July 8, 2021

The Spanish Jam

We’ll start our story in 1960, when an unusual new jazz album hit the shelves. One of several collaborations between Gil Evans & Miles Davis, Sketches of Spain was a tribute to the music of Spain, a fusion of jazz & orchestral classical music. The album made a splash when it came out, winning a Grammy. The “brooding, dramatic Spanish sound" proved alluring for many listeners – Jerry Garcia listened to it over and over in ’61. Phil Lesh remembered that “Sketches of Spain was one of those classic albums, at one time you could walk down any street in a college town and hear it floating out of almost every window.” It started a trend of Spanish flirtations in jazz music – one notable example was John Coltrane’s Olé album in ’61, the title track inspired by a Spanish folk tune: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Z5cRYd1Vr4  
 
But the album had a famous influence in rock music as well. One day in early 1966, Grace Slick was at home writing a new song on her piano:
“The music I came up with was based on a slow Spanish march or bolero that builds in intensity. I’ve always had a thing for Spanish folk music. Back in 1963…one day we took acid and I put on Miles Davis’s “Sketches of Spain.” I loved that album and I listened to it over and over for hours, particularly “Concierto de Aranjuez,” which takes up most of the first side. It’s hypnotic... “Sketches of Spain” was drilled into my head and came squirting out in various ways as I wrote ‘White Rabbit.’”
 
The Dead couldn’t help but notice when White Rabbit became a hit single for Jefferson Airplane – especially when people kept requesting it at their shows! But the track on Sketches of Spain that caught their ear was the closing number, Solea:
The martial-sounding backdrop struck a chord with the Dead, and one day in late ’67, they worked it up into their own version. Lesh wrote in his book that the Spanish Jam was “a four-bar pattern we’d borrowed from the Miles Davis/Gil Evans album Sketches of Spain.” (p.176) Hearing a ‘68 Spanish jam in 1981, Lesh said, “I wish we still played like that. That was our Sketches of Spain take, it was part of our act at the time.”
(Mickey Hart was also asked about the Sketches of Spain link in 1981: "God! Those things just come out! Those are really not planned. That really comes out when we are jamming. I forgot even where that came from! I didn't even think about that, but, you're right, that's where it did come from…I knew I recognized it from someplace!") 
 
Sketches of Spain was initially inspired by flamenco music; although Solea was composed by Gil Evans, he studied and drew on this traditional background. The solea is a type of flamenco music, generally slow-tempo, based on a 12-beat rhythm cycle – the Sketches of Spain liner notes called the solea “a song of longing or lament, like the Afro-American blues.” A brief introduction is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKXu0orMDqg
But you can also find many others (such as these from Paco de Lucia, Paco Pena, & Manolo Sanlucar). Those may sound far-removed from the Spanish Jam, but other short samples (including a beginner’s lesson) show chording similar to what Weir used.
(An aside: it might be thought that since Garcia’s grandparents came from Spain, he had some personal connection to flamenco music. Not so: flamenco was the music of Andalusia in southern Spain, while Garcia’s ancestors came from Galicia in the northern corner of Spain, with a quite distinct culture. Traditional Galician music was played on bagpipes, not guitars!)
 
The Dead incorporated the marching drums and chord rhythm of Solea into their own flamenco-tinged jam. But it wasn’t their only source. The Spanish Jam also has a strong resemblance to Malaguena, a well-known composition originally by Ernesto Lecuona (and titled after another flamenco style).
This was covered far and wide in the ‘60s, from solo guitarists (like Chet Atkins) to orchestras (like Stanley Black’s) to jazz groups (like Stan Kenton’s)…even Bill Haley stepped in the ring. So the Dead certainly would have known it as a background influence, giving shape to the chords in their jam.
 
As far as I know the band didn’t have a name for their new theme – per McNally, they “never bothered to name” it. The title “Spanish Jam” was given by tape collectors only much later, well into the ‘80s. When tapes of the 2/14/68 broadcast started circulating in the ‘70s, listeners were puzzled by the appearance of this jam they hadn’t heard before. Dick Latvala called it “a long jam built around the ‘Spanish-style’ motif, so similar to many of the jams from 1974.” Another listener called it “a weird Spanish sounding thing that has overtones of Quicksilver.”
A review in Dark Star magazine described it as “a twelve-minute untitled piece that is easily the best part of the tape. It starts as feedback…[and] quickly develops some form by way of the drumming, which turns into a quiet march time. The band pick up on it and the feedback changes into a fullblown jam in Spanish/Mexican style. The only comparison is with “Calvary” on Quicksilver’s “Happy Trails” album. It returns to feedback at the end and then fades out.”
 
