A few weeks ago, we announced that The National’s Aaron and Bryce Dessner were curating a massive tribute to The Grateful Dead. The sprawling, 59-track project, entitled Day of the Dead and scheduled for a May 20 release, would reportedly feature a mind-blowing array of artists coming together to pay homage to the legendary jam band and raise some money for HIV/AIDS research in the process.
Today, the first tracks from Day of the Dead were released on YouTube, and boy, were we right to be hyped. There’s The War on Drugs covering “Touch of Grey,” and Bruce Hornsby and DeYarmond Edison covering “Black Muddy River,” and Phosphorescent, Jenny Lewis & Friends covering “Sugaree,” Courtney Barnett covering “New Speedway Boogie,” and The National itself covering “Morning Dew.” All five are excellent, expertly melding each artist’s distinctive style with the original spirit of the Dead song, and together, they showcase the extreme sonic versatility of Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh and co. Check the songs out below.