Skip to main content

The National's Scott Devendorf: Five Essential Grateful Dead Songs

The National (courtesy of the band, Facebook.com, PR)

The National (courtesy of the band, Facebook.com, PR)

by

It's fair to say that Scott Devendorf, of The National (an FUV Essentials band) and LNZNDRF (an FUV Live alum), has loved the music of the Grateful Dead for a lifetime, especially over the past three years.

The bassist worked with his bandmates from the National on the epic, five-hour, 59-track Day of the Dead covers compilation which came out in the spring of 2016. The album, curated by the National's Aaron and Bryce Dessner and brimming with artists like Courtney Barnett, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and The War on Drugs, benefits the Red Hot Organization. Both Scott and Aaron spoke about the odyssey of the project's creation on "Behind Day of the Dead."

The tireless Devendorf accomplished his Day of the Dead duties while concurrently working on his side project LNZNDRF with his brother and National cohort Bryan Devendorf and Beirut's Ben Lanz. The trio released a self-titled album in March.

The Devendorf brothers, along with the Dessners, are avowed Deadheads, so when FUV asked Scott if he'd pick his "Five Essential Grateful Dead Songs" for FUV Essentials we weren't surprised that his choices reflected those of a true Dead connoisseur and enthusiast.

LNZNDRF and The National's Scott Devendorf: Five Essential Grateful Dead Songs:

Ned Lagin with Phil Lesh, “Seastones," Seastones (1975)
Electronic cybernetic biomusic. A cadre of synthesizers. Music concrete. As Ned Lagin said in a 2001 interview: "You gotta count your blessings, and amongst them are the people that you play music with, and your friends and, dare I say it? Your cats and your other loved ones.” [Jerry Garcia is also featured on the album].

Bob Weir, “Looks Like Rain," Ace (1972)
As John Perry Barlow wrote in The Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics: "I secretly believed that 'falling in love' was a conceit that people had made up in order to make themselves even more miserable for their perceived insufficiencies. People do stuff like that. Nevertheless, there this song was on a winter day in Wyoming, and I didn’t try to stop it from coming into existence merely because it trafficked in emotions I hadn’t quite experienced. I didn’t know who these people in the song were or, really, what they were experiencing, but as it arrived, it seemed as genuine as any other love song.”

Bob Weir “Playing in the Band," Ace (1972)
"Some folks up in treetops/Just looking for their kites.” According to Deadbase X, it would end up as the Dead's fourth most-played song in concert over their long career with 581 performances (not counting isolated reprises). [The song is also found on Mickey Hart's 1972 album Rolling Thunder as "The Main Ten," referring to its 10/4 time signature].

Jerry Garcia “Bird Song," Garcia (1972)
“Dry your eyes on the wind" ... Gorgeous, abstract, and open. Robert Hunter includes the dedication, "...for Janis," with the lyric as it appears in the book A Box of Rain: Lyrics: 1965-1993. He also lists the title as "Birdsong" (all one word).

Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart's Rhythm Devils, “Trenches, The Apocalypse Now Sessions (1980)
This is primarily a percussion album. An intense album that artfully conveys the beauty and terror of the jungle in which the movie "Apocalypse Now" is set.

- Scott Devendorf,
August 2016

Read all of FUV's Five Essentials.

WATCH