The comparison to Quicksilver Messenger Service was apt – their instrumental track Calvary on the 1969 Happy Trails album also strays into Spanish territory: 
Calvary has a strong Morricone spaghetti-western vibe…it’s kind of like Quicksilver’s version of a Spanish Jam>Feedback. But I don’t know whether that was coincidental or if they had a little indirect inspiration from the Dead. (Cipollina & Duncan both said that Calvary was “our interpretation of the crucifixion,” which points away from any Spanish or Dead influence.)
Not many Quicksilver tapes from 1968 survive, but it doesn’t look like Quicksilver were playing it yet during the winter ’68 “Quick & the Dead” tour. It doesn’t appear in the Mona>Maiden of the Cancer Moon suite on 12/31/67 or 6/7/68– there’s a studio outtake of it called “F-Sharp Thing” in September ’68, then the only full live version I know of comes from the Fillmore West on 11/7/68. So it seems likely the Dead had stopped playing the Spanish Jam that year long before Quicksilver composed their “acid-flamenco” piece.
 
The Dead came up with the Spanish Jam during a fruitful period in fall 1967 when they were rehearsing at the Potrero Theater in San Francisco. It was an abandoned movie theater that had become “a rat-infested dump;” Lesh described it as “a windy, cavernous, funky old place (we more than once blew insulating material off the ceiling with low-frequency feedback).” (p.131) After Mickey Hart joined the band, they spent many hours there in late ’67 going over their new material – Dark Star, the Other One, China Cat, the Eleven. Weir brought in a new song, Born Cross-Eyed, a piece so rhythmically off-kilter it made New Potato Caboose sound normal.
Per Steve Silberman, the Spanish Jam was Weir's idea - he wrote in the Taping Compendium, "According to Lesh, Weir first introduced what became known as the 'Spanish Jam' to the band at rehearsals at [the] Potrero Theater in late 1967." (p.230) When the Dead started playing it live in early ’68, the Spanish Jam was always appended to Born Cross-Eyed, the way the Eleven was attached to China Cat. This makes me think the Spanish Jam was originally intended to be a coda to that song; the band didn’t conceive it as a free-floating theme. (Or maybe they were paired together live since it was difficult for anything else to follow Born Cross-Eyed.)
 
When Born Cross-Eyed was released in ’68, it still had a little Spanish vestige in it: a short trumpet break in the middle, played by Lesh. This sounds like a direct nod to Miles Davis, though no listeners could have known that – or, possibly, it could be a hint of New Orleans trumpet playing. (The break was played the same way live, just minus the trumpet.) Lesh has a quote in the book Playing in the Band confirming the link: "Born Cross-Eyed has the only recorded example of my trumpet playing, a little Miles Davis 'Sketches of Spain' bit I overdubbed in the break where Weir sings 'from time to time.'" (p.93)
The original album cut of Born Cross-Eyed faded out; the single version ended with a blast of feedback; the Spanish Jam itself was left unreleased, and the Dead apparently stopped playing them both by the time Anthem of the Sun came out.
 
The Spanish Jam was regularly featured in the Jan/Feb ’68 tour of the northwest with Quicksilver. For that tour, the Dead hit on the idea of playing suites of connected songs to use on the next album, such as Dark Star>China Cat Sunflower>The Eleven, and the Other One suite>New Potato Caboose>Born Cross-Eyed. (There could also be variations, such as when Clementine followed the Other One.) While Born Cross-Eyed could appear by itself sometimes after the tour, in general it followed New Potato Caboose as part of a suite.
 
1/17/68
Born Cross-Eyed>Spanish Jam (15:40)>Feedback
The closing chord of Born Cross-Eyed turns into a hum of feedback, and the guitarists delightfully tease the Spanish Jam for a minute before Weir starts the chords and the drummers start the rat-a-tat march. (This opening section would be a regular part of the 1968 Spanish Jams; I think of it as the prelude.) The drums & bass are quiet in this mix, but the jam gets fuller over time – Garcia’s searing peals, Weir’s grungy slashing chords, and Pigpen’s organ splashes paint a bloody picture. The band runs out of steam after ten minutes, but they still keep puttering along without direction – and after 12 minutes the jam gradually returns to wild industrial feedback.
This doesn’t sound like a first performance; I would guess they’d played it in previous shows.
 
