American rock group The Grateful Dead was founded in Palo Alto, California, in 1965. They are renowned for fusing rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, and country music in a distinctive way. They have become an iconic emblem of the 60s and 70s counterculture movement, recognized for their psychedelic sound, improvisational performances, and passionate fan base known as “Deadheads.”
The Grateful Dead performed practically countless songs during their 30-year history. The Dead has probably performed more songs than any other rock band in history, including original songs, cover songs, works-in-progress, teases, full improvisations, and short snippets.
Generally speaking, even the most devoted Grateful Dead fans don’t think there is a “worst” Grateful Dead song. Undoubtedly, some of the songs may not have been as successful as their masterpieces. With the band’s existence of more than 2 decades, they have dropped quite questionable songs over the years. Here are some of them.
Victim or the Crime
“Victim or the Crime” contains a darker, more synthetic sound that was fashionable at the time but not always what listeners expected from the Grateful Dead.
The Dead made the decision to plunge headfirst into the future as MIDI technology unlocked a new universe of technological possibilities. Although it occasionally came out as cheesy and stiff, the band’s use of modern technology resulted in some of their most creative music since their psychedelic days, particularly during the “Drums/Space” sections of live performances.
Keep Your Day Job
It was seen as a departure from the band’s usual style. Fans believed the song to be overly commercial and to lack the spontaneous jamming that characterized the band’s live performances. The Hunter-Garcia song was a sly dig at some of the band’s more… devoted followers.
Keep Your Day Job was viewed as a blunder by the band and a low point in their record, but still remains one of the most played songs.
Samba in The Rain
Vince Welnick required some time to settle into his position in the group. He assumed a position that had historically been “cursed,” as three of the band’s four previous keyboardists Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, Keith Godchaux, and Brent Mydland—had all passed away at a young age.
He put a lot of effort into carrying the load, but this song’s arrangement was lackluster and did nothing.
The late-period Grateful Dead song, which is still a Dead & Co. favorite for encores, has some of Robert Hunter’s most offensive and insulting lyrics Jerry Garcia has ever been permitted to perform. In comparison to the awesomely strong “U.S. Blues,” “Liberty” is a poor replacement.
Wave to the Wind
Although some Grateful Dead fans enjoy the song’s laid-back atmosphere and lyrical themes, others think it strays too far from the group’s distinctive psychedelic sound. By the time he took the stage again, Phil Lesh, who had virtually stopped singing and creating songs during the band’s 1975 tour break, had experienced a severe slump.
One of the Dead’s most challenging songs to listen to is one with a meandering chord pattern and monotone lead vocals by Lesh.
The band member who performs the song often composes the music, and house lyricists Robert Hunter and John Perry Barlow chose the lyrics for the majority of Grateful Dead songs. It makes “Simple Answers”‘ five different songwriters a bit of a bad omen. Five excellent songwriters failed to produce even one clear idea for the song “Simple Answers,” which is a complete disaster.
Picasso Moon is disliked by certain Deadheads for a variety of reasons. Some believe the tune is monotonous and lacks the improvisational spirit that characterizes the Dead’s best work, while still others find the lyrics to be cliché and uninspired. The song “Picasso Moon” by Weir was pure claptrap, especially when he hammed it up when performing it live. The Weir Ham Sandwich is beloved, yet it never worked on ‘Picasso Moon’.
When Push Comes to Shove
Although the combination of Hunter’s lyrics and Garcia’s music produced timeless material, a moment eventually came when both artists were past their creative peak. The worst thing that can happen to a writer is a plunge into sloth, and that is what “When Push Comes to Shove” symbolizes. From the slow bluesy rhythm to some surprisingly surface-level words from Hunter, ‘When Push Comes to Shove’ is a low moment.
We Can Run
The upbeat tone of the song, in the opinion of some fans, did not match the more somber themes found in previous Grateful Dead songs. In comparison to the band’s earlier work, it was panned for having simple lyrics and a lack of musical depth.
Mydland rejuvenated the Dead during a moment when they needed it the most. His musical affinity for Garcia was evident, and his interpretations of songs like “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and “Cassidy” quickly became crowd favorites at concerts. Yet Mydland’s abilities weren’t always transferable to songwriting. The absolute low point of this sound is “We Can Run,” which turns one of music’s most enduring bands into an odd parody of a bygone period.
The Grateful Dead song with the worst lyrics ever is one that was written by John Perry Barlow. The song “Money Money” is just a simple, uninteresting, and perhaps misogynistic song about a money-hungry gold digger.
Most of the Dead’s weakest songs were written when their own peak years were mostly in the past. Yet, it wasn’t always that. The song was permanently removed from the Dead’s live sets after just three appearances.
Nice list, and most of these are pretty bad. But I’d disagree with Liberty being the “most offensive and insulting lyrics” JG was ever permitted to sing. Or maybe I’m not listening close enough…which parts of the song display those characteristics? And never knew they played Money Money live, so that was a nice surprise to learn, unless you’re just making that up, too!
Money Money was played multiple times in May 74. Nice comment tho lol