They Love Each Other – Jerry Garcia 5/8/77 Solo

In this lesson, I bring you Jerry Garcia’s solo on “They Love Each Other” from the legendary May 8, 1977 show at Barton Hall, on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca New York.

"They Love Each Other" is a Hunter/Garcia composition that appeared on Jerry Garcia's 1976 solo album "Reflections". It was debuted February 9th, 1973 at Roscoe Maples Pavilion at Stanford University alongside a number of other soon-to-be Grateful Dead staples. It was performed 226 times after the initial Stanford performance.


Jerry's playing during this period was especially exciting and had a sense of adventurousness to it. The band had released their album "Blues for Allah" just two years earlier, which was heavily jazz inspired. That inspiration continued in Jerry's playing throughout the rest of the 1970's, and you can hear a lot of that influence in this solo.


Without a doubt, chromaticism was a cornerstone of Jerry Garcia's guitar playing, and can be a device that eludes many of those trying to emulate his playing. The word Chromatic originates from the Greek word chroma, meaning color. In Western music, the chromatic scale is a series of 12 pitches (each a half-step apart) that encompasses musical colors. When playing in a specific key or mode, a chromatic tone is any note that is outside of the key or mode you are playing in. "They Love Each Other" is in the key of G Mixolydian; and therefore, has no sharps or flats. Because of this, it is easy to see which notes are outside of the key. 

I find with a lot of my students that are new to the idea of using chromaticism in their playing, they have trouble figuring out how to introduce it into their improvisations. This is were phrasing comes in - you can get away with playing anything, as long as it is played convincingly, and resolves into a strong note. Let's take a look at some of the chromatic ideas Jerry employs in this solo.

Half-step below, scale-tone above

This is a very common jazz concept, and one that you can hear quite a bit in Garcia's playing. As the name of the idea suggests, the concept involves playing playing a half-step (or one fret) below the note you are targeting, and one scale-tone (a note that is in the scale your are playing out of) above. Let's explore what this would look like if we were targeting the notes out of a G major chord.

Half-step below, 4th (or 5th) above

The opening lick of the solo is one of my favorites, as well as very ear-catching. The idea combines two chromatic concepts, one being the half-step below, scale-tone above concept we talked about above. The other is similar - it involves a half-step below our target tone followed by our target tone, then we play a specified interval above the target tone. Jerry experiments with the intervals of a 4th and a 5th.

Download the transcription below, and most importantly - have fun!

Download the transcription

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  • wendy says:

    Thanks. Just found you on youtube and it looks like you put together an amazingly clear explanation f how to play a number of gd tunes plus other faves. Thank you so much for your effort that you put into helping struggling guitar players like myself. Im a 65 yr old female that put my guitar playing on hold for 20 plus years while raising a family. Ready now to put some time and work into improving my playing. I
    am a solid beginner/ almost intermdeiate and the lessons look like they will fit my needs EXACTLY!!
    Thanks again

    • Craig says:

      Wendy – Thanks for dropping me a line. I’m glad to hear you’re getting back into the guitar. It can be tough to pick back up, but having specific goals in mind will always be an immense help. And in my opinion, who can’t go wrong with the Dead or Jerry!

  • Adam says:

    I am a huge fan of your blog and youtube channel. I cannot imagine how long it takes to transcribe these songs, and I really appreciate the work you do. My playing has really improved by listening to the Dead, and your explanation of the theoretical basis for the music is extremely helpful.

    I love the 5/8/77 show, but actually I prefer the 5/22/77 Pembroke Pines show (Dick’s Picks Vol. 3). Have you heard it? Beautiful versions of Sugaree and Morning Dew. Speaking of, what is Jerry doing in Morning Dew? I cannot figure out how he’s playing the solos, particular the mazy, meandering, jazzy second solo:



    • Craig says:

      Adam – Thanks for your kind words. Yes, I’m very familiar with Dick’s Picks Volume 3 (I’ve owned a copy since the late 90s). I know the “Sugaree” on that album very well, but I’ll need to go back and re-listen to the “Morning Dew”. I will definitely try to tackle both of those songs in the future.

  • Maury Miloff says:

    You make Jerry’s solos possible to learn. I really appreciate that. One challenge I am facing though is that you switch sometimes from talking about strings and frets to notes (which I don’t know) or steps (which I am not quite clear on). Maybe that’s my challenge to learn, but for me at least, it would be easier to just hear it consistently as strings and notes. But I am now going to download your transcription so maybe that problem is gone!
    Thanks again!

    • Craig says:

      Maury – Thank you for your comment and feedback. I can see where that would be confusing, and I’ll try to be more conscious and consistent in my explanations. The challenge for me is that everyone learning these will be at different levels – I try to keep a balance between being thorough enough for those who aren’t quite as advanced, and insightful for those that are more advanced. Let me know if the transcription helps clear up some of the confusion.

  • Kevin says:

    Love your work, Craig! You’re definitely making me a better guitarist. I’m about 3/4 through your Scarlet solo. Sounds really nice. One piece of feedback I’d like to pass on. Regardless of the guitar teacher, I find it much easier to learn a song by the teacher slowing the timing a little bit, playing through the whole sequence and having the tab on the lower bottom of the screen as you’re playing. (your Scarlet Begonias solo is this way). Contrast this approach with the familiar method of the teacher starting and stopping and describing each measure(s) and the notes played, e.g, “Hammer on 5th fret D string up to 7th fret..”. If a teacher does this method, playing the smaller section at regular speed beforehand helps a lot to know what you’re trying to achieve. Thanks again for your awesome videos. I’ve passed your channel on to other guitarist. Peace!

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