1/20/68
Born Cross-Eyed>Feedback>Spanish Jam (10:10)>Caution Jam>Dark Star
Tonight there’s noisier feedback after BCE with louder percussion. Again the Spanish Jam slowly pieces itself together in a long two-minute tease before it finally gets going. The tape mix is much better than 1/17, giving the performance more impact – the drumming has more drive, Pigpen fills in the corners, and Lesh shoots out distorted thunder and Caution riffs. The jam disintegrates in the last minute as Lesh gets impatient and the drummers start up a short inconclusive Caution jam.
 
1/26/68 ("1/22")
Born Cross-Eyed>Feedback>Spanish Jam (10:15)>Dark Star
BCE heads into three minutes of threatening feedback. Once again, they tease the Spanish Jam at length and it very slowly coalesces from the fragments over a couple of minutes, before Weir gives it a proper start. Though the tempo sounds slower than 1/20, the jam builds up with relentless force and a deep ominousness. The jam finally dissolves in a hail of drumbeats, and they coast quietly for a minute until Garcia hints at Dark Star.
 
1/27/68 ("1/23")
Born Cross-Eyed>Spanish Jam (17/:00) [cut]
This Spanish Jam is cut into two pieces, found on incomplete tapes with different dates. They’re both from this show, though. The cut is likely just due to a reel flip, but the two tapes were dated & mixed differently during the chaos of preparing tapes for Anthem.
This night’s feedback after BCE is rather short & sedate and soon leads to the Spanish Jam ‘prelude’ where they tease bits of the theme. Most of the “1/23” tape fragment is this quiet prelude, as hints & pieces of the Spanish Jam spookily float around. It takes them four minutes to get started with the proper jam, shortly before the tape cuts. The “1/27” tape fragment continues from here, with maybe a minute or two missing. (This tape is in lesser quality, with tape warble & the stereo image flipped.)
The Spanish Jam this night is very loose, the longest ever played. It doesn’t have nearly the driving momentum of the previous performances – half its length is spent in a slow, spacy breakdown of the theme with no forward pulse. They seem to just be dragging it out as long as possible. (Oddly in several of these shows, the Dead stretch out the Spanish Jam as long as they can, so it was a deliberate strategy.) Nine minutes into the 1/27 tape, it turns into a bass/drums jam with feedback, then gains momentum in the last minute for a strong finish. This closes the show: “We’ll see you next time we’re in Seattle.”
 
2/3/68
Born Cross-Eyed>Spanish Jam (1:46/) [cuts]
Only a couple minutes of the Spanish Jam prelude here as they tease it before the tape cuts. What’s left isn’t much – sounds more like a quiet tuneup.
 
2/14/68
Born Cross-Eyed>Spanish Jam (12:00)
(Released on Road Trips 2.2.)
The feedback after BCE leads quickly to the Spanish Jam prelude. The Spanish teases blend with feedback in another long, leisurely introduction – it’s almost four minutes before the chords & drums kick in. Like 1/27, this is a loose & baggy version, not a steady drive all the way but pausing & breaking down before reviving again – intense passages give way to seemingly aimless stretches. In the last minute it finally dissolves to the crash of a gong and fades to silence.
 
2/23/68
Born Cross-Eyed>Spanish Jam (7:13)  
(Released on Dick’s Picks 22.)
Again, just a short post-BCE feedback before the Spanish teases commence. After 2:30 the jam coalesces; it seems to be getting ever more subdued and melancholy-sounding. The jam is shorter than usual as everyone just stops playing, leaving Garcia & a drummer to close it out.
 
3/30/68
Born Cross-Eyed>Spanish Jam (9:50)>Death Don’t Have No Mercy
On the tape of 3/29/68, Born Cross-Eyed cuts off after 18 seconds, but most likely went into the Spanish Jam as always.
On 3/30, some intense post-BCE feedback leads into a couple minutes of Spanish teases. Once the jam takes shape, it has quite a morose feel, slow & heavy – it sounds almost like a death dirge. I don’t think Pigpen’s organ has been heard in the Spanish Jam since 1/22, but he shows up again here. This Spanish Jam comes to a gloomy conclusion as Garcia’s weeping guitar glides smoothly into Death Don’t Have No Mercy.
 
