“If the Shoe Fits” debuted on 6/9/94 and “Childhood’s End” on 7/20/94 – the last two original Grateful Dead songs to enter the live repertoire, both written and sung by Phil Lesh.
If you want to get to know these songs, and possibly come to love them, these are definitely the droids you’re looking for.
I think I’ve checked out all circulating soundboards and audience recordings, and these two soundboard performances/recordings were the giant, obvious needles in the archive haystack. (It's conceivable that one or both of these made it into The Dead's periodic free single-song download series, but I have no complete list of those downloads. 10/1/94 is the only complete concert The Dead have released from that year.)
This is part of my ongoing project to find outstanding versions of all The Dead’s final compositions, which started with this March 1994 anthology.
- If the Shoe Fits (10/19/94)
- Childhood’s End (10/3/94)
- If the Shoe Fits (8/3/94 audience recording, Japanese edition bonus track)
As I understand it, Lesh (and perhaps the others) felt that new songs would help fuel Garcia engagement in a period when Jerry was headed in the same direction as in the mid-1980s, when his drugged-out-bad-health put him in a coma that he narrowly survived – living on to drive the 1989-onward renaissance of the band. In the 1995 remake, Jerry died. The big musical difference between those two episodes is that everyone else in the band had their shit together in 1994, whereas the whole band was a mess in 1986.
My general take on Welnick Dead, so far, is that they are not to be dismissed – a band that had stopped depending on Garcia’s leadership to determine the musical outcome, but who were always therefore also ready when Garcia was feeling spry. Weir has said something to that effect. And when Garcia was feeling spry, it was just as you would wish it to be.
“Shoe Fits” is a rocker that The Dead wore very comfortably on a number of occasions, Lesh singing an uncharacteristically aggressive lyric effectively. “Childhood’s End” was harder for The Dead to navigate, a twisty second cousin to “Unbroken Chain.”