Day 330: Truckin’, 4/6/82

Grateful Dead Road Trips 4.4 album cover artwork

A crazy as it sounds Truckin’ was never a show highlight song for me. I just never thought it was THAT great.

A few months ago I put out a question on Twitter as to what the Dead’s definitive song was. Much to my surprise and pleasure a few folks responded. I had suggested that Terrapin Station was the quintessential Grateful Dead song because it has it all – folk roots, drama, some jamming – the whole kit and kaboodle. One brave challenger proffered Truckin’ as an alternative and the more I thought about it the more sense it made to me. It could be either a tighter, shorter version (like this one), an 8-12 minute mid-range jam, or a 18-20 minute deeper jam track on occasion. In other words it’s a very versatile song. Plus they played it consistently for almost their entire career (so virtually anyone who was ever in the band played it at one point or another) and it’s got an auto-biographical element to it that just cements its status in my opinion.

We’ve had a range of Truckin’s on the site here and I think this is another worthy contender for adding some uniqueness and context to the song.

This Truckin’ kicks off with a few significant whistle blasts, and is immediately enveloped in some swirling B3 action courtesy of Mr. Mydland. Weir has a bit of a weird inflection on the end of his lines during the first verse. I’ve stopped trying to figure out what words Bobby botches in this song, although there are just some plain forgotten lyrics for the second stanza. Phil drops a sweet little fill right after the “lately it occurs to me” line, listen closely for that. Bobby throws in his “ever since she went and got her sex changed” ad lib that surfaced on occasion during the 80s. Somewhat surprisingly there isn’t a ton of jamming in this take of Truckin’. At almost 7 minutes it’s a rather concise versions, but Jerry makes his old guitar wail like a bluesman around the 4:50 mark as Weir tries to whip things into a fever pitch. An instrumental passage follows and Jerry quickly reaches the acme before settling things down for a more jammed out experience. The rhythmic feel changes as the end nears and it becomes quite clear where the next destination will be: The Other One.

Complete Setlist 4/6/82

Previous Truckin’ DFAY Selections

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