That would be the last Spanish Jam on tape for two years. The Dead may have played it a little while longer, but by August ’68 at the latest they’d dropped it from their sets. Abandoned and forgotten, it wasn’t heard again until…
 
2/11/70
Dark Star>Spanish Jam (9:40)>Lovelight (w/ Duane Allman & Peter Green)
During a Dark Star at the Fillmore East, the Dead are joined by Peter Green and Duane Allman (soon to be followed onstage by other members of their bands). With all the extra firepower, Dark Star turns into a rock & roll guitar duel – in the midst of one hot Peter Green solo, Weir starts playing the Spanish Jam chords. The others quickly adjust and it proves an easy theme for group jamming, the guests fitting right in (including the organist, probably Gregg Allman). It has a more hard-driving groove than in ’68, more like the Spanish Stomp, as an assertive Lesh and an energized group of musicians take it out at length. Garcia mostly stays in the background, as the other guitarists take turns in the lead – Allman at 4:20, Green at 5:30, Allman again at 8:20. (I gave a more blow-by-blow account here.) The jam ends with Allman’s searing solo before the Dead start up Lovelight.
 
Despite this successful revival, the Spanish Jam then vanished again for another three years.
 
4/25/71
Briefly teased for about 30 seconds before Not Fade Away, almost as a joke.
 
8/15/71
Not a Spanish Jam – the Dead tease White Rabbit after Sugaree, to much hilarity. This followed years of requests for White Rabbit that the band liked to parody (for instance, after ‘Cowboy Song’ on 4/9/70).
 
3/24/73
Truckin’>Jam>Spanish Jam (5:50)>Dark Star
(Released on Dave’s Picks 32.) [starts at 12:00]
Truckin’ soon subsides into a calm, quiet jam, seemingly headed for Dark Star, but the Dead take a detour through a long jazzy improvisation. After a bass/drums interlude, the jamming skitters forward, and once again Weir pulls the Spanish Jam theme from nowhere. The band soon catches on – it’s a little discordant at first as Keith figures out the chords, the jam being new to him. In the Dead’s ’73 guise, the Spanish Jam has a smoother feel, more sweet & languorous than the distorted heat-bath of ’68, Garcia’s clean tone not as stinging as it once was. With one drummer now, the beat swings more – they now incorporate a Casey Jones-style shuffle section. The energy subsides in the last minute and the band drifts off into a tranquil space before finally winding up in a brief Dark Star.
 
3/31/73
Other One>Spanish Jam (2:07)>Other One
During a very laid-back Other One jam, Garcia surprises by initiating a loose Spanish theme, and the others gather round him making an interesting variation. The proper Spanish Jam only lasts a minute before they lose interest and move on to the Other One verse, and from there promptly dive into Space.
 
Now that the Spanish Jam was back, would the Dead keep playing it through ’73? Nope, you guessed it – they dropped the theme again. It resurfaced in ’74:
 
2/24/74
A tease: during Dark Star, Weir plays it in a frenetic moment at 24:20, for about 30 seconds before it’s dropped.
 
6/23/74
Dark Star Jam>Spanish Jam (4:10)>US Blues
(Released on Dave’s Picks 34.)
Dark Star opens quietly and stays that way for a long time before gradually heating up. They never go to the verse, but keep the jam spacy and gooey; finally the pace picks up and the jam thickens. In a quiet pause, the Spanish Jam starts slowly & deliberately to a martial drumbeat. Keith’s on his Rhodes and sounds more prepared this time; and now Garcia’s using a fuzztone on his guitar to blistering effect (at least in the first part of the jam). This harks back more to the ’68 force than the ’73 attempts did – it sounds like they rehearsed it this time! A booming Lesh drives the jam in the second half, pushing Garcia to more intense peaks. They reach a smashing conclusion and segue straight into a US Blues jam.
 
6/26/74
Truckin’>Other One Jam>Spanish Jam (6:00)>Other One Jam>Wharf Rat
(Released on Dick’s Picks 12.)
Truckin’ lightly trickles out into the Other One; but after Lesh sets up the intro in a chordal solo, the Other One lasts less than a minute before Kreutzmann starts the familiar marching beat. The others join in him a slow & steady Spanish Jam that gradually builds up steam. Garcia moves through different tones, from fuzz to wah-wah, and Keith adds a ghostly Rhodes backdrop. The mood is less heavy than on 6/23, more light & fluttery. After a feisty peak, Lesh starts pushing the Other One riff while Weir’s still playing the Spanish chords, and in a little tug-of-war the Other One wins. They never get to the verse though, but drift right off into a long quiet space.
 
7/19/74
Let It Grow>Spanish Jam (7:15)>Eyes of the World
(Released on Dave’s Picks 17.)
After Let It Grow, the Dead are itching for a jam; Lesh bangs out some chords and Garcia turns on his fuzziest tone. The Spanish mood is in the air, and soon enough Weir starts up the chords for a sizzling opening. Garcia sounds a bit like a trumpet here – until he switches tones to the wah again. The band, Lesh in particular, are much more energetic than on 6/26; Keith is confident on the Rhodes. But by the last minute, Garcia stops soloing and just strums, leaving Lesh in the lead; the jam breaks up and they shift somewhat awkwardly to Eyes of the World.
 
