The 1970 Dead classic is being performed for the first time in his career, and it is a rare surprise in his generally formulaic “Rough and Rowdy Ways” repertoire.
On April 12, Bob Dylan performed a first-ever version of the Grateful Dead song “Truckin” for the crowd at his concert at the Garden Theatre in Tokyo, Japan.
Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead’s respective careers have long been entwined. In 1987, The Bard and the group went on tour together, which led to the live album Dylan & The Dead. Dylan, who is perhaps the greatest lyricist of all time, has previously praised jam rockers for their use of language.
The Grateful Dead‘s 1970 song “Truckin” was added to the repertoire as Dylan was on tour in support of his 2020 album, Rough and Rowdy Ways. Dylan writes about the song in his most recent book, The Philosophy of Modern Song: “Arrows of neon, flashing marquees, Dallas and a soft machine, Sweet Jane, vitamin C, Bourbon Street, bowling pins, hotels windows, and the classic line, ‘What a long, strange trip it’s been.’ A thought that anybody can relate to.’”
He also had words about the band and said, “The Grateful Dead are not your usual rock and roll band. They’re essentially a dance band. They have more in common with Artie Shaw and bebop than they do with the Byrds or the Stones. Whirling dervish dancers are as much a part of their music as anything else.”
Bob then added, “With most bands, the audience participates like in a spectator sport. They just stand there and watch. They keep a distance. With the Dead, the audience is part of the band-they might as well be on the stage.”
Dylan traveled with the Grateful Dead in 1987, and he also went to Jerry Garcia’s burial in 1995. He performed ‘Friend Of The Devil’ by Rough and Rowdy Ways as a cover earlier in the tour.
Below, you can hear Dylan cover “Truckin.”