The twenty smoothest Grateful Dead transitions

Categories: Lists

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One of the things that made the Grateful Dead so special was its ability to flawlessly transition from one song into the next, often taking the audience, as well as band members, completely by surprise. Masters of improvisation, these musicians had such great non-verbal communication on stage that they could follow any change and instantly fall into places. These are the twenty smoothest transitions they played through the years.

See also: The ten biggest jam-band scene stereotypes

20. "Lazy Lightnin'" > "Supplication"
The Mosque - Barton Hall, Ithaca, NY, 5/8/77

This is a popular transition played through the years. This version is a particular highlight, as Bobby's vocals are completely on, and the beat hitting in this sequence is total high energy.

19. "Lost Sailor" > "Saint of Circumstance"
Frost Amphitheatre - Palo Alto, California,10/10/82

Bob Weir's especially on at this show, and his vocals at the end of "Lost Sailor" are fantastic; he's giving it his all as the melody of "Saint of Circumstance" comes in perfectly over it, seamlessly transitioning between the two.

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18. "Playing in the Band" > "Iko Iko"
Zoo Amphitheatre, Oklahoma City, OK, 8/1/82

This "Playing in the Band" goes into an eerie and, at times, dissonant jam, with Jerry throwing down some major chords and whipping the band right into a version of "Iko Iko" that quickly turns this into a funky dance party.

17. "Goin' Down the Road Feelin' Bad" > "Cold Rain and Snow"
Fillmore East - New York, New York, 4/29/71

Superb playing starting with "Alligator," this jam coming out of "Goin' Down the Road Feelin' Bad" is delicate, as Phil Lesh hits a few bass notes, and just like that, the vocals for "Cold Rain and Snow" start, effortlessly bringing the rest of the band in.

16. "Drums" > "Space"
Nassau Coliseum - Uniondale, New York, 3/29/90

This segment, unique to the Grateful Dead, gives the drummers a chance to really breathe while the rest of the band takes a break, and vice versa. Things can get very creative in the sometimes misunderstood "Drums">"Space" portion of the show, and this version with Branford Marsalis on saxophone has an extra level of weirdness.



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22 comments
Jef RV
Jef RV

5-19-77, Fox Theatre Atlanta, the transition from Playin' into Uncle John's is mighty impressive.

Scott Raile
Scott Raile

"Truckin'" into "Nobody's Fault" was always super smooth in 1973.

Doug Cannon
Doug Cannon

Best Dead transition is the transition to the music stopping completely

Clayton Christie
Clayton Christie

Just a few of my favs that were left off. Solid list though!

Jt Colfax
Jt Colfax

John Rogers and by the way...whatever you sent me didn't work

Barney Dunwell
Barney Dunwell

9.13.93 Philly Spectrum Scarlet > Fire...give it a listen and get back to me. It's magic

Bob Knudsen
Bob Knudsen

None, they just keep following it around long after it burns out.

Bob Knudsen
Bob Knudsen

How many Deadheads does it take to change a lightbulb?

Jean Mott
Jean Mott

It is a decision worthy of King Solomon. I admire his decision and one day his daughter will know how much love it took to make the decision.

freshbakin
freshbakin

@Doug Cannon very original. Do you have a newsletter or something I can subscribe to?

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