Watch Grateful Dead Give Flight To ‘Bird Song’ In 1983: Pro-Shot Video
See the Grateful Dead go “way out there” on the staple.
By Nate Todd Jan 12, 2023 • 2:56 pm PST
The Grateful Dead released pro-shot video of “Bird Song” as the latest in their All The Years Live series. The footage is from GD’s December 28, 1983 performance at the San Francisco Civic Center.
The Grateful Dead debuted “Bird Song” on February 19, 1971 during the famed ‘71 run at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York. The night before (2/18/71) saw the band unveiling a number of classics: “Bertha,” “Wharf Rat,” “Loser,” “Playing In The Band” and “Greatest Story Ever Told.” “Bird Song’s” debut came the next night alongside “Deal.” “Bird Song” never appeared on a Grateful Dead studio album but instead made it’s studio premiere on Jerry Gracia’s 1972 debut solo album, Garcia.
While “Bird Song” was one of the Grateful Dead’s most reliable songs, the way they presented it changed in 1980, as Dead archivist David Lemieux points out in his notes accompanying the video:
“When Bird Song returned to the Grateful Dead’s electric repertoire in November 1980, after its acoustic foray during the Warfield and Radio City runs in September and October of that year, it immediately became the Dead’s biggest first set consistent jamming song, where it could get way out there, usually toward the end of the first set. This one, from the Dead’s first San Francisco New Year’s shows since 12/31/78 at Winterland, soars throughout the San Francisco Civic.”
The 12-minute San Francisco Civic Center version on December 28, 1983 closed out the first set. Watch below: