Playing Dead: Grateful Dead Covers Spotify Playlist


Next month, the long awaited, long in the making massive Day Of The Dead Grateful Dead tribute album curated by The National’s Aaron and Bryce Dessner will be issued by 4AD. So far five tracks have been shared from the multi-disc compilation: The War On Drugs’ version of the “Touch Of Grey,” Phosphorescent and Jenny Lewis backed by the house band featuring 4/5ths of The National covering “Sugaree,” Bruce Hornsby and DeYarmond Edison on “Black Muddy River,” Courtney Barnett’s rendition of “New Speedway Boogie” and The National’s take on “Morning Dew.” As those tracks indicate, covering the Grateful Dead often produces remarkably memorable recordings, many of which are the focus of this week’s Saturday Stream Spotify Playlist.

The music created by the Grateful Dead has influenced many artists both within and outside of the jam scene they helped establish. Last year JamBase presented the Songs Of Their Own video series in which 50 artists covered 50 different original Dead compositions, released in succession in the days leading up to the final Fare Thee Well celebratory concert at Soldier Field in Chicago on July 5. With the pending release of 59 new tracks making up the hefty Day Of The Dead box set, the Playing Dead playlist below gives a taste of how artists have been interpreting the legendary band’s songbook for decades.

Following in the construction of Day Of The Dead and breaking with Saturday Stream tendency to avoid the same song appearing more than once on a playlist, the set below does offer multiple renditions of the same song. The vast majority of songs are Grateful Dead originals, but for completeness sake Greensky Bluegrass’ “I Know You Rider” segued out of “China Cat Sunflower” was included, as are a handful of tracks that incorporate the performing artist’s original, like in the case of Bruce Hornsby’s “Mandolin Rain” pairing with “Black Muddy River.” It’s 61 tracks long including the five Day Of The Dead cuts and can be streamed below: