The Grateful Dead’s Set List Secrets Revealed

The code is cracked.

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The Dead wrapped up their first tour in five years this month, busting out a ton of material along the way. Many remarked that this tour featured some of the best Dead set lists in decades.

Reading the comments from ardent fans on the band’s homepage,, has been a lot of fun. Deadheads are natural historians; they know more about the band than they do their own mothers.

Basically, there are two camps — those who think the band should hang it up, and those who feel the Dead are still in fine form, despite the absence of Jerry Garcia.

There are two comments in particular we wanted to share with you, both from a review of the Dead’s stop in Denver. One is typical of the vitriol you can find from certain disappointed Heads. The other cracks the code behind the Dead’s set list choices, and it’s not what you might expect.

To wit:

On May 7th, 2009 COOPER3737-HEAD said:

After decades of calculating percentages for predictive set-lists I almost gave this tour up. Finally, after the Denver show tonight my computer spit out something i never could of figured out but my 5 year old niece would of. Its ALPHABETICAL this tour – with frequency as the usual variable.. Let me explain from the Denver show…

****The ONLY played 1 time before Denver list included : Loser, Lost Sailor, Me and My Uncle, Not Fade Away – these songs were in alphabetical order in the list of only 1 time played songs this tour…

****The ONLY played 2 times before Denver list included : Casey Jones, Crazy Fingers, Easy Wind, Feel Like a Stranger, King Solomon’s Marbles – these songs were ALSO in alphabetical order in the list of only 2 time played songs this tour…

****Add the Saint to the Lost Sailor(of course) and what’s next on the Alphabetical List of 1 time songers – The Weight.

****Finally we get 3 first timers China Doll, Deep Elem, and Whisky

LA is up for grabs for songs that haven’t emerged yet – (Dylan songs remain(multiple), BTW, and a number of Jerry’s songs that Weir has played for 14 years.) But I have a real cool color coded spoiler sheet that i will have in hand at the Forum and Shoreline shows. I hope people start showing more love to the boys(Bobby in particular).

Enjoy the music regardless of the tempo! Lets not forget the endless Lazy Rivers, Eternity, Samba’s and Corina’s the band used to put us through! Common – this could be the end of this carnation of a band that we have all grown up with and loved for the last 40,30,20,10 years.

No one is thinking this band is SMOKING hot, on fire, blowing away anything they have ever done! Phil is 69, Bobby is 61 and Mickey and Billy add up to 127 years old! They are putting on some crazy sets – and we should all be enjoying them or staying home listening to your favorite shows available on-line! On thing i know from first hand – the soundboards sound REAL good even if the shows sounded not so hot on the floor (Rosemont/Allstate especially). LA is going to be great – and the 6 hour ride to Shoreline for Mothers Day is gonna be worth every minute! Enjoy the show – and stop hating!

Peace to all my brothers and sisters!
– – –
On May 7th, 2009 so_many_roads said:

A flat, lifeless, incongruent hodge-podge of virtually random, “B”-list songs plucked from violently shifting incongruent Grateful Dead eras.
It’s the Bob Weir prime-time TV rock ‘n roll star show, featuring a self-absorbed Bob Weir.
Chicago was pathetic. It was painfully obvious that Phil wanted nothing, at all, to do with Weir. Notice Phil’s dismissal of singing final verse, when offered by Weir, on Brokedown. Notice Lesh’s intentional desire to stay as far away from Weir as possible during show-ending bow. Phil was correct with the ’05 Phil & Friends…get Trey to (1) Play Rhythm 6-string; (2) boost call-and-response for 6-string leads; and (3) Sing. Remove Weir and the whole problem is resolved.
Greensboro & Charlottesville had the slinky, sinuous group-mind extended jams between coherent & applicable songs…all bearing the stamp of Phil’s sense of music and improvisation. No Wonder So Many People Were Angry And Upset.


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  1. Haters will hate…. Lovers will love… but the wheel keeps on spinning. I am grateful to see and hear the hodgepodge welcome to the world.

    “Someone has to do something, Its just a damn shame it has to be us.” -Jerry Garcia

  2. I must have missed the disunity at Albany. They Boys played well, not as great a show as it appears on paper, but wonderful to see them none the less. They were well prepared and did a damn good show. No negatives to report between Phil and Bobby, that were noticable. Rock on and enjoy the time together ;^)

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