Remembering Brent Mydland: Brent Steals ‘Man Smart (Woman Smarter)’ Spotlight


Keyboardist Brent Mydland breathed new life into the Grateful Dead when he joined the band in 1979. Mydland died at the way-too-young age of 37 on this date in 1990 but his music will live on forever. A highlight of Brent’s tenure in the Dead took place on July 4, 1989 as Mydland brought the crowd and his band mates to a frenzy during an all-time version of “Man Smart (Woman Smarter).”

Brent Mydland was born on October 21, 1952 in Munich, Germany. One year later, Mydland moved with his family to Concord, California where at age 6 he started playing piano. He formed the band Silver shortly after graduating Liberty High School and the group scored themselves a major label deal. Mydland went on to join Bob Weir‘s solo band Bobby & The Midnites and was the Grateful Dead’s choice to replace Keith Godchaux when personal issues led the group to part ways with Keith and his wife Donna.

The Brent Mydland era of the Grateful Dead started on April 22, 1979 and he was the longest tenured keyboardist in the band’s history. Not only was he an extremely talented instrumentalist, he also had a powerful and distinctive voice and was a strong songwriter. “Blow Away,” “I Will Take You Home” and “Maybe You Know” were among the originals he contributed to the Dead’s repertoire, while Mydland led the band on such covers as Traffic’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and The Meters’ “Hey Pocky A-Way.”

Brent stepped up to sing a verse of the Dead’s rendition of “Man Smart (Woman Smarter)” on July 4, 1989 at Rich Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. The version started in typical fashion with Weir singing the first stanza and chorus of the calypso standard. Mydland then caught his band mates’ attention and pointed at himself before stepping into the spotlight to lead the, “Little boy sit on the corner and cry” verse. Guitarist Jerry Garcia had a shit-eating grin as Brent delivered the vocals with passion and fervor. The normally staid Garcia began dancing around and clearly enjoyed the moment.

Watch the Grateful Dead’s performance of “Man Smart (Woman Smarter)” from July 4, 1989 below: