times, including as the first encore at the final show. When Push Comes to Shove was only played from 1986-1989. Built to Last was only played from 1988-1990 (all but two times in 1989). Believe it or Not was played only six times in 1988 and once in 1990. (And Day Job was, of course, banished from live shows after 1986 by the fans’ request.) It is interesting to see how many songs were dropped from the repertoire or played more rarely after Brent died.
While many of Garcia’s songs became uncommon, Weir had fewer songs to choose from and often played them to death. So Weir's songs tended to stay in the rotation, but there were a few exceptions.
Black Throated Wind departed the stage between 10/19/74 and 3/16/90. My Brother Esau was frequent from 1983-87, but then disappeared. The last Lazy Lightning was on 10/31/84, and the last Lost Sailor was on 3/24/86. The songs usually paired with these, Supplication and Saint of Circumstance, continued to be played until the end, though Supplication was usually just a jam, and was only played four times in the 1990s after the 4/13/86 show.
Money Money only lasted three performances in 1974. The instrumental Sage and Spirit was played only twice, on 8/13/75 and 10/31/80; and the instrumental Heaven Help The Fool was played only during the 1980 acoustic shows.
Finally, there were a few old songs that didn't debut until the '90s. These include Reuben and Cherise, played by the Jerry Garcia Band starting in 1977 but played by the Dead four times in 1991; Salt Lake City, a Weir/Barlow tune soundchecked once in 1978 and played once in Salt Lake City (of course) on 2/21/95; and Unbroken Chain, written in 1974 for Mars Hotel and not played live until 1995. It has the distinction of being the last of the Dead’s songs to be debuted live.
Although the graph omits the earliest Dead originals and the Brent and Vince songs, it provides an interesting glimpse into the song production and song selections throughout the history of the Grateful Dead.
Graph was created using an Excel X-Y chart. The x-value is the date of the show, and the y-value is a number assigned to each song in order of debut (e.g., Jack Straw is the 50th original song they debuted). Graph was imported into Adobe Illustrator for formatting and saved as a PDF.
Sources include: deadbase.com, deadlists.com, and "A Box of Rain: The Collected Lyrics of Robert Hunter.”
Thanks to the Grateful Dead Guide for an opportunity to share this with you.
[The graph is easier to download from this page, though you’ll have to either log in through facebook or sign up at scribd.com to download.]
Jeff A. aka "Dr. Beechwood"
spinifex67 AT yahoo DOT com
Here are a couple extra notes on performance patterns:
Just as most of the Aoxomoxoa songs were quickly superseded by newer material in 1969, it’s surprising how many Garcia/Hunter “classics” from 1970 were little-played by the Dead once more new songs started coming in 1971:
High Time – dropped after 7/12/70, not heard again until 1976.
Friend of the Devil - played only once in ’71 (4/25/71), didn’t return til 8/20/72; then skipped between 12/11/72 and 9/18/74.
Dire Wolf - only played twice in April ’71, then not again til the Europe ’72 tour.
Candyman - only played twice in ‘71 (2/18 and 10/24/71), then not again til 10/28/72.
To Lay Me Down – after a few performances in 1970, not played again til 11/9/73.
Ripple - also dropped after 4/29/71 (though they rehearsed it with Keith on 10/1/71).
Attics of My Life – not played after 12/27/70; rehearsed with Keith on 9/30/71, but only played twice in 1972; rehearsed again in 1976, but left unheard until 1989.
And from 1971:
Bird Song – after 8/23/71, dropped for a year; although rehearsed with Keith on 9/29/71, wasn’t played again til 7/18/72 (then only lasted another year, to 9/15/73).
Comes a Time – dropped after 10/19/72, gone til ’76.
There was also a major break in the Dead’s tour history where their song repertoire had to be reconsidered and re-learned: the long touring hiatus from late ’74 to early ’76. A few long-unplayed “oldies” returned in 1976: St Stephen, Cosmic Charlie, High Time, Comes a Time, and Candyman (which had only been played once in 1974). And along with several new songs, the Dead also finally started playing The Wheel, which had appeared on Garcia’s solo album five years earlier.
On the other hand, many songs that had been regulars in ’74 were temporarily dropped, and took surprisingly long to return. Here are the dates of their post-hiatus debuts:
Ramble On Rose 9/23/76
He’s Gone 10/15/76
Uncle John’s Band 12/31/76
Brokedown Palace 5/1/77
Jack Straw 5/3/77
Mexicali Blues 5/9/77
China Doll 5/19/77
Truckin’ 9/3/77 (though it was played on 9/28/75)
Dire Wolf 9/28/77
Black Peter 10/1/77
Casey Jones 10/2/77
China Cat 12/29/77 (though not played again for a year)
Dark Star 12/31/78
Greatest Story 2/17/79
To Lay Me Down 9/26/80
Cumberland Blues 8/27/81
After the Godchauxs left the band and Brent joined in 1979, there was much less of a change from their standard setlist pattern. But a few songs would also be neglected for some time: Dark Star and St Stephen, for instance, the band had half-heartedly played only three times in Keith’s last months and were in no hurry to revisit. These are the dates other songs returned:
Dire Wolf 8/31/79
Greatest Story 8/31/79
Ramble On Rose 9/2/79
Let It Grow 9/2/79
Casey Jones 11/2/79
High Time 11/10/79
Uncle John’s Band 12/26/79
Brokedown Palace 12/26/79
Comes a Time 5/10/80
The Wheel 8/17/80
It Must Have Been The Roses 9/25/80
Might As Well 8/12/81
REVIVALS OF THE 1980s (a list by Vapors)
There were a number of songs that returned to the repertoire during the Brent years that had not been performed for varying periods of time. Some are more significant than others, but I have attempted to list them and provide some interesting info. This has been percolating in the back of my mind for a while. So here goes, without caveat or disclaimer except to state that this is by no means necessarily intended to be ‘complete’. The research is my own and based mostly on objective facts, rather than subjective music quality. Although I have struggled to be as accurate as I can with the resources available to me, there are likely to be some errors.
This was an academic exercise that I wanted to attempt, mainly driven by the great joy I experienced being in attendance when the band broke out a cherished and rare song from the old days. I originally was going to have the subject be ‘Revivals and Breakouts’ but quickly realized it would be too much. It is tricky to be as accurate and informative as possible - which is certainly easier today than it was before the advent of the internet - because some of the data out there is inconsistent and conflicting.
This does not cover the ‘jams', and focuses on the Brent years, although a few post-Brent 1990s revivals (and a few from the last days of Keith) have also been included.
Perhaps a starting point should be the acoustic shows in the fall of 1980 - at the Warfield, Saenger and Radio City shows, and the subsequent acoustic sets from 12/6/80 Mill Valley, 12/31/80 Oakland, 4/25/81 Berkeley, 5/22/81 Warfield, and the two Amsterdam shows in October 1981. A number of songs were brought back that had not been played for some time. Some of the songs performed were never played again (Dark Hollow, Rosalie McFall, I’ve Been All Around This World, Heaven Help The Fool, Little Sadie, Sage and Spirit) but many of the revivals made it into future (electric) rotation.
BIRD SONG . . . Last played on 9/15/73 - opens the first acoustic show at the Warfield on 9/25/80 :
On 11/30/80 it moved back to the electric sets, and was played every year thereafter :
Here’s a good one from MSG 10/11/83, which also features the first of three Brent era St. Stephens :
CHINA DOLL . . . Played post-hiatus 3 times in 1977, once in 1979 with Brent : (Nice transition back into Playin’)
Returns acoustically on 9/26/80 and is performed until 1994. (It also returned to the electric sets on 11/30/80; see 10/11/83 Bird Song link for another one.)
DEEP ELEM BLUES . . . This traditional song was played regularly in 1970, and at one rehearsal with Keith on 9/30/71. It was then played again once on 11/17/78. (This show also includes the first Dark Hollow since 4/29/71, among other rarities.)
Returns next in the acoustic sets on 10/4/80; first electric set 11/28/80 and is performed electrically ten times through 1983.
IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES . . . Very common in the Keith years, this song’s first Brent performance was on 9/25/80. It moved to the electric sets on 11/26/80, and stayed there til 1995.
LITTLE SADIE . . . Played a few times in the 1969-70 acoustic sets, this traditional song was played only once in 1980 (in an acoustic set that also included the only Sage and Spirit since 1975) :
MONKEY AND THE ENGINEER . . . This Jesse Fuller song was played in 1969-1970, and returns for the 1980 acoustic sets on 9/25/80. Next played on the David Letterman show 4/13/82, and only once more (in the second set) on 2/12/89.