7/21/74
A tease: Weir plays the chords about 20:30 into Playing in the Band and keeps it up for a minute, but the rest of the band opts for Wharf Rat instead.
 
7/29/74
Other One>Spanish Jam (3:25)>Wharf Rat
(Released on Dave’s Picks 2 bonus disc.)
The Other One moves from a drums‘n’Jerry interlude to a little freakout to a scampering jam in which the Spanish theme sneakily emerges, mutating from the Other One riff. After a minute the regular beat & chords appear. Garcia’s on slide, giving this one a more wistful effect closer to the Mind Left Body jam. Not an intense Spanish Jam, but a different approach. In the end Weir abruptly signals the Other One again, but that’s short-lived, so they slow down for Wharf Rat.
 
7/31/74
Truckin’>Mind Left Body Jam>Spanish Jam (2:10)>Wharf Rat
(Released on Dave’s Picks 2.)
A long Truckin’ jam leads far & wide and winds up in a fine up-tempo Mind Left Body jam. When this finishes, Garcia’s drifting wah warbles the band into a spacy boogie. Kreutzmann suddenly kicks up the Spanish Jam beat and they explore that for a couple minutes, Garcia fluttering around on flaming wah. The theme is strong but short-lived; they wrap it up with an unexpected Mind Left Body reprise before turning to Wharf Rat.
 
8/6/74
Truckin’>Spanish Jam (4:00)>Other One
A quiet, evocative Truckin’ space-jam ends in some thundering bass chords. A meltdown seems imminent, but instead Weir starts the Spanish Jam. Initially just bass & drums join him, and it takes a minute for Garcia to come in. Garcia has a light touch here and basically stays in the back seat, so this is a more scattered version. Lesh takes the lead, and as on 6/26 he shoves the band into the Other One again. This takes a while to get going since Garcia just wants to noodle spacily for a while.
 
10/17/74
Other One>Spanish Jam (1:45)>Mind Left Body Jam>Other One
(Released on the Grateful Dead Movie Soundtrack.)
Near the end of a long Other One, the Spanish Jam comes out of a fast, dense jam. It’s short and Garcia sits out the first minute, but for 40 seconds he plays slide (as on 7/29). Perhaps responding to this, Weir switches to the Mind Left Body jam which the band is more in the mood for, and they linger on that before returning to the Other One conclusion.
 
After that, the Dead went on hiatus, but two years later the Spanish Jam would return…
 
7/16/76
Samson & Delilah>Space>Spanish Jam (6:40)>Drums
(Released on Dave’s Picks 18 bonus disc.)
As soon as Samson & Delilah ends, the Dead drop into an aimless, extremely quiet space (I think the intent was to continue the Playin’ in the Band jam from earlier in the set). This also serves as a sly tuneup that dissolves into silence – the first faint hints of the Spanish Jam emerge at 2:30, and Weir finally starts the chords at 3:45 as Garcia trills. (In a way it’s a bit like the early ’68 versions where the Spanish Jam would slowly piece itself together from spacy fragments.)
It’s a solid version, by no means rusty after two years, but now it takes on more of a ’76 feel with Garcia’s clean Travis Bean tone and Keith chording on piano. This is Mickey Hart’s first Spanish Jam since 1970, but the drummers don’t play a big part here. Within a few minutes it turns into a two-chord jam (similar to others played in ’76) which drifts away at the end and stops for Drums.
 
This was one of the spontaneous setlist surprises of ’76 – but after this breakout, would the Spanish Jam become part of the Dead’s repertoire? Of course not! It wouldn’t show up again for five years…
 
5/5/81
Truckin’>Spanish Jam (3:10)>Alabama Getaway
In yet another surprise reappearance, Garcia starts ambiguously hinting at the Spanish theme after 6:30 in the Truckin’ jam; eventually the others catch on, and Weir confirms it with the chords around 8:30. It doesn’t last long before they restlessly take a different direction 10 minutes in. This is a very short & scattered version, not very coherent – Garcia wanders around in a haze in this Truckin’ jam, new keyboardist Brent Mydland tries to follow along, and Lesh is barely there.
 
5/6/81
He’s Gone>Caution Jam>Spanish Jam (4:12)>Drums  
(Released on Dick’s Picks 13.)
The next night, Garcia continues his wanderings out of He’s Gone; after a pronounced Caution jam, he starts up a repetitive staccato phrase that gradually turns into a two-chord Spanish pattern that he sustains for a few minutes before it trickles out into Drums. The band’s a little more together than on 5/5, but this is barely a Spanish Jam: it has a similar feel in Garcia’s playing, but Weir’s not playing the chords at all, and no one else takes it in a Spanish direction. Marginal.
 
