Almost everyone has used Elmore James’ version as a template for their cover – it’s more of a standard 12-bar blues song than Tampa Red’s earlier composition – and the Grateful Dead were no exception. But they played it slower than most and, as ever, their interpretation is not just the singer and lead guitar over a formulaic blues backing.
Despite Pigpen’s deteriorating health (he died a year later), he makes a valiant attempt to emulate his bluesmen heroes and plays some decent harmonica on this performance from Wembley on April 8th, 1972. Garcia set a much slower pace for most of the later versions on the tour, causing poor Ron to hold those harmonica notes even longer, but this is just about right, I reckon. The overall performance is subtly understated, delicate even, and what Ron’s voice lacks in power is made up for by the excellent tone and dynamics of the instrumentation.