OH BABE, IT AIN'T NO LIE . . . This song by Elizabeth Cotton debuted on 9/25/80, and was played only in the acoustic sets, excepting 3/23/84 when Jerry opens the second set with it, while Bob has equipment issues.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN . . . This traditional song was last sung in 1966 by Jerry - Bob revives it on 9/26/80 and it is played fairly infrequently through 1984, most often in 1982. First 1980 electric performance :
THE RACE IS ON . . . This George Jones song was played in the 1970 acoustic sets and frequently in 1973-74; last played 10/19/74. It returns in the acoustic set on 9/27/80, and is played through Amsterdam.
Next played in Sacramento on 5/3/86 and is performed just five more times after that, once per year.
RIPPLE . . . Last played on 4/29/71 – returns for the first Warfield show on 9/25/80 and ends all 27 acoustic sets this year, and also the 1981 acoustic sets. But it was only to be played again once, as the encore on 9/3/88 :
TO LAY ME DOWN . . . Last played 10/19/74 – returns to open the acoustic set on 9/26/80. It made rare appearances through 1992; not played at all during 1984-87, and played the most often in 1981 and 1988. Lakeland 11/28/80:
Moving on from the acoustic sets ……
ATTICS OF MY LIFE . . . Last played on 10/28/72 in Cleveland, and rehearsed on 5/28/76 but not played that year; it is revived after 17 years in Hampton on 10/9/89, and played on occasion through the last tour.
(This show also features Dark Star and Death Don’t Have No Mercy mentioned below.)
BABY WHAT YOU WANT ME TO DO . . . Played once before on 9/7/69 at the Family Dog with other friends, this Jimmy Reed song is performed with Etta James, the Tower of Power horns, and Matt Kelly on harp at the NYE show in Oakland on 12/31/82.
Played again three times in 1985. (See 11/8/85 She Belongs To Me link to hear Brent sing it.)
BIG BOSS MAN . . . This Dixon/Smith song was originally recorded by Jimmy Reed in 1960; a frequent Pigpen standard and last sung by him on 5/25/72 in London. It is revived on 12/26/81 with Jerry singing and played very rarely - 15 times in all - through the last tour.
http://www.archive.org/details/gd1981-12-26.sbd.miller.83996.sbeok.flac16 ( Eleven jam also played here)
BIG BOY PETE . . . Last performance was on 9/20/70. It was played acoustically at the Rambler Room (Loyola College) 11/17/78 and revived once on 11/21/85 in Oakland :
BIG RAILROAD BLUES . . . Last played 10/19/74, revived on 2/17/79 during Keith and Donna’s last show.
First Brent performance 12/7/79. In rotation through 1995, performed less frequently in the 90s.
BLACK THROATED WIND . . . Last played on 10/19/74, it returns on 3/16/90 and is played through 1995.
BOX OF RAIN . . . Last played at Watkins Glen on 7/28/73, it returns in Hampton on 3/20/86 to end the first set. Stayed in rotation right up through the last show.
BROKEDOWN PALACE . . . Last played on 10/14/77 and revived on 12/26/79. Played through the last tour, almost always as the encore.
CASEY JONES . . . Last played on 10/17/74 and revived on 10/2/77, it is played with increasing infrequency up to 8/3/82, returns for two 1984 performances, put away again until 6/20/92 and only performed three more times after that.
CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER . . . Last played on 10/20/74, it is revived once on 12/29/77, and not heard again until four performances from the Godchaux’s last tour (starting with 2/3/79). Played regularly thereafter.
COMES A TIME . . . Performed in the years 1971, 1972, 1976 and 1977, it is played once each in 1978 and 1979 (5/16/78, 2/9/79), and then 7 times in 1980. Here’s the first one with Brent :
Broken out again for the twenty year anniversary shows at the Greek Theatre on 6/14/85.
( This show also features the first of four performances of Keep On Growing, a tune from the Derek and The Dominoes album Layla. )
Played 11 times in 1985, 7 in 1986, twice in 1987, and very rarely after that – only five performances in the ‘90s.
CRAZY FINGERS . . . Played twice in 1975, nine times in 1976. Made its glorious return in Ventura on 7/18/82, played seven times that year, once in 1983 and not heard again until Providence 4/4/85. It then stayed in the repertoire through the final tour in 1995.
CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT . . . Played regularly from 1967 through 1971, Cryptical is last heard on 9/23/72 (the only 1972 performance). Makes its triumphant return at the Greek on 6/16/85 :
It is played twice more on the summer tour – Cincinnati 6/24 and Merriweather 6/30 - then in Ventura 7/13/85 and finally Kansas City 9/3/85.
( Keep On Growing also played here, not to mention a mind bending Shakedown. )
CUMBERLAND BLUES . . . Last played on 10/18/74, Cumberland makes its return in Long Beach 8/27/81 - the recording from the next one (8/30/81) is somewhat better - and is performed up until the last show 7/9/95.
DARK STAR . . . Played regularly from 1967 through 1974, it is revived on 12/31/78 at Winterland, and played twice in January 1979. Next played on 12/31/81 where it starts off the third set :
Emerges again as the encore at the Greek on 7/13/84 :
- and is put away again for over five years until the Warlocks show in Hampton 10/9/89.
It is thereafter performed occasionally through spring 1994.
DEATH DON'T HAVE NO MERCY . . . This Rev. Gary Davis song was last played on 3/21/70; it is brought back after almost 19 years for four shows; 9/29/89, 10/9/89, 10/19/89, and 4/2/90 :
DON'T EASE ME IN . . . Traditional song last played on 8/6/74, it is performed again three times in Feb 1979 and regularly thereafter.
DUPREE'S DIAMOND BLUES . . . Put away after 7/11/69, Dupree’s is next performed at four shows in 1977 and then two in 1978. (The first was 10/2/77, linked above with Casey Jones.)
Returns as the encore in Oregon 8/28/82 - performed regularly through 1985, it is performed with less frequency through 1988, and only three times thereafter.
FROZEN LOGGER . . . Played briefly a few times by Bob during equipment issue breaks (lastly on 8/25/72) he tries it one time again on 9/7/85.
GOOD MORNING LITTLE SCHOOLGIRL . . . A Sonny Boy Williamson song last played 9/19/70 and brought out on 8/22/87 with Carlos Santana sitting in.
Played only seven more times (in the 90s).
GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD . . . Last played on 10/18/74 and revived on 2/17/79 (linked above with Big Railroad Blues). Next heard again on 8/31/79 with Brent and played through the last tour.
HARD TO HANDLE . . . This Otis Redding song was last performed on 8/26/71, and it is played two times more as an encore with Etta James singing and the Tower of Power horns on 12/30/82 and 12/31/82 in Oakland. (The 12/31/82 show is linked above w/ Baby What You Want Me To Do.)
HELP ON THE WAY / SLIPKNOT / FRANKLIN'S TOWER . . . Performed from 1975 through 10/11/77 (although they continued to play Franklin’s by itself) - it is revived on 3/25/83 in Tempe. Played fairly often in 1983 and 1984, twice in 1985. Returns next at the Hampton Warlocks shows on 10/8/89 and stays in rotation until 1995.
HERE COMES SUNSHINE . . . A regular in 1973, this song was last played on 2/23/74. Revived on 12/6/92 (due to Vince’s encouragement), it was played through 1995.
HEY BO DIDDLEY . . . This was played a few times in 1972 as part of the Not Fade Away medley (5/23, 7/16, and 8/22/72). It made a surprise return out of the Not Fade Away encore on 2/11/86.
HEY JUDE . . . Played twice before on 2/11/69 and 3/1/69, this Beatles song is heard again (just the reprise ending) after Dear Mr. Fantasy at Red Rocks 9/7/85 (linked above with Frozen Logger). It appears in the same format again 14 times in 1988, 9 in 1989, and 4 in 1990. (The only time Brent tried singing the whole song was 3/22/90.)
HIDEAWAY . . . This Freddie King instrumental was played once on 11/7/71 and then only once again on 6/21/89 at Shoreline (with some technical difficulties) :
HIGH TIME . . . After the last taped performance on 7/12/70, High Time is revived on 6/9/76, played nine times that year and three times in 1977 (lastly 5/26/77). Revived on 2/17/79 and next performed with Brent on 11/10/79 - played somewhat infrequently through 1995.
I JUST WANT TO MAKE LOVE TO YOU . . . This Willie Dixon song was played once on 11/29/66, twice in 1984 and then once more in 1995.
