Am I remembering correctly that Rick Danko, or someone from The Band, taught the Dead Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad at some point during the Festival Express train ride? Looking at the song’s chronology it certainly could be a correct recollection on my part. The Festival Express occurred during the summer of 1970 and the song was first played by the Dead in October of that same year.
One of the ironies with this song is that although it’s about feeling bad the song is so upbeat and has such a fun vibe. That juxtaposition of the lyrical content and melodic structure is really neat in my opinion. At the same time, when you think about it, when there’s an arena full of people singing along, saying “goin’ down the road feeling bad” and “don’t wanted to be treated this-a way” in a sense the sentiment is shared by everyone and that sense of empathy has the opposite effect, a positive one. Perhaps therein lies the power of this song? This version lacks the “We Bid You Goodnight” tease in it, but that’s another aspect of this song that I really enjoy, generally speaking.
I like this version because it goes in some unexpected directions. Your mileage may vary, of course, and if that’s the case then let me know in the comments.
Bobby adds some nice flourishes during the second verse and Phil bobs along as well. Keith sounds almost carnival-esque during the solo here. Usually that’s a comment reserved for some of Brent’s sounds, but the similarity here is striking to me. It’s not unpleasant, just not necessarily expected. After a few times through the chorus the band switches to the familiar Bo Diddley beat that suggests they’re seguing into Not Fade Away. The band vamps and Phil takes a mini solo here. The guitars re-join the mix and although the feel has changed still no NFA. The band continues to vamp but NFA never materializes. (The band would move into drums from here, but this is the last song on this release.)