In the wake of all the Grateful Dead hype--50th Anniversary Fare The Well shows, the Dead & Company North American tour and the release of exclusive box sets--indie rock, Ohio outfit, The National, decided to craft an entire tribute album dedicated to the influential band that fused together elements of blues, psychedelia, folk, rock, country and bluegrass. Trailing his duty of performing the Dead's 50th anniversary gigs, Bruce Hornsby teamed up with Bon Iver's Justin Vernon to record a take on the Dead's "Black Muddy River."
News of the tribute album came last month when the group revealed the anticipated tribute LP would arrive in early 2016. Among a list of contributors such as Sharon Van Etten, Kurt Vile, UMO, Perfume Genius, F*cked Up, Stephen Malkmus, Phosphorescent, J Mascis, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Grizzly Bear's Daniel Rossen, Lee Ranaldo, and Yo La Tengo's Ira Kaplan, Hornsby was one artist that went unmentioned.
Longtime Dead collaborator, Hornsby, took to his personal Facebook to share a post detailing his involvement on the National's impending album. Putting his talents together with Justin Vernon, the two crafted a unique version of the 1987 In The Dark penultimate track, a tune Hornsby calmly covered once before in 1996.
"Justin and Bruce recorded a version of 'Black Muddy River' for a Grateful Dead tribute record curated by the group The National," the Facebook post read. According to Jambase, the "Skinny Love" singer expressed his fascination with Hornsby's music countless times. One of those times occurred while appearing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon as he told the late night host, "There's not enough Hornsby in my scene" just before tackling a performance of "I Can't Make You Love Me" by Bonnie Raitt, which originally saw contributions from Hornsby.
The album will contain further contributions like The War On Drugs' cover of "Touch of Grey," Walkmen's take on the Dead's American Beauty staple "Ripple" and Kurt Vile's interpretation of "Box of Rain."