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So Many Roads: Known Deadheads, Non-Deadheads and Closet Deadheads Share Their Picks (2005)

Back in August 2005, we asked a variety of guitar players to identify which song they would like to perform with the group, if given an opportunity. We received some fascinating responses from known Deadheads, non-Deadheads and closet Deadheads alike

One possible alternative future of the Grateful Dead following the passing of Jerry Garcia, saw the group taking it on the road and possibly even to the studio with a revolving chair of guitarists. As a tribute to Garcia's lasting legacy, we asked a cross-section of our favorite musicians to choose which song they'd perform if they were granted such an opportunity. In general, we tried to pick axe-men not usually associated with the Dead, though we couldn't help but throw in some of Garcia's biggest admirers.

Jim James (My Morning Jacket):
I’d do "Candyman," there’s something about that song that’s so awesome. I’m more a fan of the real structured Grateful Dead songs, the acoustic Grateful Dead songs. On "Candyman," it’s just like all the harmonies and all the amazing guitar parts and the lyrics…the whole thing. I’d do that or "Brown Eyed Women." I’m not even that huge of a Dead fan, but there’s just something about Garcia that was so sweet and so awesome. The first time I ever heard him was on pedal steel on Teach Your Children" pedal steel, I think, is one of God’s gifts to people. I can sit there and listen to that song over and over and over and it makes me want to have kids and get married and cry. Just the way he emoted was to me more important than any song that he wrote or anything in particular. It was just his force and I think that’s why people loved him so much. There was just something about him that was insanely magical

Jon Gutwillig (the Disco Biscuits):
"Slipknot." It sounds like one of the more difficult Dead tunes to play, and the most fun. Plus, we all loved the vocal parts. It was on Blues For Allah, which is my favorite Dead album."

A.C. Newman (New Pornographers):
I would play the solo on, if memory serves me, the Louisville, July 17th, 87 live version of "Not Fade Away". Some things you can only explain with your guitar.

Chuck Garvey (moe.):
That’s a tough one! I think I would love to do the whole "Terrapin" suite. Is that cheating? Is "Lady With a Fan" a song unto itself? I really love the epic proportions, symphonic heaviness and cinematic scope of this music. It gets me fired up. American Beauty is my favorite album (although Reckoning is a close second). The studio showed a side of this band that always existed, yet rarely came to full glory. I love the vocals, dry production and the overall feel of this period – maybe it’s nostalgia, maybe It’s only because I have brought it on my last three road trips!

Brad Barr (The Slip):
"New Speedway Boogie," cause it’s a badass song; or "Stella Blue," because it makes my throat tingle.

Chan Kinchla (Blues Traveler):
"Uncle Johns Band," the Workingman’s Dead acoustic version. From the best Dead album period. In a moment I am back in high school, shirt off, walking through a sultry swirling parking lot on my fourth show in a row exhausted and flying. It also reminds me of my parents from whose record collection I stole Workingman’s Dead.

Brian Stoltz (funky Meters, PBS):
I’d have to pick "Shakedown Street." Its just so funky. I always had it in my mind to record that songI have a take on it which is done real New Orleans-style. It’s real swanky and funky. I have a weird story about the night Jerry died too. A local news channel called to interview me since he knew we were friends and had played together. When they came over the guy asked if I had any tapes of one of the times I jammed with the Dead. I searched my row of cassettes and pulled out this tape from Oakland Coliseum in ’88 or something. I put it on and it happened to be right in the middle of "Knocking on Heaven’s Door." It was really spooky.

Jamie McLean (Dirty Dozen Brass Band):
Musically "Help">"Slipknot">"Franklins Tower" would be my pick. The diminished runs that Jerry plays throughout "Slipknot" are unlike anything else in the song book. Beautiful, complex, inter-weaving and pure Garcia. There is room to blow over controlled chaos in "Slipknot" as well as the jammy, sunshiney "Franklins Tower." Now if I were to sing something….too many beautifully haunting ballads to choose from.

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