The National

The National Announce Grateful Dead Tribute Album

Tributes are a tricky business. Done well, and they bring a whole new aspect to an original band or their work. Done badly, however, and they end up on stage in small town theatres, wearing worn out spandex and glitter. But to bring to life six whole hours worth of material, with renditions by every name in music you could wish for, is already a feat worth mentioning.

Following several years of work, The National have now formally announced their Grateful Dead mega tribute. Day of the Dead box set is indeed reported to be comprised of 59 tracks, with a run time of six hours, and is due to be released May 20 via 4AD. It will be available in digital format, and also as a 5xCD set and limited edition vinyl box set. The project is spearheaded by twins and members of the National, Aaron and Bryce Dessner, and all proceeds are intended for the not-for-profit HIV/AIDS organisation Red Hot.

Image via The National

Image via The National

Produced by Aaron Dessner, many tracks feature the house band: the Dessners, Scott and Bryan Devendorf (also of the National), Josh Kaufman, Conrad Doucette, Sam Cohen, and Walter Martin (the Walkmen). Amongst the other artists featured across the vast track listing are The War On Drugs, Kurt Vile and the Violators, Courtney Barnett, Anohni, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and The Flaming Lips– just to name a few!

As one of the most prolific bands from the 1960’s and 70’s (even though the band’s career spanned around five decades in total), The Grateful Dead brought together such a range of influences and styles as to make their huge catalogue brilliantly diverse. They are perhaps one of the few bands who’s work could be paid tribute in this grand style. Artists who have contributed to Day of the Dead have also published quotes about the band themselves. Will Oldham, and American singer-songwriter also know as Bonny ‘Prince’ Billy, commented;

“I have worked with a few people whose minds are brilliant and complicated, musically. There’s something about the Dead that allows these big-brained pickers to just chill the fuck out and feel good about it. There’s basic types of song forms and melodies that I have an affinity for, and the Grateful Dead have helped other people find their ways into these musics. So it isn’t as hard to establish connections with folks out there that might not otherwise share some of what I am digging into.”

As well as the release of the recordings, an all-star Day of the Dead set has been announced for this year’s Eaux Claires (August 12-13), the festival curated by Aaron Dessner and Justin Vernon. Read the full track listing for the release below.

Day of the Dead:

Thunder (Vol. 1):

01 The War on Drugs: “Touch of Grey”
02 Phosphorescent, Jenny Lewis & Friends: “Sugaree”
03 Jim James & Friends: “Candyman”
04 Moses Sumney, Jenny Lewis & Friends: “Cassidy”
05 Bruce Hornsby and DeYarmond Edison: “Black Muddy River”
06 Ed Droste, Binki Shapiro & Friends: “Loser”
07 The National: “Peggy-O”
08 Kurt Vile and the Violators: “Box of Rain” [ft. J Mascis]
09 Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Friends: “Rubin and Cherise”
10 Perfume Genius, Sharon Van Etten & Friends: “To Lay Me Down”
11 Courtney Barnett: “New Speedway Boogie”
12 Mumford & Sons: “Friend of the Devil”
13 Lucius: “Uncle John’s Band”
14 The Lone Bellow & Friends: “Me and My Uncle”
15 Lee Ranaldo, Lisa Hannigan & Friends: “Mountains of the Moon”
16 Anohni and yMusic: “Black Peter”
17 Bryce Dessner: “Garcia Counterpoint”
18 Daniel Rossen, Christopher Bear and the National: “Terrapin Station (Suite)” [ft. Josh Kaufman, Conrad Doucette, So Percussion and Brooklyn Youth Chorus]
19 Angel Olsen: “Attics of My Life”
20 Wilco and Bob Weir: “St. Stephen (Live)”

Lightning (Vol. 2):

01 Bonnie “Prince” Billy: “If I Had the World to Give”
02 Phosphorescent & Friends: “Standing on the Moon”
03 Charles Bradley and Menahan Street Band: “Cumberland Blues”
04 Tallest Man on Earth & Friends: “Ship of Fools”
05 Bonnie “Prince” Billy & Friends: “Bird Song”
06 The National: “Morning Dew”
07 Marijuana Deathsquads: “Truckin'”
08 Cass McCombs, Joe Russo & Friends: “Dark Star”
09 Nightfall of Diamonds: “Nightfall of Diamonds”
10 Tim Hecker: “Transitive Refraction Axis for John Oswald”
11 Lucinda Williams & Friends: “Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad”
12 Tunde Adebimpe, Lee Ranaldo & Friends: “Playing in the Band”
13 Local Natives: “Stella Blue”
14 Tal National: “Eyes of the World”
15 Bela Fleck: “Help on the Way”
16 Orchestra Baobab: “Franklin’s Tower”
17 Luluc With Xylouris White: “Till the Morning Comes”
18 The Walkmen: “Ripple”
19 Richard Reed Parry with Caroline Shaw and Little Scream: “Brokedown Palace” [ft. Garth Hudson]

Sunshine (Vol. 3):

01 Real Estate: “Here Comes Sunshine”
02 Unknown Mortal Orchestra: “Shakedown Street”
03 Hiss Golden Messenger: “Brown Eyed Woman”
04 This Is the Kit: “Jack-a-Roe”
05 Daniel Rossen and Christopher Bear: “High Time”
06 The Lone Bellow & Friends: “Dire Wolf”
07 Winston Marshall, Kodiak Blue and Shura: “Althea”
08 Orchestra Baobab: “Clementine Jam”
09 Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks: “China Cat Sunflower – I Know You Rider”
10 Bill Callahan: “Easy Wind”
11 Ira Kaplan & Friends: “Wharf Rat”
12 The Rileys (Terry and Gyan Riley): “Estimated Prophet”
13 Man Forever, So Percussion and Oneida: “Drums – Space”
14 Fucked Up: “Cream Puff War”
15 The Flaming Lips: “Dark Star”
16 s t a r g a z e: “What’s Become of the Baby”
17 Vijay Iyer: “King Solomon’s Marbles”
18 Mina Tindle & Friends: “Rosemary”
19 Sam Amidon & Friends: “And We Bid You Goodnight”
20 The National With Bob Weir: “I Know You Rider (live)”

Image: Pitchfork.