The Eleven

Album: Live Dead (1969)


  • Written by the band's lyricist Robert Hunter and bassist Phil Lesh, the Grateful Dead started playing this song in 1968. Their drummer Micky Hart was responsible for the band exploring unusual musical time signatures, and the title is based on the 11 beat signature, as its name suggests. This is in 11/8 time, mostly played as three beats of three followed by a beat of two in the song.
  • The band usually performed this as the follow-up song in a string of tunes. At first in early 1968 it was linked with "China Cat Sunflower," then later in 1968 it followed "Saint Stephen" and the William Tell bridge. They dropped it from the repertoire in early 1970, when "Not Fade Away" came to follow "Saint Stephen." Phil Lesh and Bob Weir picked it back up in the '00s, and there are videos of Ratdog playing it. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alph - Bridgeport, CT

Comments: 4

  • Ken from Maryland, MdI can name 2 other rock songs in 11/8. Whipping Post by the Allman Brothers Band, and Eleven by Primus. Don't remember the name, but there is also a King Crimson song in 17/16. Back to the Dead, you forgot the section of Terrapin in 13/8.
  • Peter from Lancaster, United KingdomI don't want to be too pedantic, but NFA, Iko Iko, and Women Smarter aren't in 5/4, they're in good old-fashioned 4/4. Nor is The Other One in 9/4: it's 4/4 too, but played in quaver (eighth note) triplets. Strictly speaking, it's also a bit perverse to count The Eleven in 11/8. The most natural way to count it is as three bars (measures) of 3/4 followed by a bar of 2/4.
  • Nick from Albuquerque, Nm, NmHow about Fracture by King Crimsom in 15/8 time?
  • Jon from North Reading, MaCan anyone name ANY rock song performed in 11/8 time?!? I love all of the odd time signature songs that the Dead played - 5/4 (NFA, Iko, Women Smarter), 7/4 (Estimated, Lazy Lightning/Supplication), 9/4 (Other One) 10/4 (Playin'). I am pretty sure they have some songs in a 6, but I can't think of any at the moment.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Zac Hanson

Zac HansonSongwriter Interviews

Zac tells the story of Hanson's massive hit "MMMbop," and talks about how brotherly bonds effect their music.

Edwin McCain

Edwin McCainSongwriter Interviews

"I'll Be" was what Edwin called his "Hail Mary" song. He says it proves "intention of the songwriter is 180 degrees from potential interpretation by an audience."

Rosanne Cash

Rosanne CashSongwriter Interviews

Rosanne talks about the journey that inspired her songs on her album The River & the Thread, including a stop at the Tallahatchie Bridge.

Boy Bands

Boy BandsFact or Fiction

From NKOTB to 1D, how well do you know your boy bands?

dUg Pinnick of King's X

dUg Pinnick of King's XSongwriter Interviews

dUg dIgs into his King's X metal classics and his many side projects, including the one with Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam.

Trans Soul Rebels: Songs About Transgenderism

Trans Soul Rebels: Songs About TransgenderismSong Writing

A history of songs dealing with transgender issues, featuring Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Morrissey and Green Day.