Grateful Dead: “Playing in the Band”

ALBUM: Grateful Dead (Skull and Roses), Bob Weir’s Ace and Mickey Hart’s Rolling Thunder

YEARS: 1971, 1972 and 1972

WRITERS: Bob Weir and Robert Hunter (Mickey Hart also gets credit on his album, where the song is performed inside “The Main Ten”)

Not released as a single by the Dead.

“Playing in the Band” is a Grateful Dead classic that the band and two of its individual members all released versions of in under two years. The version on Bob Weir’s Ace, on which he’s backed by The Dead minus Mickey Hart, became a rock radio staple. Hart said why the song is a favorite of his. “Well, I wrote it, so it’s really dear to me, and that summed it up for me in a certain part of my time there, you know. That was a good song. That song is a good vehicle for going other places. That’s why it’s so popular, because you can open the belly of it up and go anywhere, and just ride the pulse and re-establish the ones wherever you find them. I love that song.”

Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter celebrates his 76th birthday today (June 23rd).


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