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 Lee, Neil 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.
Would you like to support the mission of Open Culture? Please consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere.