Tomorrow Never Knows 1992-1993

The Grateful Dead played The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows” a dozen times, but it was always brief, with only a minute or so of open playing. With the big beat and the drones, you’d think they would have stretched it out. 

For this post, I’ve chosen my two favorite versions - the debut and the third from last one. The 5/92 debut definitely has the heft of a recently-rehearsed song, while the 5/93 version has the most elaborate, continuous Garcia lead of any of them.

Additionally, I’ve edited pieces of eight other performances into an approximation of the bigger jam that could have been. It combines three intros, eight instrumental breaks, one verse, and two conclusions. The rock steady tempo of the drummers from show to show makes this mix possible. 

19-minute mp3 mix here

  • Tomorrow Never Knows (5/21/93) (5:25)
  • Tomorrow Never Knows (1992-1993 mix of 8 versions) (9:16)
  • Tomorrow Never Knows (5/19/92 – debut) (3:58)

Cover art by Emek.

Edited version includes this sequence of bits, all just the instrumental breaks between the two verses, except as noted:  

  • 6/20/92 intro 
  • 12/17/92 intro 
  • 12/17/92 
  • 6/6/92 
  • 7/1/92 
  • 3/21/93 
  • 3/21/93 intro 
  • 6/20/92 
  • 6/14/92 
  • 9/20/93 
  • 5/31/92 w/verse & conclusion 
  • 9/20/93 conclusion

Shortlist: March 23, 1995 - Charlotte, NC (w/Hornsby on grand piano)

Bruce Hornsby joined The Grateful Dead on grand piano for this whole concert. It appears to be the first time he’d played anything but accordion with the band in almost exactly three years (March 24, 1992). He would go on to play piano with them two more times, in late June 1995.

Hornsby prompts some exceptional collective playing in this show, with a second set that began with so much extended material that Drums > Space happened close to the end of the set. 

The second set opener, “Scarlet Begonias,” was a mess, starting with major microphone problems for Garcia and never tightening up. However, once the jam arrives, huge momentum is built, which rolls through the next three songs. 

The group’s excitement over “Fire on the Mountain” leads to one of the most exciting “Corrinas” I’ve heard. Everyone paints outside the lines in wild syncopation. The enthusiasm derails the song itself a little bit, but the song is almost beside the point, and the groove spills seamlessly into “Matilda” to continue for almost another ten minutes. (The Dead played “Matilda” only six times, all but once out of “Corrina.” Four of those performances happened within two weeks, this being the second one of those.) 

The spirit of improvisation also produced two great, sustained pieces of music during “Space,” one fierce and one gentle.

In addition to the exciting jammy material, Hornsby was on hand to contribute to the best performance of “Unbroken Chain” (there were only 10) and very good versions of “Days Between” and “So Many Roads.”

90-minute mp3 mix here

  • Cold Rain and Snow (6:49)
  • Scarlet Jam > Fire on the Mountain > (18:48)
  • Corrina > (14:04)
  • Matilda > Hornsby/Drums Jam (9:39)
  • Hornsby/Weir Jam > Jam (4:23)
  • Space Jam > (5:52)
  • Days Between (10:59)
  • Unbroken Chain (6:22)
  • Loser (7:07)
  • So Many Roads (7:24)