‘Morning Dew’ Upsets ‘I Know You Rider’ To Make Grateful Dead Covers Tournament Final Four

“Dear Mr. Fantasy” also continued its cinderella story by making it to the semi-finals.

By Andy Kahn Mar 20, 2023 8:06 am PDT

Only four songs remain in competition to be named champion of JamBase’s 2023 March Madness Top Grateful Dead Covers Tournament. After the opening round of 16 was whittled down to the Elite 8, voting for the Final Four is currently underway.

An upset-filled opening round led to hotly contested Elite 8 that saw the No. 2 seed “I Know You Rider” easily beaten by the 10th seed “Morning Dew,” with the Bonnie Dobson cover earning 58% of the vote. Another Elite 8 matchup was the 13th seed “Dear Mr. Fantasy” continuing its cinderella story by blowing out the 12th seed “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue.”

The No. 1 overall “Me And My Uncle” just barely edged out “Samson & Delilah” to make it into the Final Four. The third seed “Not Fade Away”/”Going Down The Road Feelin’ Bad” continued its dominating ways by walloping “Cold Rain And Snow” to secure the other Final Four slot.

2023 Grateful Dead Covers Tournament
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As a reminder, this year’s March Madness Covers Tournament features songs covered by the Grateful Dead going head-to-head in a typical single-elimination tournament. The Team JamBase Tournament Selection Committee chose the 16 covers based on several criteria. Seeding was ranked by the number of times each song was performed in concert by the Dead, with the most played getting the No. 1 seed.

The selection process assured that band members Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, Phil Lesh, Donna Jean Godchaux, Brent Mydland and Vince Welnick each sang lead on at least one song. Along with varied lead singers, with the exception of the all-encompassing “Traditional” credit, no songwriter was covered more than once. In nearly every instance, the selected songs were ones not just covered by the Grateful Dead but that became fully engrained in the band’s live repertoire.

Final Four voting is open between now and 11:59 p.m. PT on Sunday night (March 26).

Now Go Vote On Live Music!

Final Four

1. Me And My Uncle vs. 13. Dear Mr. Fantasy

1. Me And My Uncle – John Philips

  • Original Artist/Songwriter: John Philips
  • Grateful Dead Live Performances: 638
  • Lead Singer: Bob Weir
  • First Time Played: November 29, 1966
  • Last Time Played: July 6, 1995

Notes: Sung by Bob Weir, “Me And My Uncle” was the song covered most frequently by the Grateful Dead. Written by the notorious John Philips of The Mamas & The Papas, the mythology around the song is that he spontaneously wrote it during a drunken jam session and only realized he was its composer when Judy Collins, who heard the original drunken performance, included it on a 1964 live album. The mythology surrounding the genesis of the song has been disputed over the years, with contradictory details about when and where it might have happened.

Collins recently recalled the circumstances of her learning the song from Philips in New York City during her first acid trip in an interview with Jesse Jarnow for the Good Ol’ Grateful Deadcast podcast. Jarnow also investigated Bob Weir’s claim that “he learned the song from ‘a hippie named Curly Jim.’” Weir was referring to Curly Jim Stalarow, who was close with the Grateful Dead and their extended family and claimed to have been taught the song directly by Philips (learn more about Curly Jim from Jarnow here).

Weir brought it to the Grateful Dead’s live repertoire in November 1966. They played it three times in 1967 but then not at all in 1968. Once it came back in 1969, mostly remained in regular rotation — it was not played in 1976 — while becoming the most-played cover song in the band’s canon. The recording above comes from the Dead’s April 24, 1978 concert in Bloomington, Illinois, which was preceded by a brief “Stayin’ Alive” tease.


13. Dear Mr. Fantasy – Traffic

  • Original Artist/Songwriter: Traffic
  • Lead Singer: Brent Mydland
  • Grateful Dead Live Performances: 60
  • First Time Played: June 14, 1984
  • Last Time Played: July 21, 1990

Notes: Brent Mydland was the Grateful Dead’s longest-tenured keyboardist, whose contributions included not just an ever-growing array of keyboards that incorporated new sounds but also a distinct and soulful singing voice. Mydland’s harmonizing with Garcia and Weir enhanced many of the band’s classic songs. Mydland also wrote and sang lead on several original songs, many of which were co-written with Weir’s longtime lyrical writing partner John Perry Barlow. Along with harmonizing and singing lead on his originals, Mydland was the primary singer of just a few covers, including “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” which appeared on Traffic’s 1967 album, Mr. Fantasy. Written by Traffic’s Jim Capaldi, Steve Winwood and Chris Wood, a nearly 11-minute version was recorded by the British psychedelic rockers for their 1971 live album, Welcome To The Canteen.

“In June 1984, the Grateful Dead performed ‘Dear Mr. Fantasy’ for the first time, at Red Rocks,” Dead archivist David Lemieux explained. “A year later, also at Red Rocks, they added Dear Mr. Fantasy by including the Hey Jude coda to the Traffic classic. And then we waited. Finally, in winter 1988, the Dead brought back Hey Jude, again attached to Fantasy, and it would remain this way for a couple of years, until Brent left the building in July 1990.” Though the Dead stopped playing “Dear Mr. Fantasy” after Mydland’s untimely death, Garcia sat-in on performances of “Dear Mr. Fantasy” when Traffic opened for the Dead in 1994. The above video comes from the Grateful Dead’s July 2, 1989 concert at Foxboro Stadium.

Which cover should go on to the championship: Me And My Uncle or Dear Mr. Fantasy?

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3. Not Fade Away/GDTRFB vs. 10. Morning Dew

3. Not Fade Away – Buddy Holly / Goin’ Down The Road Feelin’ Bad – Trad.

  • Original Artist/Songwriter: Buddy Holly / Traditional
  • Lead Singer: All / Jerry Garcia
  • Grateful Dead Live Performances: 550 / 301
  • First Time Played: February 19, 1969 / October 11, 1970
  • Last Time Played: July 5, 1995 / July 5, 1995

Notes: The familiar Bo Diddley beat that anchors Buddy Holly & The Crickets’ proto-rock song “Not Fade Away” can still be heard in the parking lots at concerts held by Dead & Company, Phil & Friends and other Dead-adjacent bands. The song’s “You know our love will not fade away” refrain became a way for the band and its devoted audience to share the mutually appreciative experience together. Its frequent encore/end of the second set appearance often led to the audience continuing to sing well after the band left the stage. The traditional “Goin’ Down The Road Feelin’ Bad” was regularly the meat of an “NFA” sandwich as there were 120 instances of “NFA” > “GDTRFB” between 1970 and 1983. “Not Fade Away” was released in 1957 as the B-side of Holly’s single “Oh, Boy!” and appeared on the album The “Chirping” Crickets, which came that same year. The Rolling Stones’ 1964 cover of “Not Fade Away” was the band’s first single in the United States and among their earliest hit records.

Much like the traditional “I Know You Rider,” the traditional “Goin’ Down The Road Feelin’ Bad” has a rich history and has been performed under different titles and with different lyrics by numerous musicians over the past 100+ years. A 1923 recording of “Lonesome Road Blues” by Appalachian musician Henry Whitter is believed to be the earliest known recording of what is now commonly called “Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad.”

Above is the final track on the Dead’s 1971 live album, Skull & Roses, featuring “NFA” > “GDTRFB” from their show at New York City’s Manhattan Center on April 5, 1971.


10. Morning Dew – Bonnie Dobson

  • Original Artist/Songwriter: Bonnie Dobson
  • Lead Singer: Jerry Garcia
  • Grateful Dead Live Performances: 278
  • First Time Played: March 18, 1967
  • Last Time Played: June 21, 1995
  • Notes: Toronto native Bonnie Dobson wrote “Morning Dew” and recorded it for her 1962 album, At Folk City. Folk singer Fred Neil recorded the song with Vince Martin for their 1964 album, Tear Down The Walls. In 1966, Neil performed with members of The Buzzy Linhart Trio and participated in regular jam sessions at the loft of the group’s drummer Serge Katzan on the Lower East Side of New York City. Among the others believed to have attended the loft jam sessions include Mississippi John Hurt, Donovan, David Crosby, Gram Parsons and Jerry Garcia.

    According to longtime Grateful Dead publicist Dennis McNally in his book, Long Strange Trip, it was Laird Grant — Garcia’s childhood friend and an among the earliest members of the band’s crew — who in 1966 introduced Garcia to Neil’s version of “Morning Dew.” Soon after Garcia and the Dead were mesmerizing audiences with powerful performances of the poignant song. Above is another stellar version of “Morning Dew” from the highly regarded May 8, 1977, Dead show at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

Which cover should go on to the championship: NFA/GDTRFB or Morning Dew?

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[Many thanks to Jerrybase.com, Whitegum.com, Deaddisc.com, Good Ol’ Grateful Deadcast and Archive.org for data, media, song information and other resources.]

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