The music of the Grateful Dead will be celebrated this May with a massive, 59-song tribute album dubbed Day of the Dead curated by the National's Aaron and Bryce Dessner. Five cuts from that all-star LP were unveiled today: The War on Drugs tackling the Dead's biggest hit "Touch of Grey," Courtney Barnett's "New Speedway Boogie," Phosphorescent, Jenny Lewis and friends teaming for "Sugaree," Dead vet Bruce Hornsby covering "Black Muddy River" with DeYarmond Edison and the National themselves offering the live staple "Morning Dew."
The artists all deliver Dead tracks as presented through their own style: The War on Drugs' "Touch of Grey" channels the group's lean toward motorik beats and Tom Petty, while Barnett strips down and stretches out the rollicking Workingman's Dead cut.
Day of the Dead is due out May 20th, with all profits from the tribute album benefitting the Red Hot Organization. Preorder the album now at the Day of the Dead site. All five videos feature psychedelic visuals directed by Michael Brown, Nick Ciontea, and Christopher Bartlett.
Four of the five cuts unveiled Thursday morning are from the tribute album's opening Thunder disc; the National's "Morning Dew" cover is culled from the Lightning disc. "These 5 are just a sampling, not favorites or singles," Aaron Dessner tweeted. "Can't wait for you to hear all 59 songs!!" The National – who appear four times together on the Day of the Dead tracklist, aside from additional solo performances – present "Morning Dew" this time around, with the group taking an atmospheric, shadowy approach to the beloved cut.
Day of the Night also boasts Dead covers from artists like the Flaming Lips, Wilco with Bob Weir, Mumford & Sons, Jim James, Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, TV on the Radio's Tunde Adebimpe, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, members of Grizzly Bear, the Walkmen, Bela Fleck, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Lucinda Williams, Lee Ranaldo, Bruce Hornsby, Charles Bradley, Kurt Vile and the Violators, and dozens more.