The latest installment in the Grateful Dead‘s All The Years Live archive video series is available now on the band’s YouTube page. This entry highlights the Dead’s acoustic performance of “Bird Song” at Radio City Music Hall on October 30th, 1980.
Concerts on the Grateful Dead’s September and October 1980 tour saw the band perform three sets, one acoustic and two electric, in an homage to the band’s early San Francisco days. Taken from the groups’s early acoustic set on 10/30, the already-delicate “Bird Song” takes on an even more fragile nature with this telling. Jerry Garcia barely whispers the lyrics as the rest of the band files in behind him for a sublime jam that finds the trifecta of Garcia, Phil Lesh, and “the new guy” Brent Mydland all coming together in instrumental harmony.
Video of this show, along with the following evening’s Halloween concert, was later released on VHS and laserdisc in 1981 and on DVD in 2005 as Dead Ahead. Recordings of the acoustic concerts can be heard on the 1981 live album Reckoning.
Grateful Dead archivist and legacy manager David Lemeiux writes in the video’s description,
From Jerry’s first solo album, released in 1972, Bird Song was an exploratory part of Grateful Dead live shows 1971-1973, after which it disappeared from the repertoire. To everyone’s great surprise, and joy, it returned in September 1980, played acoustically at the Warfield and Radio City shows in the Fall of 1980 to celebrate the Dead’s 15th anniversary. A month later, it returned to the touring setlist in its electric form, where it would stick around for the next 15 years.
Watch the Grateful Dead perform “Bird Song” at Radio City Music Hall on October 30th, 1980.
Grateful Dead – “Bird Song” – New York, NY – 10/30/80
[Video: Grateful Dead]
Previous installments of the Dead’s ongoing All The Years Live series have included: