Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.
Whatever you think or don’t think of the Grateful Dead, we have to credit the songwriting team of Jerry Garcia and lyricist Robert Hunter for turning out some indelible classics. As long as there are acoustic guitars to strum and humans to sing, “Ripple” will ring out, and “Friend of the Devil” too. These songs have osmosed into the folk tradition that gave rise to them.
I’m not going to make the same claim of timelessness for “Bird Song,” Garcia and Hunter’s elegy to their friend Janis Joplin. Its greatness is of a different kind. But as far as elegies go, it has very few peers and is worth attention.