5/16/81
Saint of Circumstance>Jam/Spanish Jam (2:45)>Space>Drums  
(Released on 30 Trips.)
Ten days later, they get reacquainted with it – this is the first real ‘80s version. During an impromptu post-Saint jam, Garcia starts up the theme again; and this time the others join him more effectively, Weir finally playing the chords at length. Lesh is very subdued and not too active, but Brent’s getting the hang of it. This Spanish Jam has a quick & jerky rhythm and a rather keening lead from Garcia; within a few minutes it dissolves into an abstract space jam.
 
After these faltering steps, the Spanish Jam finally entered the repertoire again starting in August ‘81. It would be played semi-regularly (with declining frequency) to 1987, then somewhat infrequently from 1992-95. In these previous versions the Dead had been sticking it in any old jam, but from here on it found a permanent home after Space (or as part of Space). Most often it would head into Truckin’ or the Other One, perhaps since it was so easy to blend into the openings of those songs - a few other versions went into Wheel or Miracle. Brent’s keyboard playing tends to be very active in the early ‘80s versions as he provides counterpoint to Garcia (emphasized by his loudness in the tape mixes). 
 
Now that we’ve entered a new era, I only took brief notes on the Spanish Jams of the ‘80s-90s instead of full reviews. But you can still get a sense of how it developed in these years. Here’s the list of performances:
 
8/12/81
Space>Spanish Jam (3:22)>Truckin’  
Full band, slower pace from here on; strong version. Probably rehearsed! 
 
8/28/81
Space>Spanish Jam (5:13)>Truckin’
Full band, better version, Phil engaged & Garcia soaring.
 
9/27/81
Space>Spanish Jam (3:40)>Wharf Rat
Full band, good energy but hampered by Garcia being muted in the mix; fades to transitional drift into Wharf Rat (Garcia quotes Dark Star!). 
 
10/2/81
Space>Spanish Jam (4:30)>Truckin’
Full band, marching drums, hot, searing Garcia but quiet Weir (might be best version of the month).
 
10/4/81
Space>Spanish Jam (2:42)>Other One  
Full band, marching drums, hot, turns into the Other One (best mix of the month).
 
10/13/81
Space>Spanish Jam (4:17)>Wheel
Full band, marching drums, spacier, good but Weir’s very quiet in the mix.
 
10/19/81
Space>Spanish Jam (2:52)>Other One  
Full band, marching drums, perky bass, spicy hot & poppin’, but Weir quiet again –the only Spanish Jam played in Spain.
 
12/3/81
Space>Spanish Jam (4:12)>Truckin’ (turns into Other One tease)  
Full band: starts calmly, slow build, drums come in & the jam finally heats up (less energy than before, unusual for ’81 in drums staying out so long). 
 
4/17/82
Saint of Circumstance>Jam/Spanish Jam (2:50)>Drums (without Garcia)
Lounge version without Garcia. 
 
7/28/82
Space>Spanish Jam (4:40)>Jam>Not Fade Away (goes into St. Stephen-type theme)
Dramatic opening from Drums; theme is mostly delicate with no drums, goes into great tease-jam.
 
9/17/82
Space>Spanish Jam (3:40)>Other One
Mostly quiet without drums, more airy/spectral but rises to a surprise climax with the band. 
 
9/20/82
Space>Spanish Jam (3:14)>Truckin’
Full band, kind of rickety & muffled, not as intense as ’81. 
 
4/19/83
Space>Spanish Jam (4:00)>Jam>Truckin’ (turns into Truckin’ jam)
AUD tape – full band but barely any bass, ethereal/drifty, trickles out into Truckin’. 
 
6/22/83
Space>Spanish Jam (4:45)>Miracle
AUD tape, much better recording – strong version, Garcia’s buzzing; starts out with guitars & bass, then drummers join, comes to a surprise full-stop/feedback ending. 
 
9/4/83
Space>Spanish Jam (6:08)>Wheel  
Builds from Garcia/Weir duet to full band; very good intense version, best since ’81.
 
9/13/83
Space>Spanish Jam (4:00)>Space>Wheel (Spanish Jam before Space)
AUD tape, exc quality – full band, atmospheric & kind of dreamy, turns into a nice scrambly band Space. 
 
