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Dear Mr. Fantasy
March 26, 1990
Knickerbocker Arena

A tight, upbeat, thrilling version from the legendary March 1990 Knick run.
April 5, 1971
Manhattan Center

Concise performance with great Garcia solo
It's A Man's World
Aug. 18, 1970
Fillmore West

Pigpen leads the band on an acid-drenched, climactic R&B jam.
Swing Low Sweet Chariot
June 24, 1970
Capitol Theatre

Mandolin and gospel harmonies help the crowd come down from a very lysergic show.


Days Between
Dec. 11, 1994
Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Stadium

The band really opened this song up during winter '94, and this version gets my vote for its two tremendous Jerry solos.
So Many Roads
Sept. 18, 1994
Shoreline Amphitheatre

After listening to all the versions of SMR with at least two votes, I have to give the nod to this one. When starting this experiment, I favored 06/23/92 for sentimental reasons, but a clear-minded assessment puts this one over the top. The usual closing chorus (which is excellent) is succeeded by a second guitar solo and yet another closing chorus, all performed with tremendous emotion and a degree of technical competence rare in the mid-90s.
So Many Roads
June 23, 1992
Star Lake Amphitheater

I've loved this versions since I first got a tape of the second set in 1993. Every time I hear it, I swear I can smell the velour and vinyl interior of the 1987 Chevy Caprice station wagon I drove in high school. After listening to all the other SMRs on this list with at least two votes, however, I reluctantly concede that the performance from 09/18/94 is even better. 10/01/94 is pretty good, but all the others are pretty weak. Even 07/09/95, despite its emotional vocal coda, is sloppy and boring.
Dear Mr. Fantasy
March 26, 1990
Knickerbocker Arena

The current top-rated versions of this song all segue out of either space or post-space Jerry ballads like China Doll, The Wheel, or Death Don't. These are all great tunes, but they lend the subsequent Fantasies a slow, dirge-like quality that can drag like a sea anchor on an already downbeat tune. Toss in the fact that it's a Brent song, and you've got a recipe for a second set narcotic downer, even if it's a great one. This is different: Bobby has just shredded a classic version of Miracle, and the band is fired up. It's the last night of the legendary Albany run immortalized on Dozin' at the Knick, and they're somewhere between all-time great ('90s) versions of China>Rider and Dew. They avoid the syrupy sentiment that can muck this song up and crank out a thrilling, high-energy performance. It's a glittering gem in the crown of this epic second set. Don't miss the Built to Last either!
April 5, 1971
Manhattan Center

This is a very early version, before it had metastasized into a bloated first set closer. In its early incarnation, Deal had a lot in common with Loser, in that they're both cautionary tales written from the point of view of an inveterate gambler drifting between the nameless saloons and unmarked graves of a mythical American West. This is a glimpse of what the song could have been: a concise elegy punctuated by two succinct but thrilling solos from Jerry. I love this version.