3 Best John Mayer Dead and Company Songs [Ranked]

John Mayer has fit into the Grateful Dead style of music swimmingly. So much so that they have been touring steadily since 2015 and selling out most shows. After touring for 7 years and each show being recorded, a large library has been built up. And this library of songs all has improvisational elements that make each of them unique. But which of the songs from this library are considered John Mayer’s best Dead and Company songs?

What are the three best John Mayer Dead and Company songs? The three best John Mayer Dead and Company songs are Sugaree from the 2019 Dallas TX show, Cumberland Blues from the 2018 George WA, and Cold Rain and Snow from the 2018 Riviera Maya, MX show.

Continue reading to find out why these songs made the list and to listen to them.

Best John Mayer Dead and Company Songs
Photo I took from the Dead & Co Boulder show in 2022

Is John Mayer Good With Dead and Co?

John Mayer is good with Dead and Co as he has added new life to the group. A fresh and modern take on the Grateful Dead’s large library of songs. His guitar playing is unique and does not overstep any of the other band members. Instead, it works succinctly with them to provide a Mozart-like performance.

Many guitarists when presented with the opportunity to play with the Dead would shake in their boots. The idea of replacing Garcia, whether literally or figuratively, is a monster. Deadheads, like myself, are opinionated and protective of the music that shaped us.

“John came in with his guitar, not Jerry’s. He’s his own artist, with his own style. He is not trying to be jerry or play his style. That is what a true artist does.”

William S, Dead and Co Concertgoer

After going to many shows and talking with the concertgoers, primarily in their 20s and 30s, many of them told me that John Mayer turned them into a deadhead.

John’s popularity brought them to the show, and the music will keep them a fan for a lifetime. Now they are delving into Grateful Dead’s older shows from the late 60s and 70s, all because of how good John Mayer is with Dead and Co – his playing inspired them to trust the journey involved with delving into the Grateful Dead anthology. A happily never-ending journey.

3 Best John Mayer Dead and Company Songs

The best John Mayer Dead and Company songs are:

  1. Sugaree – Dallas, Texas 2019
  2. Cumberland Blues – George, WA 2018
  3. Cold Rain and Snow – Riviera Maya, MX 2018

Please note that these songs are not original John Mayer songs for readers that do not know the history of the Grateful Dead or Dead and Co. He is simply playing in the band, as he loves to do. The three songs made the list heavily based on Mayer’s guitar work in them.

Discover How John Mayer Joined Dead and Company Here

Furthermore, it is biased to my taste in the blues. The earlier Dead and Co shows between 2016-2019 were notably more bluesy than current shows. This is not to say current shows are not bluesy, I am just saying they were more bluesy in the beginning as it took John a few years to expand from his blues roots and create a brand new style solely for and around Dead and Company.

1. Sugaree – Dallas, Texas 2019

The best John Mayer Dead and Company song is Sugaree from the 2018 Dallas, TX show because of his improvisational guitar precision and creativity as well as his vocal perfection throughout the entirety of the song.

After spending many months researching for this article, both as a fan and from a technical guitar perspective, this version of Sugaree came out on top. Right off the bat at the beginning of the song, Mayer adds flare to the opening licks with slick and quick slides while keeping with the rhythm.

And to the frequent readers of this site, no I did not choose this song because Mayer is wearing an SRV shirt. Although it does seem like Mayer channels some SRV in him during this solo as it is the best solo I have ever seen him play on this song.

“To me, this was the absolute best sugar the band has ever played……..I hate to say it, but I can’t think of anybody (minus Mr. Garcia) who can play it better than John Mayer……..he can play the sh*t out of that song………it just works when he does it……there is only a few of those type songs and this is one of them”

Sam, Concertgoer

Vocally, Mayer is at his perfection. No cracks, nothing off time, and a perfect pitch throughout the entire song.

What also separates this Sugaree from others is the pace. The pace is steady in the beginning and then ramps up fast by the second solo and remains as such until slowing down to end the song. Each Sugaree is different and Mayer’s guitar playing in this version stands alone at the top of the mountain.

The mix of improvisational guitar precision and vocal perfection make this the best John Mayer Dead and Company song.

2. Cumberland Blues – George, WA 2018

The second-best John Mayer Dead and Company song is Cumberland Blues from the George, Washington show in 2018.

Improvisation is the key element to Dead and Company music. Each musician bounces off the other’s input. They react to each other and are completely in tune with where the other person is going or taking the song.

This song is an example of improvisational mastery. Each instrument works perfectly with one another. One instrument, in particular, is Johns. With Mayer’s blues background, his ability to improvise is well known. Although, this song takes it to another level where it delves into an impressive groove. Hence, why it made the list.

Go to the 4:45 mark and listen to the background of John’s guitar behind Jeff Chimenti’s keys. Mayer is dictating the pace and where the solo is going to go and then takes over at the 5:40 mark and delivers a groove mastery. Chimenti and Mayer just going at it together to deliver the best jam I have ever heard in my life.

3. Cold Rain and Snow – Riviera Maya, MX 2018

The third best John Mayer Dead and Company song is Cold Rain and Snow from the Riviera Maya, MX show in 2018.

This song gets two awards for Mayer. Vocals and guitar. Vocally, this is one of my favorite performances of his with Dead and Co. This is not an easy song to sing during those higher notes, which Mayer has voiced concerns over but he nails it here.

“Are you kidding me here? John sounds AMAZING! I had been listening to the 72 version of cold rain & snow than an 89 & I stepped away, this video came up & I honestly thought it was Jerry for a minute there! Fantastic strumming!”

Paul G, Concertgoer

What stood out to me was Mickey Hart’s reactions. After watching hundreds of songs and being at many shows, Mickey does not visually react much. At the 5:20 mark, you can see his “Woah” approved face. This is of course reacting to the solo that Mayer is playing. In a solo that he uses multiple technical guitar techniques including the strumming hand neck tap.

At the end of the song, Mayer is performing a solo and singing at the same time.

Thank you for reading the 3 best John Mayer Dead and Company songs. Please subscribe if you would like to be notified when a new article is posted.