10/14/83
Space>Spanish Jam (3:22)>Other One
(Released on Dick’s Picks 6.)
A pristine Garcia/Weir duet, turns into an Other One tease/prelude. 
 
10/20/83
Space>Spanish Jam (5:40)>Other One
AUD tape, good quality – slowly builds from Garcia/Weir duet w/sound effects into full band, dreamy but stays pretty sedate, turns into Other One jam. 
 
3/29/84
Space>Spanish Jam (6:10)>Other One
Full band, very slow tempo, heavy feel, lots of Garcia feedback (nice to hear a stinging Jerry again after the calm/clean Oct ’83 duets). Best of ’84. 
 
4/7/84
Space>Spanish Jam (4:45)>Other One  
More lively, with drums & keyboard but no bass; echoey Garcia; turns into Other One jam.
 
4/23/84
Space>Spanish Jam (3:30)>Jam>Truckin’ (turns into Truckin’ jam)
Very echoey/spacy, just a Garcia/Weir duet w/ effects – rest of the band joins in when it becomes a Truckin’ jam. 
 
12/31/84
Space>Spanish Jam (5:50)>Wheel
Another echoey/spacey duet (surprisingly similar to the last one despite an 8-month gap!) - ‘84 Spanish Jams have become ever more ambient & disembodied. 
 
3/22/85
Space>Spanish Jam (3:05)>Truckin’   
AUD tape – brisk pace, Garcia/Weir with Lesh (first Spanish Jam bass in a year!) – has a little more punch.
 
3/27/86
Space>Spanish Jam (2:30)>Truckin’ (blends into Truckin’)  
Short, full band, marching drums & keyboard, Weir phased & Garcia echoey – spooky feel. 
 
6/30/87
Space>Spanish Jam (2:00)>Other One
Short, really just a spacy hint; even more spectral/echoey; guitars/bass/effects, no drums.
 
11/8/87
Space>Spanish Jam (2:30)>Other One
Similar but longer, just guitars & effects – nice eerie transition to a good Other One. The Spanish Jam has all but dissolved into Space lately. 
 
5/30/92
Space>Spanish Jam (5:55)>Miracle
A new decade, new sounds – full of MIDI effects; bass, keyboards & random drums join in; Vince has a different touch on synth; Garcia (with trumpet sound) is very distant –the sound is disorienting, but they get into it for a while before the jam breaks up.
 
6/22/92
Space>Spanish Jam (2:38)>Other One (blends into the Other One)
More MIDI (Garcia trumpet) & tinkly keyboard; full band but floaty feel; merges with the Other One. 
 
3/24/93
Space>Spanish Jam (5:00)>GDTRFB
Very similar (full band, Garcia MIDI trumpet, tinkly keys), but a little more solid & punchier; drums back to march beat; comes to a stop. 
 
7/31/94
Space>Spanish Jam (5:50)>Last Time
Full band, more creepy MIDI; dense sound; starts spacy & disorienting, heats up with the drums; Garcia uses a Davis-like trumpet tone; strong for a late-era version. 
 
9/29/94
Space>Spanish Jam (4:35)>Other One
Much quieter, very vague & spacy, mostly without drums; Garcia has a new spooky tone.
 
12/18/94
Space>Spanish Jam (2:25)>Space>Last Time
AUD tape – interlude within Space, kind of a Weir/Lesh/Welnick trio; mostly creepy ambient spaciness without Garcia. 
 
5/21/95 
Space>Spanish Jam (3:38)>Other One
Full band with loud marching drums, prominent synth keyboard; surprisingly strong for the year; good recording helps, but Garcia’s not involved much & barely plays. 
 
6/18/95
Space>Spanish Jam (3:38)>Miracle
Good AUD tape – full band; the last Spanish Jam is a strong one with theremin-style Garcia; reaches an intensity that harks back to ’68. (Some of Garcia’s lines still echo 1/17/68.)
Oddly, the Spanish Jam has been drifting more into ghostly spaciness since ’84, but the final versions in ’95 get back to a rock-band crunch.
 
Timings may vary. The starting points out of Space can be approximate and don’t always match the track marks – the Spanish Jam is often hinted for a while before it’s fully played. I also tended to be strict in not including surrounding jams in the Spanish Jam times.
I may have overlooked a few Spanish Jams – let me know if any are missing! 
 
Oh, and for those of you seeking a ready-made Spanish Jam compilation, this site has you covered:

17 comments:

  1. Here's a post that should have been on the site years ago....sorry for the long wait!

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  2. Long time listener first time caller...

    Fantastic write up. One of the most enjoyable themes they work on but also surprising that it's so sparsely played over 30 years... it feels like there is a Spanish Jam on just about every Dick's and Dave's Picks.

