Day 67: Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad, 4/29/77

Grateful Dead Download Series 1 album cover artwork

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.

A nice, long intro gives Jerry an opportunity to string some nice runs together. Donna sounds good here and really leads the chorus sections. Jerry takes on the verses – there’s not a ton of enthusiasm in his voice. That seems reserved for his guitar. Keith has an interesting keyboard sound going here. There almost seems to be a bit of a organ quality to it, but nothing like a B3 or the type of organ Pigpen used.

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.)

Complete Setlist 4/29/77

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  1. GDTRFB!!!
    like Cumberland, a killer, groovin’ tune that ‘followed ME around’ as we used to say… saw quite a few of both of ’em…
    luckily, i&i was in attendance to 3 of the last 5 versions, 9.20.93 MSG w/Edie Brickell on backing vocals(!) that was pretty cool, checkout the Space > Other One that precedes it, suuuuuuuuper cool & unique hearing Edie doing lil scat things (“wanna see what’s going on” was one of her lines, if memory serves me correctly) & a dope Morning Dew after… great stuff!!!
    also, 3.28.94 Nassau Coliseum & 10.3.94 Boston Garden, both were pre-space, which is sorta rare… start to finish both of those shows are fantastic, super unique setlists/song sequences like:
    ~3.28.94 set:2
    BOX OF RAIN(!)
    HE’S GONE>

    AND, even cooler on 10.3.94 set:2
    BOX OF RAIN(!)
    (big fan of Attics… loooooooove it!)
    there’s a sick sbd of set:2 3.28.94 & a very good aud of 10.3.94 on thee archive, do check them out…
    actually, gonna throw 10.3.94 on myself & enjoy it with some delicious No. Cali Headband, continued irie-ness… and dead to the core, forevermore ♤

  2. Ace, thanks for the suggestions. One of the problems with 94 is that so many people bag on it as a whole that it can be difficult to find some of the gems scattered throughout. Edie Brickell rocks, so that might have to be a priority.

    It may not be so for everyone, but when I see GDTRFB on a setlist I get pumped. It’s always such a great tune – awesome vibe, Jerry usually kills it, the Bid You Goodnight tag… what’s not to love? I’ll jump on the Cumberland bandwagon too, as well as Attics. If I see those on a setlist or release I’m getting happy.

    I will say that I used to be a big fan of Box of Rain, but the more live versions I heard of it the less I liked it. I still like the studio version, but for a while there Sirius seemed to play the song every time I got in the car so it’s a bit worn for me at present. Maybe that will change at some point.

  3. I think Jerry learned GDTRFB from Delaney Bramlett on the Festival Express tour. That said, this makes me want to invest in the Download Series. Problem is, I would want the lossless versions and they cost about 50% more than the MP3s. It would be a chunk to get them all.

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