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Touch of Grey

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"Touch of Grey"
Single by Grateful Dead
from the album In the Dark
B-side"My Brother Esau"
GenrePop rock
Length5:50 (album version)
4:35 (single version)
Songwriter(s)Jerry Garcia, Robert Hunter
Producer(s)John Cutler
Grateful Dead singles chronology
"Dire Wolf"
"Touch of Grey"
"When Push Comes to Shove"

"Touch of Grey" is a 1987 single by the Grateful Dead, and is from the album In the Dark. The song is known for its refrain "I will get by / I will survive." It combines dark lyrics in the verses with upbeat pop instrumentation. A simple pronoun change in the final chorus (“We will get by/ We will survive”) transformed the song into an anthem, especially for the band's most ardent followers.[1]

The music was composed by Jerry Garcia, and the lyrics were written by Robert Hunter. It was also released as a music video, the first one by the Grateful Dead.

The song was first performed as an encore on September 15, 1982, at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland, and was finally released on In the Dark in 1987. The song reached the top 10 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart, peaking at number 9,[2] and reached number 1 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, the only song by the band ever to do so on both charts.[3] It was released as a single with "My Brother Esau" and later "Throwing Stones", and has appeared on a number of albums and collections.[4]

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Touch of Grey" gained major airplay on MTV and featured a live performance of the band, first shown to be life-size skeleton marionettes dressed as the band, then as themselves. The skeleton of bassist Phil Lesh catches a rose in its teeth, thrown by a female attendee; later, a dog steals the lower leg of percussionist Mickey Hart, and a stagehand hurries to retrieve and reattach it. Near the end of the video, the camera tilts up into the rafters to reveal that the living band members are themselves marionettes being operated by a pair of skeletal hands.

The video was directed by Gary Gutierrez, who had previously created the animation sequences for The Grateful Dead Movie. It was filmed at Laguna Seca Raceway after one of the band's concerts in May 1987.[5][6]

The popularity of the single and its video helped introduce the Grateful Dead to a new group of fans, resulting in the band gaining additional mainstream attention.[3][7]

Video documentary[edit]

The Grateful Dead also released a 30-minute documentary called Dead Ringers: The Making of Touch of Grey, about the production of the music video. The documentary was directed by Justin Kreutzmann, the son of drummer Bill Kreutzmann.[8]



The song "Harmony Hall" by Vampire Weekend has been compared to "Touch of Grey".[9][10][11][12]

On February 26, 1991, the song made an appearance on the tv show Roseanne during the episode titled “Vegas Interrupts” (season 3, episode 19).

Cover versions[edit]

Chart performance[edit]

"Touch of Grey" reached number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and peaked at number one on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. "Touch of Grey" is the band's only recording to ever reach the Top 40 on the Hot 100.[13]


  1. ^ Peter Richardson, "The Grateful Dead in the Age of Reagan," The History Reader, https://www.thehistoryreader.com/us-history/grateful-dead-age-reagan/
  2. ^ "Touch of Grey", Billboard.com
  3. ^ a b Ruhlmann, William. "Touch of Grey" at AllMusic. Retrieved August 31, 2012.
  4. ^ "Grateful Dead Family Discography: Touch Of Grey". www.deaddisc.com.
  5. ^ "Behind The Scenes Of The Making Of Grateful Dead 'Touch Of Grey' Video 1987". JamBase. 29 January 2017. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  6. ^ Browne, David (3 November 2014). "See Incredible Live Photos of the Grateful Dead". Rolling Stone.
  7. ^ Jackson, Blair (June 15, 2012). "That 'Touch of Grey' Summer", dead.net. Retrieved August 31, 2012.
  8. ^ "Grateful Dead Family Discography: Dead Ringers: The Making Of A Touch Of Grey". www.deaddisc.com.
  9. ^ "Vampire Weekend Made It a Hot Line, Then Made it a Hot Song". SPIN. January 24, 2019.
  10. ^ "Listen to "Harmony Hall" by Vampire Weekend" – via pitchfork.com.
  11. ^ Gopalan, Nisha (January 26, 2019). "Vampire Weekend's New Music Nods to Steve Martin, the Dead and the Band's College Roots".
  12. ^ Kornhaber, Spencer (January 29, 2019). "The Thrilling Uncoolness of Vampire Weekend's 'Harmony Hall'". The Atlantic.
  13. ^ "Grateful Dead – Chart history | Billboard". www.billboard.com.

External links[edit]