Grateful Dead: 4th Day of July (1981, 1984, 1986)

Although there’s a lot of Americana and flag-stuff associated with the Grateful Dead, The 4th of July is not strongly associated with the band as a show date.

That’s because, after 1969, the Grateful Dead didn’t play on the 4th of July until 1981. They then played the date repeatedly through the Eighties – 1984, 1986, 1987, 1989 (released), and 1990 - and then, never again.

Deadheads put a lot of weight on the circumstances of shows - venues, cities, seasons, eclipses, New Year’s Eve, etc. So, let’s shake that magic 8-ball of tapes for the 4th of July… all signs point to a real good time.

It turns out the band played a considerable amount of great stuff on 7/4 in the 1980s, captured on soundboards you can inhabit happily. In the mixes below, I’ve curated the 1981, 1984, and 1986 shows, tagging them as separate mixes/albums in the usual SYF “shortlist” way.

Enjoy them separately, or as a 2.75 hour Grateful Dead, Fourth of July soundtrack. 

2.75-hour mp3 download of all three mixes here

7/4/81: Austin, TX (63 minutes)

  • Jack Straw
  • Loser
  • Birdsong >
  • Playin’ in the Band
  • Feel Like a Stranger
  • Not Fade Away
  • One More Fourth of July

7/4/84: Cedar Rapids, IA (70 minutes)

  • Hell in a Bucket >
  • Don’t Ease Me In
  • Help on the Way > Slipknot! >
  • Franklin’s Tower
  • Estimated Prophet >
  • He’s Gone
  • Wharf Rat
  • U.S. Blues

7/4/86: Buffalo, NY (32 minutes)

  • Cold Rain and Snow >
  • Fire on the Mountain
  • The Wheel
  • Goin’ Down the Road, Feelin’ Bad
  • Dupree’s Diamond Blues


“>” above indicates an as-played, GD fast-change in the real-time performance, but not an actual musical segue, other than Help > Slip.

27 responses
Thanks for mining the gold for us. Can’t wait to listen Todd Carey Www.Twitter.Com/ToddCarey Www.Instagram.Com/ToddCarey > On Jun 24, 2022, at 10:24 AM, Posthaven Posts wrote: > > 
Thanks so much for this! I'd never heard this '86 show. The energy here is not something I usually associate with that year, so I'll be looking to make up for my assumptions by spending more time in '86. Appreciate your curatorial efforts as always!
You know how sometimes Jerry plays riffs with clean, low guitar notes, making a unique and somewhat bass-like sound? (For a classic example, in "Touch of Grey" after "I wii-ii-ill...get by..." --the low, clean guitar riff he plays after every time he sings that line). Well, on this "Cold Rain and Snow", his playing sounds SO clean and crisp, it is actually hard for my ears to comprehend! I think this is him reaching a real peak, as far as that particular sound is concerned--he does all these creative mutations of the "Cold Rain" riff, and it just sounds astonishing to me--I actually think it's something groundbreaking in rock and roll. It's just nasty. On this 4th of July, which I've read was a very hot one, Jerry delivered "Cold Rain and Snow" with a guitar that sounded like dry ice! Well-chosen music again, thank you!!!
Ryan, Garcia's crisp, chilly guitar sound on Cold Rain is a fantastic thing.
Thank you for this excellent 3 disc set >> Rider' jam from your '73 shortlist as the B side. Your mixes are the perfect highway music!
My above comment glitched somehow.. I'll try and avoid the formatting this time and see if I can remember it all: "Thank you for this excellent 3 disc set! The highlights were the spin on Saturday Night in Austin and the Wharf Rat in Cedar Rapids. Since the 3rd set is so short, I used it as an A side to a Best of Buffalo CD, and used the entire He's Gone to I Know You Rider Jam from your '73 shortlist as the B side. Your mixes are the perfect highway music!
Great, thanks! Love the early/mid 1980s pre-coma era. Keep it coming! For any Bob Dylan fans out there, I recently made a three-hour compilation of his 4th of July performances between 1991 and 2017. You can check it out here:
Hey, saved this for the 4th, and was not disappointed. Was able to tune in and tune out while all the holiday action was going on around and around. Thanks again for the inspiration and effort you put in to these... always appreciated.
Virago, Jake, and Harko! So sorry to have missed these comments as they came in. Glad this mix worked for all of you, and (Jake) I've bookmarked your Dylan 4th mix.
Oh my goodness. I've followed you on Twitter for quite a while but somehow, FORTUNATELY, just arrived at the actual blog this evening. Just wanted to drop a line and say how pumped I am to listen to the GD stuff (and I'm sure others as well). I can tell already just by your writing that I very likely hear/experience the Dead similar to you. Thanks so much for doing this & providing such a thing for others to enjoy. You are very much appreciated!!
Justin, thanks so much for letting me know of your enthusiasm. I don't get all that many comments via the blog or twitter, but I have the sense that I'm doing a helpful thing.
Just a random shout-out to ya for all the great Dead (and others) posts that you've so passionately and brilliantly pulled together and finessed, mixed and edited. For all the years you've done so. Just the best, man. Truly.
Joshua, thank you! It means a lot to get notes like yours. - John
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