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The Grateful Dead don't blow it on their first-ever network TV appearance

The Dead are absolutely hopeless, no doubt about it.  They blow everything, from lines to gigs.  Fortunately, they were quite transcendent most nights that nothing mattered.

Naturally, they stayed the hell away from live television.  This was the first time they’d appeared on any network show in their entire career –– which, at this point, was going on 14 years –– longer than The Beatles, Cream and CSNY were together –– combined.

Finally, a decade and a half in, Tom Davis, a founding writer at Saturday Night Live and lifelong Deadhead, had been bugging Lorne Michaels to book them for long enough, and after 3 years, Lorne caved in and took the chance on the act that might not only bomb, but would likely dose the entire cast and crew during a live television show. (see: what they did to Hefner & crew on Playboy After Dark).  

Right from the start Belushi and the drummers hit it off, and an historic relationship in the annals of debauchery bloomed over this clip, leading to The Blues Brothers famously joining The Dead at their annual orgiastic New Year’s Eve show in San Francisco six weeks later.  As official Dead biographer Dennis McNally put it in his definitive biography, "A Long Strange Trip":  “SNL was one of the few scenes on the planet that could compete with The Dead for drug abuse.” 

The band existed in the middle of a tornado, and anything could get swept up and scrambled randomly.  The Sex Pistols might have stuck pins through their cheeks, but The Dead were surrounded by Hell’s Angels who would tear them out without undoing them.

The Dead, who could handle anything musically and went on stage every night without a net or a set list, were petrified at doing structured television. So much so . . . they actually rehearsed for this. That’s right.  Once every 10 years whether they needed to or not.  And they brought 7 minutes down to 3-and-a-half!  Leaving scores of their former record executives screaming, “Why couldn’t they do that for me?!”

And what’s so wonderful about this Casey Jones is – they pull it off!  They’re on!  Garcia’s just grinning-in-a-groove from the start, and by the end he’s almost laughing.  “Hey! We’re not fucking up!! This is easy!”

Course, in the next segment, they break out new material and we’re right back to square one.  But for 3 glorious minutes The Boys don’t blow it!

They’re gonna be big I tell ya!


The Grateful Dead (left to right):  Bob Weir (rhythm guitar and harmonies); Donna Jean Godchaux (harmony vocals);  Bill Kreutzmann (drums); Jerry Garcia (lead guitar & lead vocal);  Phil Lesh (bass);  Mickey Hart (drums);  Keith Godchaux (electric piano).

No additional information is available at this time.
Retrieved from Wikipedia:
Casey Jones on Wikipedia
"Casey Jones"
Song by Grateful Dead from the album Workingman's Dead
ReleasedJune 14, 1970
LabelWarner Bros.
Writer(s)Robert Hunter
Composer(s)Jerry Garcia
Producer(s)Bob Matthews
Betty Cantor
Grateful Dead
Workingman's Dead track listing

"Casey Jones" is a song by the American rock band the Grateful Dead. The music was written by Jerry Garcia, and the lyrics are by Robert Hunter. Hunter stated in a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone that "Casey Jones" didn't start out as a song, it just suddenly popped into my mind: "driving that train, high on cocaine, Casey Jones, you better watch your speed." I just wrote that down and I went on to whatever else I was doing, and some time later I came across it and thought, "That's the germ of a pretty good song."[1] The song first appeared on the Dead's 1970 album Workingman's Dead. Subsequently it was included on a number of their live albums.[2]

The Grateful Dead played "Casey Jones" in concert on a regular basis from June 1969 through October 1974. After that, they continued playing it live, but less often. In total they performed the song in concert more than 300 times.[3]

"Casey Jones" is about a railroad engineer who is on the verge of a train wreck due to his train going too fast, a sleeping switch man, and another train being on the same track and headed for him. Jones is described as being "high on cocaine" (the song even makes a double entendre of advising Jones to "watch his speed"). It was inspired by the story of an actual engineer named Casey Jones. The engineer's exploits were also sung of in an earlier folk song called "The Ballad of Casey Jones", which the Grateful Dead played live several times.

"Casey Jones" has received significant airplay on progressive rock, album-oriented rock, and classic rock radio stations over the years, and so is one of the Dead's songs that is more recognizable by non-Deadheads.[4]

The song was released as a downloadable track for the game Rock Band on March 4, 2008.

Cover versions

  • "Casey Jones" is performed by Warren Zevon and David Lindley on Deadicated: A Tribute to the Grateful Dead, a 1991 album by various artists.
  • The song is included in Pickin' on the Grateful Dead: A Tribute, a bluegrass album of Grateful Dead songs.
  • Another bluegrass version of the song appears on the 2008 album Rex (Live at the Fillmore) by Keller Williams, Keith Moseley and Jeff Austin.[5]
  • A version by The Wailing Souls is included on Volume 1 of the reggae Grateful Dead tribute album Fire on the Mountain.
  • Didi the Drummer from The JukeBox Band performs this song in a Shining Time Station episode: Too Many Cooks.

Notes and references

  1. ^ "Robert Hunter on Grateful Dead's Early Days & 'Sacred' Songs". Retrieved 22 October 2016. 
  2. ^ "Grateful Dead Family Discography: Casey Jones". Retrieved 22 October 2016. 
  3. ^ Scott, John W; Dolgushkin, Mike; Nixon, Stu. DeadBase XI: The Complete Guide to Grateful Dead Song Lists, 1999, DeadBase, ISBN 1-877657-22-0, p. 131, 159-160
  4. ^ Dodd, David. "The Annotated "Casey Jones"". The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics. UCSC's Division of the Arts. Retrieved January 12, 2008. 
  5. ^ Keller Williams album for REX charity,, May 15, 2008, Retrieved May 7, 2008.

Browne, David. 'Robert Hunter On Grateful Dead's Early Days, Wild Tours, 'Sacred' Songs'. Rolling Stone. N.p., 2015. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.

External links

  • Lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics

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