Grateful Dead

Dark Star

Composed by Bill Kreutzmann / Bob Weir / Jerry Garcia / Mickey Hart / Phil Lesh / Robert Hunter / Ron "Pigpen" McKernan

Song Review by

If there is one singular recording that defines the Grateful Dead's musicality and experience, this is it. Opening up the seminal Live Dead album, this track -- clocking in at over 20 minutes -- creates a sense of psychedelic atmosphere that was the band's trademark. Free-form jazz, folk, country, rock, and blues all melt together in one cohesive whole here. Obviously, the core of the melody is defined by Jerry Garcia's electric guitar and Phil Lesh's bass, however, it is the band's ensemble looseness that creates the feeling, and it is both subtle and striking. There are lyrics as well, and Robert Hunter's free-form acid-prose reflects the music perfectly like another instrument. Difficult to describe but certainly easy to listen to, it captures the band's appeal in, believe it or not, one composition. If readers are curious to the band's overall legacy and phenomenon, this song is an absolute must.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Live/Dead 1969 Rhino / Warner Bros. 23:19
Zabriskie Point [Original Soundtrack] 1970
Original Soundtrack
Sony Music
The Grateful Dead Movie [Video] 1976 Shout! Factory
What a Long Strange Trip It's Been: The Best of the Grateful Dead 1977 Warner Bros. 2:41
No Image 1982
Various Artists
MGM/UA
Two from the Vault 1992 Grateful Dead / Rhino 11:20
Rock Goes to the Movies: In Dreams 1993
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution
Dick's Picks, Vol. 2: Columbus, Oh, 10/31/71 1995 Grateful Dead / Rhino 23:14
Dick's Picks, Vol. 4: Fillmore East 1996 Real Gone Music 29:41
Live at Fillmore East 2-11-69 1997 Grateful Dead / Rhino 12:29
Dick's Picks, Vol. 7: Alexandra Palace, London, England 9/9-9/11/74 1997 Real Gone Music 24:08
Dick's Picks, Vol. 11: Stanley Theatre, Jersey City, NJ September 27, 1972 1998 Real Gone Music 30:49
Dick's Picks, Vol. 16: Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, Ca 11/8/69 2000 Real Gone Music 3:05
Dick's Picks, Vol. 19: Fairgrounds Arena Oklahoma City, OK 10/19/73 2000 Real Gone Music 15:45
View from the Vault II 2001 Grateful Dead 24:58
Nightfall of Diamonds 2001 Grateful Dead / Arista 5:18
View from the Vault II [Video] 2001 Monterey Video 24:44
The Golden Road (1965-1973) 2001 Grateful Dead / Rhino 2:41
Dick's Picks, Vol. 22: Kings Beach Bowl, Kings Beach Lake Tahoe, CA 2/23-2/24/68 2001 Real Gone Music 6:48
Dick's Picks Vol. 27: Live at Oakland Coliseum Arena, Oakland, CA 2002 ADA / Real Gone Music 8:55
Steppin' Out with the Grateful Dead: England '72 2002 Rhino 31:27
Dick's Picks, Vol. 26: 4/26/69 Electric Theater, Chicago, IL/ 4/27/69 Labor Temple, Minneapolis, MN 2002 Real Gone Music 26:36
Dick's Picks, Vol. 28: 2/26/73 Pershing Municipal Auditorium, Lincoln, NE - 2/28/73 Salt Palace, Salt Lake City, UT 2003 ATG / Atlantic 25:22
The Closing of Winterland: December 31, 1978 2003 Grateful Dead / Rhino 1:09
The Dreamers 2004
Original Soundtrack
Nettwerk America / Nettwerk 9:02
Rockin' the Rhein with the Grateful Dead 2004 Grateful Dead / Rhino 25:46
The Grateful Dead Movie Soundtrack: 5-CD Set 2005 Rhino 24:10
Fillmore West 1969 2005 Grateful Dead 19:43
Dick's Picks, Vol. 36 2005 Real Gone Music 37:08
Love Is the Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-1970 2007
Various Artists
Rhino/Warner Bros. 2:45
Winterland 1973: The Complete Recordings 2008 Wake of the Flood
Woodstock 40 Years On: Back to Yasgur's Farm 2009
Various Artists
Atlantic / Rhino 19:12
Ladies and Gentlemen...The Grateful Dead: Fillmore 2009 Grateful Dead 13:55
Europe '72, Vol. 2 2011 Grateful Dead / Rhino 19:51
Dark Star: Europe '72 Olympia Theatre - Paris, France 5/4/72 2012 Rhino 17:34
No Image 2012 Rhino
Sunshine Daydream: Veneta, OR, August 27th, 1972 2013 Grateful Dead / Rhino 31:27
Wake Up To Find Out: Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY, March 29, 1990 2014 Rhino
The Best of the Grateful Dead 2015 GC / Grateful Dead / Rhino 2:42
30 Trips Around the Sun [80-CD Set] 2015 Grateful Dead / Rhino 10:25
Harding Theater, 1971 2016 Left Field Media
30 Days of Dead 2015 2016 Grateful Dead / Rhino 22:18
Long Strange Trip: The Untold Story of the Grateful Dead [Motion Picture Soundtrack] 2017 Rhino 23:51
Smiling on a Cloudy Day 2017 GC / Grateful Dead / Rhino
Bickershaw Festival
Various Artists
Oz/T Morpheus 19:49
Black and White Ball GoldTone Records 19:23
No Image Grateful Dead / Rhino 18:55
Europe '72 Vol 10: 4/29/72 [Musikhalle, Hamburg, West Germany] Grateful Dead / Rhino 30:11
No Image Grateful Dead / Rhino 32:09
No Image Grateful Dead / Rhino 29:25
No Image Grateful Dead / Rhino 30:59
Grateful Dead Download Series, Vol. 12: Washington U., St. Louis, MO Grateful Dead / Rhino 21:35
Grateful Dead at the Hollywood Festival Ozit
Live Albums Collection Grateful Dead / Rhino 23:19
No Image Grateful Dead / Rhino 19:40
No Image Grateful Dead / Rhino 18:55
No Image
Various Artists
Mercury
blue highlight denotes editor's pick