Day 290: That Would Be Something, 9/25/91

Grateful Dead Dick's Picks 17 album cover artwork

The Beatles influenced pretty much everyone in the world of rock and roll, or so it seems. Paul McCartney was the most pop focused of The Beatles and he has continued to churn out top notch pop records since the The Beatles broke up.

The Grateful Dead were not exempt from the influence of The Beatles. Nevertheless, it’s pretty safe to say that many heads were caught off guard when Jerry busted out McCartney’s That Would Be Something at the Garden. The band played theis Macca song a total of 16 times, but this was the first one.

I’m still on a Beatles kick at the moment, as I recently finished reading Here, There, & Everywhere, a book written by one of the engineers on The Beatles’ records with some interesting insights and stories about the band.

Space gives way to a cogent musical thought. The chord progression sounds a bit like Dear Prudence and I believe it’s Vince even plays around that melody before explicitly stating it at 1:25. Shortly after Jerry finishes the segue to That Would Be Something. It takes everyone a while to get in sync and for Jerry to really get the melody out there. Once he starts singing though Bob’s rhythm work makes a unique and interesting contribution to the song. Of course, once the song gets some legs under it the band shows that they were kidding the whole time and shift back into Playing In The Band.

Complete Setlist 9/25/91

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  1. I would love to know if the other band members knew this was coming or if Jerry himself even knew this was coming. Unless there’s an interview out there somewhere that I missed about this moment we may never know for sure.
    Around the 40 second mark the band seems to be finding it’s way to the Mind Left Body Jam. I’ve read elsewhere that Vince wasn’t familiar with MLBJ and started tinkering with Dear Prudence but I always thought that was Bruce playing. It could have been either, does anyone know for certain?
    So the big question is, did Jerry start That Would Be Something in response to Bruce (or Vince) teasing a Beatles song? Is this something they talked about earlier? The piano seems to jump all over the McCartney tune right away but either keys player might have been familiar with it anyway.
    In any case, this is exactly the kind of thing that intrigued me about the Dead’s live shows when I first got on the bus (’91 was when I started going to multiple shows and traveling just a little bit). A couple decades later and there are still all kinds of great jams and transitions to discover.

  2. I should add that I read Here, There and Everywhere a few months ago and it’s a terrific read, I’d recommend it to any music fan. I’m already planning to buy at least one copy as a Christmas present this year.
    I always thought that George Martin was a huge part of the Beatles success although John Lennon seemed to think that Martin got too much credit. After reading this book, maybe John was right, at least about the late years. Not to say that Martin wasn’t great at his job, but maybe it was more that he was able to do what the Beatles wanted him to do (and so were the other engineers).

    • I agree Mike. I found it to be a very interesting read. He’s definitely Paul’s guy, but at the same time it’s kind of a voyeur’s view on The Beatles, an insider’s outside view. He didn’t know them that well and what was going on with them, but rather only in a professional way. You can tell he really tried to keep his narrative contemporary and didn’t color it with too many anachronistic insights. I’ve been recommending it to every Beatles fan I know.

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