Taylor Swift Details Latest Re-Recording, ‘Workingman’s Dead (Taylor’s Version)’

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Image via Taylor Swift – ‘Workingman’s Dead (Taylor’s Version)’ album art

Taylor Swift is having such a “High Time” re-recording her own albums that she has decided to give one by the Grateful Dead a try. The international pop superstar announced this week that she will give the “Taylor’s Version” treatment to the Dead’s 1970 Americana classic Workingman’s Dead.

While the move might seem a bit far-out, the two acts actually have a lot in common. Taylor Swift consistently dominates an array of notable Billboard charts while in February the Grateful Dead broke the record for the most Top 40 albums by any act in history. Furthermore, between the Dead’s continuous rollout of archival material (much of which is already available via bootlegs) and Swift’s campaign to re-record all of her albums (all of which are still available in their original forms), it’s clear that fans of both artists have no problem shelling out good money to hear the same thing over and over again.


Taylor Swift and the Dead also have a “lot” in common, as the scenes outside Swift’s sold-out stadium shows have drawn comparisons to the traveling circus of Deadheads that famously followed the Grateful Dead from city to city. The phenomenon of fans hanging in the parking lots outside of shows has been dubbed “Taylor-gating,” while back in the halcyon days of the Dead it was known as being “unemployed.”

While Taylor Swift lot certainly features less quasi-legal homemade merch—and less definitely-illegal items—than Dead lot, one commonality between the two gatherings is that everyone has to eat. As a veteran lot vendor who goes by the name Crust Daddy told Live For Live Music outside Swift’s 2023 show at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA, “I just go where people need grilled cheeses, but I’m honestly cleaning up with the Swiftie crowd. And they haven’t even figured out the garlic salt trick on Taylor tour yet, so I’m blowing kids’ minds out there.”

Swift began re-recording her albums back in 2021 after her catalog was sold to a private equity firm via their acquisition of her first label, Big Machine Records. In addition to allowing her to reclaim ownership of her recorded material, the re-recordings and associated re-releases have launched several of her old albums back onto the charts—some more than a decade after their original run.

A press release about Workingman’s Dead (Taylor’s Version) justifies Swift’s recreation of Workingman’s Dead by invoking a famous Jerry Garcia quote regarding the Dead’s notably permissive taping policy at live shows: “When we’re done with it, they can have it.”


One of the hallmarks of Swift’s “Taylor’s Version” re-recordings is the addition of “vault songs” and other material that didn’t make the original album. For Workingman’s Dead (Taylor’s Version), Swift re-recorded all 64 demos and alternate takes found on the Workingman’s Dead: The Angel’s Share 50th anniversary release. Just as Deadheads pored over that exhaustive release in 2020, a representative for Swift’s merchandise department projected that their entire stock of 50-LP Workingman’s Dead (Taylor’s Version) box sets will sell out within minutes.


Of course, Swift isn’t the first pop star to dip her toe into Grateful waters. Guitarist and global superstar John Mayer has spent the last several years playing with Grateful Dead veterans Bob WeirMickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann in stadiums nationwide as a member of Dead & Company. Some might say that Mayer walked alone by the black muddy river so that Swift could run for the roses, bringing the Grateful Dead’s music to a new Gen Z audience who will inevitably inform their TikTok followers about these brand-new songs they discovered.

“It’s so good of Taylor and Mayer to support lesser-known artists like the Grateful Dads,” 16-year-old Swiftie Kaylinn Custer said, adding, “Plus, I think ‘Uncle John’s Band’ is about her past with Mayer. Taylor’s so sneaky with those Easter eggs.”


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