Top 10 Grateful Dead Songs
'Box of Rain'
Composed by bassist Phil Lesh and lyricist Robert Hunter, 'Box of Rain' is an ode to Lesh's then dying father. The first Grateful Dead song to feature Lesh on vocals, in later years, crowds would shout, "Let Phil sing!" to hear the song.
'Ripple' was also released on 'American Beauty,' but gained more notoriety for being the b-side to the classic Grateful Dead song, 'Truckin.' Quoting the 23rd Psalm of the Bible, Robert Hunter reportedly wrote 'Ripple' while simultaneously drinking an entire bottle of Retsina -- or, the "wine of the Gods."
'Friend of the Devil'
Yet another song from 'American Beauty,' Hunter said this was "the closest we've come to what may be a classic." About an outlaw on the run from the police who makes a deal with the devil, 'Friend of the Devil' was often cited by many American Christian groups as an example of satanic influences in rock music.
'Bertha' is the first track, and one of three originals on 1971's 'Grateful Dead' album -- commonly referred to as the 'Skull and Roses' album to distance itself from their self-titled studio debut. While considered a live recording, the vocals and organ parts were later overdubbed in a studio.
Reportedly the second most played Grateful Dead song in their illustrious career, 'Sugar Magnolia' was often divided into two different entities when performed live: 'Sugar Magnolia' proper and the 'Sunshine Daydream' coda. When long-time friend of the band Bill Graham died, the coda was held off for an entire week.
'Touch of Grey'
The Grateful Dead's biggest commercial hit and only song to reach number one on the US charts, 'Touch of Grey' was also the basis for the band's first music video. Receiving major airplay on MTV, the video of the band as life-size skeleton marionettes helped introduce the Grateful Dead to a new generation of fans.
'Truckin' was not only written by all four core members, it was recognized by the United States Library of Congress in 1997 as a national treasure. It's chorus of, "What a long, strange trip it's been" has achieved a level of widespread cultural phenomenon.
'Uncle John's Band'
'Uncle John's Band' is one of the Grateful Dead's most immediately accessible and memorable melodies, and is one of the band's most played radio single. Reportedly, the "Uncle John" the song refers to is Mississippi John Hurt, an influence on the band who was also known by that alias.
The number one Grateful Dead song on our list, 'Casey Jones' is probably best known for the line, "Drivin' that train, high on cocaine, Casey Jones you better watch your speed." An ode to the railroad engineer who died saving the lives of his passengers, 'Casey Jones' is one of the most recognizable by non-Deadheads, though there is no proof of Jones' cocaine use.