Isaiah Sharkey, the revered guitarist, singer, songwriter, and producer, offers a compelling reimagining of Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter‘s work on his cover of the Grateful Dead classic, “If I Had the World to Give”.
Sharkey has built a prodigious reputation over the years, providing “secret weapon” contributions to a wide array of beloved artists—from Ronald Isley to D’Angelo to John Mayer—while maintaining a steady output of solo material and production work.
His influence has often guided his collaborators’ sounds in new directions. Of late, Sharkey has been helping add some neo-soul swagger to Mayer hits like “Waiting on the World to Change” and “Vultures” at sold-out arenas as part of the recently wrapped Sob Rock tour.
On his version of “If I Had the World to Give”, Isaiah Sharkey continues to mine the space between his professional branches by applying his unique stylistic touch to the music of the Grateful Dead, a songbook Mayer champions to stadium-sized crowds with his “other” band, Dead & Company, which he leads with the Dead’s Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, and Mickey Hart.
Arranged and recorded entirely by Isaiah himself, the track sounds more like a D’Angelo slow jam or a lost Prince deep cut than the closing number off Shakedown Street. Sharkey turns the ballad into a smokey, enveloping R&B jam draped in intricate layers of atmospheric embellishment and siren vocals. With a hair-raising guitar climax that Deadheads can adore and a half-drunken groove that could make any Soulquarians fan take a second look at the psychedelic heroes, the cover threads the needle in more ways than one.
John Mayer was one of many fans who had glowing things to say about the cover when Sharkey released it back in March of 2022, commenting on Instagram, “This is brilliant. I just smiled and grooved along for 8 minutes. So so good.”
Give Isaiah a follow on Instagram for a steady stream of guitar mastery and listen to his cover of the Grateful Dead’s “If I Had The World To Give” below.
Fans can catch Isaiah Sharkey performing two sets of music at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre in St. Augustine, FL on Sunday, June 5th as part of Fool’s Paradise, the funky destination festival presented by Live For Live Music, Purple Hat Productions, GMP Live, and Rose Tours. In addition to Isaiah’s sets, the first Fool’s Paradise in five years, taking place on June 4th and 5th, 2022, will include multiple sets by prog-jam titans Umphrey’s McGee and future-funk favorites Lettuce, an appearance by raucous rock outfit Andy Frasco & The U.N., a soulful session with the duo of Jennifer Hartswick (Trey Anastasio Band) and Nick Cassarino (The Nth Power), and various dance parties with disco-funk DJ Flamingosis.
Isaiah Sharkey – “If I Had The World To Give” (Grateful Dead)
[Audio: Isaiah Sharkey]
[Originally published 3/2/22]