Country singer Jamey Johnson and saxophone player Dave McMurray have combined their talents for a new cover of Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter’s “To Lay Me Down” that’s out now. The song appears on McMurray’s upcoming album Grateful Deadication 2, a tribute album that reimagines the work of the Grateful Dead.
The track opens with some celestial sax runs and percussion, but quickly shifts to a subdued arrangement of acoustic guitar and piano for Johnson’s tender delivery of the verses. McMurray accents the tune with some soulful sax licks as the production swells, and midway through its 8-minute run time, he takes over with a soaring solo that gives it a jazzier feel. The recording also features musicians Greg Leisz, Larry Campbell, and Don Was.
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“When it came to finding the perfect vocal for ‘To Lay Me Down,’ I thought of Jamey right away,” McMurray said in a statement. “What he did with the song is so raw and emotional and tells the story in a whole different way. He got way inside the lyric and it just felt like nothing I’d ever heard before.”
Grateful Deadication 2 will be released May 19 via Blue Note and includes musical contributions by Oteil Burbridge and Bob James. It’s the follow up to McMurray’s 2021 tribute Grateful Deadication, which featured guests including Bob Weir and Bettye LaVette.
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