IT'S ALL OVER NOW, BABY BLUE . . . This Dylan song, performed 22 times 1966-1974, last played 2/24/74; it is revived in Seattle on 8/14/81 and stayed in rotation as an encore (some exceptions during the 1987 Dylan tour) through 1995.
IT TAKES A LOT TO LAUGH, IT TAKES A TRAIN TO CRY . . . Played once (with Allmans help) on 6/10/73, this Dylan/JGB standard appeared again in a Dead show on 5/12/91, and was played six times over the next year.
KING BEE . . . Last sung by Pigpen on 12/15/71, this Slim Harpo song is next sung by Bob two times; 12/8/93 and 3/31/94.
LA BAMBA . . . This Ritchie Valens song made a brief appearance in Good Lovin’ on 11/11/70 and is played four times in 1987, also in a Good Lovin’ sandwich.
LOOSE LUCY . . . Last performed at Winterland on 10/19/74, it returns to the repertoire on 3/14/90 and is played through the last tour.
LOUIE LOUIE . . . This song was originally written and recorded by Richard Berry; the remake by The Kingsmen became quite popular. Performed on 9/7/69 by Jerry with some of the Jefferson Airplane, and then an instrumental tease on 6/7/70. (Bob: ‘Hey man, none of us knows that song.’) Sung by Brent five times in 1988, once more in 1989.
MIDNIGHT HOUR . . . First played in 1966, last played 4/29/71, and put away until 12/31/82 when it is one of the encores played with the Tower of Power (linked above with Baby What You Want). Next played as another New Year’s encore with Rick Danko and Maria Muldar :
Played infrequently, more often in 1985-1986, until 1994. ( Played with Santana on 8/22/87 – see above Schoolgirl link.)
NEW ORLEANS . . . Played three times in 1969-70 (last time 11/8/70), it is revived once on 6/21/84 (with The Band) :
NEW SPEEDWAY BOOGIE . . . Originally played from December 1969 to September 1970, this post-Altamont song was revived on 2/19/91, and played through 1995.
REUBEN AND CHERISE . . . Not a revival but a breakout, this JGB standard since 1977 was first played by the Dead on 3/17/91. They played it only four times that year before returning it to the JGB.
THE SAME THING . . . A Willie Dixon tune sung four times by Pigpen in 1966 and 1967 :
It is performed one last time on 12/31/71 :
And revived by Bob on 12/28/91. Played hence through the last tour.
SHE BELONGS TO ME . . . This Dylan song was played once on 1/7/66 (according to Deadbase) and next in Providence on 4/4/85. Played a total of nine times in 1985 only.
Here’s one from Rochester 11/8/85 :
SMOKESTACK LIGHTNING . . . A song by Howlin’ Wolf (Chester Burnett), last sung by Pigpen on 3/25/72 and isn’t heard again until the instrumental jam out of Truckin’ on 4/9/83. It returns with Bob singing (and no harmonica) on 10/9/84 and is played occasionally until 1994.
ST. STEPHEN . . . Played 1968 through 10/31/71, the mighty St. Stephen is reborn, at a slower tempo, on 6/9/76 and was played throughout 1976 and 1977, four times in 1978 and then in Nassau on 1/10/79. It reappears at MSG on 10/11/83 (linked above w/ Bird Song) and is only performed two more times – 10/15/83 and 10/31/83. Here is the Hartford rendition :
THAT'S ALL RIGHT MAMA . . . This Arthur Crudup song had been played by the Dead once with the Allman Brothers on 6/10/73, and appeared once more in the first set on 4/18/86 :
TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT . . . This Malone/Scott composition was first recorded by Bobby Bland in 1961. Last played in London on 5/24/72, Bob brings it back for one 1981 appearance in Amsterdam on 10/16/81:
Next performed twice in 1982, it is brought back again on 7/7/84 and stays in steady rotation thereafter.
UNBROKEN CHAIN . . . OK, not a revival since they hadn’t played it live before. It first appeared on 3/19/95 to end the first set, and was played ten times that year.
VISIONS OF JOHANNA . . . One of the few songs that was first played in the Brent years and revived in the ‘90s, this Dylan song was first played by the Dead twice in 1986, then brought back on 2/21/95 and played six times that year.
WALKIN' BLUES . . . Played once on 10/7/66 (according to Deadbase), this Robert Johnson song’s next performance is on 5/28/82 (with Boz Scaggs singing), to be followed by four in 1985. In 1987 it enters regular rotation through 1995.
WALKING THE DOG . . . Written and released by Rufus Thomas in 1963, the Dead played it twice in 1970. It returns for a rare appearance on 3/29/84, then three 1985 performances. It is next (and last) heard on the Letterman show 9/17/87.
WE BID YOU GOODNIGHT . . . Last heard at Winterland on 12/31/78, it is sung again at Alpine Valley on 7/17/89. It makes six 1989 appearances, four in 1990, and a final performance in Boston on 9/26/91.
WEREWOLVES OF LONDON . . . Played 9 times in 1978, this Warren Zevon song was brought out for Halloween in 1985, 1990 and 1991.
THE WHEEL . . . Played regularly from 6/3/76 until 10/30/77, it is performed once in 1978 (2/3/78) and once in 1979 (2/17/79). Returns to regular rotation on 8/17/80.
List Taken From:
The Dead's Original Songs, Listed By Number Of Times Played
[The numbers on the graph don't always match with the numbers on other setlist sources, especially for the earlier songs, as there's often some variability in counting. Deadlists.com is the most accurate place to find performance numbers, but this gives an idea. Of course all songs before 1971 are undercounted, as there's no way to tell how many performances don't survive.]
Playing in the Band 602
The Other One 597
Sugar Magnolia 594
China Cat Sunflower 559
Jack Straw 474
Mexicali Blues 441
Tennessee Jed 433
Looks Like Rain 415
Wharf Rat 394
Estimated Prophet 389
Eyes of the World 383
Brown Eyed Women 348
Black Peter 343
One More Saturday Night 339
Uncle John’s Band 332
Stella Blue 328
He’s Gone 327
US Blues 324
Ramble On Rose 316
Scarlet Begonias 316
Casey Jones 314
Friend of the Devil 304
Terrapin Station 302
Bird Song 296
Greatest Story Ever Told 280
Let It Grow 276
Row Jimmy 274
I Need A Miracle 270
Throwing Stones 265
Mississippi Half-Step 258
The Wheel 258
Fire on the Mountain 253
Dire Wolf 237
Music Never Stopped 233
Dark Star 232
Cumberland Blues 228
They Love Each Other 227
Ship of Fools 225
Saint of Circumstance 222
Franklin’s Tower 221
Hell in a Bucket 216
Brokedown Palace 215
Touch of Grey 213
Feel Like a Stranger 207
St Stephen 165
Shakedown Street 163
Box of Rain 162
It Must Have Been The Roses 159
Black Throated Wind 158
Stagger Lee 146
Lost Sailor 145
Crazy Fingers 144
Alabama Getaway 141
West LA Fadeaway 140
Cryptical Envelopment 135
High Time 133
China Doll 114
Might As Well 111
Lazy Lightning 110
Help on the Way 106
My Brother Esau 104
The Eleven 98
Loose Lucy 98
Victim or the Crime 96
Foolish Heart 87
Dupree’s Diamond Blues 80
Picasso Moon 77
Standing on the Moon 76
Black Muddy River 66
Comes A Time 66
Here Comes Sunshine 66
Lazy River Road 65
To Lay Me Down 63
When Push Comes to Shove 58
Keep Your Day Job 57
New Speedway Boogie 56
So Many Roads 55
Weather Report Suite Prelude 52
Attics of My Life 48
Mr. Charlie 48
Weather Report Suite Part One 47
Easy Wind 45
Easy Answers 44
Days Between 41
Cosmic Charlie 41
Doin’ That Rag 37
Chinatown Shuffle 28
From the Heart of Me 27
New Potato Caboose 24
Wave to the Wind 21
Built to Last 18
Mason’s Children 18
Heaven Help the Fool 17
If the Shoe Fits 17
Wave That Flag 15
Two Souls in Communion 13
Mountains of the Moon 12
Childhood’s End 11
Unbroken Chain 10
Born Cross-Eyed 9
Believe It Or Not 7
Cream Puff War 7
Let Me Sing Your Blues Away 6
King Solomon’s Marbles 5
Mission in the Rain 5
Till the Morning Comes 5
Reuben and Cherise 4
Blues for Allah 3
Empty Pages 3
Golden Road 3
If I Had the World to Give 3
Money Money 3
Sage & Spirit 2
Salt Lake City 1
Comments, corrections and additions are welcome!