The Grateful Dead Pays Tribute to Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” in a 1982 Concert: Hear “Raven Space”

Over the years, we’ve fea­tured numer­ous read­ings of Edgar Allan Poe’s famous nar­ra­tive poem, “The Raven” (1845). Nar­ra­tions by Christo­pher Walken, Vin­cent Price, Christo­pher LeeNeil Gaiman, Stan Lee and John Astin (think The Addams Fam­i­ly)–they’ve all got­ten some air­time here on Open Cul­ture. Now you can add The Grate­ful Dead to the list. Kind of.

In April 19, 1982, the Dead played their final show of an East Coast tour in Bal­ti­more, the town where Poe lived and even­tu­al­ly died (under mys­te­ri­ous cir­cum­stances, I might add). About 15 songs into their set, the band wheeled two giants tanks of nitrous oxide onstage and launched into their long improvs “Drums” and “Space.” In what’s since been dubbed “Raven Space” (lis­ten above), an eerie sound­scape unfolds. Then bassist Phil Lesh, says grim­ly “Quoth the Raven ‘Nev­er­more,’ ” let­ting you know what idea they’re riff­ing on. No com­plete nar­ra­tion of “The Raven” fol­lows. The homage to Poe is more con­cep­tu­al than lit­er­al, just as you might expect from the Dead.

You can lis­ten to the Dead­’s com­plete Bal­ti­more show here.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven,” Read by Christo­pher Walken, Vin­cent Price & Christo­pher Lee

Neil Gaiman Reads Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”: One Mas­ter of Dra­mat­ic Sto­ry­telling Reads Anoth­er

The Great Stan Lee Reads Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.