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  3. Another great analysis - thanks, LIA. Although it's become very familiar now, I used to love it in the early days of tape trading when it unexpectedly emerged from a jam. The first version that I ever heard was the Carousel show from 1968 which I probably received in trade around 1973. The show was unlabelled and I remember writing Spanish Jam on the cassette insert. Is that 'inherited memory' or did we all alight on the same name for it? Although I saw the two Rainbow versions in October 1981, if I had to choose, I'd still say the 1968 versions are my favourites - primal Dead, the year I got on the bus.Great stuff!

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    1. I agree that the first Spanish Jams are the best.

      It's hard to say just when "Spanish Jam" became the common name. Some people may have used it when others didn't. For instance, the 1983 Mikel setlists don't include "Spanish Jam," but the 1983 Golden Road setlists do. In 1984, Uli Teute wrote a little article on Dark Star in the UK fanzine "The Music Never Stops" where he noted Spanish Jams. But a 1985 collection of setlists by Gordon Sharpless does not name them. So usage may have been inconsistent, or taken a while to spread. Anyone who still has old tape labels, or the first Deadbase from 1987, can check those.

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  4. You can also hear Weir clearly play the Spanish jam chords in the middle of the 2-13-70 Other One, although the rest of the band do not join in.

    According to my notes, 12-26-80, 5-5-81, 7-11-81, 4-3-87, 5-5-91 all have tiny snippets of Spanish jam although none of them are really full-blown - typically there's a little flirt at the end of a Truckin' or Other One.

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    1. I forgot about 2/13/70 - 11 minutes into the Other One, there's a big climax and then Weir strums the Spanish chords, but everyone ignores him so he moves on. Just ten seconds, a blink & miss it moment.

      4/3/87 has a Garcia/Weir duet in Space which is very much in the Spanish vein.

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  5. No direct Dead connection but another Sketches Of Spain story: Levon Helm mentioned in his book that the Band asked Miles Davis to open for them at Hollywood Bowl in 1970 because they were fans of the album. They were surprised at how different his music sounded that night.

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    1. Phil Lesh said he hadn't heard Bitches Brew when Miles opened for the Dead in April 1970. It had just been released that March, so the shows would have been quite a surprise for him. In any case, only Garcia was brave enough to approach Miles afterwards and talk about how much he liked his albums.

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    2. I recall Miles saying that he liked Jerry and Dead, in his autobiography.

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  6. Great stuff! 6/23/74 was also on So Many Roads and 7/29/74 also on 30 Days of Dead 2011.

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  7. The Dead's Spanish Jam is played in E (moving to F > G and back down to E....in general terms). This is very typical of how guitarists play Malaguena.

    It's interesting that Quicksilver perhaps modeled their version (Calvary) on the Jefferson Airplane's White Rabbit.
    Both of those songs play the similar progression as Spanish Jam, but in F#. The F# goes to G, then to A, etc.

    Obviously Calvary and White Rabbit are very different compositions, but they do share the "F# > G > A" theme.

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  8. That's funny you describe the 7/19/74 transition into Eyes as awkward, that's one of my favorite moments! Eyes was either coming from a cold start or out of a spacier moment in that era, I find it neat that they jammed straight into it, sounds smooth to me. But that tape has godlike status with me, it's a favorite Eyes for the year.

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    1. Weir starts Eyes as the Spanish Jam winds up, and it takes a few moments for everyone to join him. But I admit, it's not that awkward, they're pros!

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  9. per nedbase, on 06-23-74, Ned Lagin plays on Fender Rhodes 88 electric piano.

    I-) ihor

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    1. Maybe he does play in the second set, but if so I don't think he was recorded. I believe it's just Keith that we hear on the Rhodes.

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  10. After the White Rabbit tease on 8/15/71, Lesh asks where the guy requesting it is from. The most obnoxious White Rabbit requester (the "play White Rabbit goddammit!" guy they keep imitating) was at a show in New Orleans - Weir explains, "He was drunk on beer and he was hollering that all afternoon."

    The actual show was the 9/1/69 New Orleans Pop Festival. One Archive commenter who was there recalls, "During the Jefferson Airplane's set, some drunks up front kept yelling "White Rabbit," so of course, they didn't play it. These guys kept yelling for the song while the Grateful Dead set up and well into their set. Jerry said, "It's not our song," and Bob suggested that they listen to the record when they got home. The drunks kept on yelling, and other people in the audience were throwing stuff at them to get them to shut up."
    Unfortunately this isn't apparent on the tape.

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