Grateful Dead: The Dead Play The Beatles (1983-1995)

This mix includes a version of every Beatles song the Grateful Dead played (1983-1995). All selections are unreleased, except “Hey Jude,” and all are from soundboard sources.

The Dead’s engagement with The Beatles’ catalogue was a minor part of the long strange trip: eleven songs, some played only once, most only a handful of times. 

Dead-play-Beatles has a justifiably bad reputation. The songs are often unlikely stretches for the singers, and the band didn’t master the playing of most of them. They’d only hang around for a hot minute, and/or they’d pop up, sloppily, once in a while. 

Fortunately, there’s a charming, very good, or great performance of every song – and they add up to a very enjoyable, all-Beatles Dead set. More on the selections below the track list. 

68-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Why Don’t We Do It In the Road? (4/13/85)
  • Day Tripper (6/25/85)
  • Revolution (10/17/83)
  • Tomorrow Never Knows (5/21/93)
  • Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds (3/17/95, slight edit)
  • It’s All Too Much (3/18/95)
  • Rain (3/18/95)
  • I Want to Tell You (10/15/94)
  • Tomorrow Never Knows (8-version jam edit, 1992-1993)
  • Hey Jude (3/22/90, edit)
  • Get Back (1/28/87)
  • Blackbird (7/17/88, slight edit)

Performance History and Selection Notes

Why Don’t We Do It In the Road?

Played seven times, June 1984-March 1986

Day Tripper

Played five times, December 1984-August 1985

Revolution

Played eleven times, October 1983-March 1990. Four performances in October 1983, two in October 1984, three across 1985, and two in March 1990. The second performance is featured on this mix.

Tomorrow Never Knows

Played twelve times, May 1992-November 1994. This mix includes the next-to-last version, plus a long, simulated jam of the song constructed from eight other versions.

Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds

Played 19 times, March 1993-June 1995. The version on this mix is by far the longest, the only one featuring an instrumental build-up. I edited out five seconds of uncertainty.

It’s All Too Much

Played six times, March 1995-July 1995. The version here is the debut.

Rain

Played twenty times, December 1992-June 1995. The band couldn’t sing this song very well, but in 1995 they played it heavier and mixed it thicker, which helps. 

I Want to Tell You

Played seven times, July 1994-May 1995. The version included contains the worst vocal flub of the mix - one whole mumbled line. 

Hey Jude

Aside from some 1969 stabs, the Dead restricted their playing of this song to a “Hey Jude Finale,” which followed “Dear Mr. Fantasy” some 30 times, 1985-1990. Except… one night in March 1990, they preceded “Fantasy” with a sweet little sketch of the song itself. That’s the version on this mix, with “Fantasy” removed, so the song and the finale are joined. 

Get Back

Played only once, in 1987. It’s a stretch for Bobby’s voice, but on the whole, really great.

Blackbird

Played twice in the summer of 1988. I saw the first performance, which was just a spontaneous goof, I think - fun to behold, but terrible as a performance. The second version strikes me as a fairly serious attempt to play it correctly, with Bobby being a vocal bandleader at a couple of points. I edited out the most extreme gaff, which I think makes the whole thing more lovable, despite remaining bumps.

Cover art: Alan Aldridge, detail from “Tomorrow Never Knows,” published in The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics.

13 responses
Hi...when I click the link to access this, it tells me the link does not exist. Could I please have the correct link? Thanks!
Tripp, sorry. I took the mix down to fix something. Back up now!
Thanks!
No That Would be Something? I might prefer it to all of these, tho technically not a Beatles tune. Coulda been a nice bonus cut. Thanks much!
Mitch, that is a good call! I would have, if I'd though of it. A couple of my favorite versions of TWBS appear on previous mixes.
Hey...now the .zip won't seem to open. Not sure if it's an error on my end, or not. I hate to be a pest, but would you check it, please? Thanks!
Tripp, I don't have a problem when I try it.
Same here, maybe try Google drive?
Try now. Direct link to uncompressed folder.
Very nice! Big thanks from all us Beatle fans who now know precisely "what it's like to be Dead." Lotta great stuff here on the blog, thanks for all your efforts!
Ed - har har - and glad this was a good, brief, encounter for you!
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