Tighten Up Jam
Composer: Grateful Dead / others?

Also known as Soulful Strut Jam or Proto-Eyes Jam.

Tighten Up Jam is the name traditionally given to a jam that occurs over 20 times in Grateful Dead shows between late 1969 and mid-to-late 1971. The jam occurs within Dark Star or Dancing In The Street. The jam is included on a number of Grateful Dead releases but is never specifically named on any release.

Various theories have been put forward concerning the origins of this jam. The Tighten Up Jam name derives from the similarity of parts of the jam to the song Tighten Up by Archie Bell & The Drells. More recently it has been suggested that the jam is similar to the song Soulful Strut by Young-Holt Unlimited - hence the suggestion that it should be called Soulful Strut Jam. A similarity to the opening of Chicago's song Beginnings has also been suggested.

There are similarities between the opening of the Tighten Up Jam and the opening of Eyes Of The World which was introduced into the Grateful Dead repertoire in early 1973. For this reason the jam has also been called the Proto-Eyes Jam.

Grateful Dead recordings

The Tighten Up Jam occurs on these recordings but is not named on the tracks list information. There may be other examples of the jam on released recordings.

info Dick's Picks, Vol. 2, 1995 (in Dark Star)
info Dick's Picks, Vol. 8, 1997 (in Dancing In The Street)
info So Many Roads (1965-1995), Grateful Dead, 1999 (part of Beautiful Jam which was in Dark Star)
info Grateful Dead Download Series - A Night At The Family Dog 2/4/70, 2005 (in Dancing In The Street)
info Dave's Picks Vol 30: Fillmore East, 2/1/70, 2019 (in Dark Star)
info Dave's Picks Volume 43: 11/2/69 & 12/26/69, 2022 (in Dark Star)

As noted above three songs have been suggested as influences on the origins of the Tighten Up Jam: Tighten Up, Soulful Strut and Beginnings. The sections below provide a small amount of information about each of these songs.

Tighten Up

Tighten Up was written by Archie Bell and Billy Buttler. It was first released on a single at the end of 1967. The song reached No 1 in the R&B and pop charts in spring 1968.

no info Single (Dog Eat Dog / Tighten Up), Archie Bell and The Drells, 1967
no info Tighten Up (LP), Archie Bell and The Drells, 1968
no info Single (Tighten Up / Tighten Up Part II), Archie Bell and The Drells, 1968
no info Tightening It Up: The Best Of Archie Bell & The Drells, 1994
no info Tighten Up (comp), Archie Bell & The Drells, 2006

Soulful Strut

Written by Eugene Record and Sonny Sanders and originally recorded in 1968 as Am I The Same Girl with a vocals by Barbara Acklin. The vocals were removed from the recording and a piano part added and the resulting instrumental was released in November 1968 as Soulful Strut by Young-Holt Unlimited.

no info Single (Soulful Strut / Country Slicker Joe), Young-Holt Unlimited, 1968
no info Soulful Strut (LP), Young-Holt Unlimited, 1968
no info The Best Of, Young-Holt Unlimited, 2002
no info The Definitive, Young-Holt Unlimited, 2006


Beginnings was written by Robert Lamm and was originally released on the 1969 Chicago Transit Authority album. It was then released on a single. The group name was changed from Chicago Transit Authority to Chicago between the release of the album and the single.

no info Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Transit Authority, 1969
no info Single (Beginnings / Poem 58), Chicago, 1969
no info Chicago At Carnegie Hall, Chicago, 1971
no info Single (Beginnings / Color My World), Chicago, 1971
no info Chicago IX: Chicago's Greatest Hits, Chicago, 1975
no info The Heart Of Chicago 1967-1997, Chicago, 1997
no info The Very Best Of: Only The Beginning, Chicago, 2003
no info Chicago XXXIV: Live In '75, Chicago, 2015

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