"If you tell the Truth, you don't have to remember anything"
-Mark Twain
"You realize, of course, that everything I say is horseshit." -Kurt Vonnegut

Saturday, July 14, 2012


If alive today, Woody Guthrie would have been 100 years old.
I am a Woody Guthrie fan. In high school, I "discovered" Bob Dylan and like most I started with "Highway 61 Revisited." Soon after I was on to "Bring it back Home" and "Blonde on Blonde," and so on and so on, until I picked up some bootlegs from the 64 and 65. I was in love with solo acoustic Dylan who was playful, sagacious, and perceptive.
After running into "saved" Dylan, it was time to start digging into some else, and knowing Dylan's influences, I started digging into Woody Guthrie. He was all that I loved about Dylan. His wit was astonishing. I discovered where Dylan got his "Knowed" line in "Don't Think Twice," when I first heard "Hard Travelin'." I heard his playfulness the song "Why Oh Why" and "Car Song." I understood his philosophy when I heard songs like "Pretty Boy Floyd" and "Pastures of Plenty."
I found his original version of "Going Down the Road Feeling Bad." It was of course much more stripped down than the versions that I knew with the Grateful Dead. It was sung different. The Grateful Dead version was playfully cheeky, where as Woody sang it as a more unfortunate tale. 
Jerry was taught the song by Rick Danko in 1970 on the Festival Express. Jerry takes to the song right away. A couple of months later the Dead installed it in their repertoire at Queens College and it remained a staple in there sets after that.
The Grateful Dead played on this date in 66, 67, 76, 81, 84, 85, and 90. The only time they played their Woody Guthrie standard is in 84 and 90.
Like Garcia, Woody lost his father at an early age. This loss forced Woody to get a job to feed himself and his family. He was shoe shine boy that saw a harp player making more money so he took up the same profession. Then picked up guitar before moving to California at 18. He later moved to New York, where he lived and later died of Huntington's disease. Though his voice was silent for many years, his mind never stopped creating lyrics, songs and music. In 1998, Nora Guthrie asked Billy Bragg to create the music to all the lyrics that he left behind. Bragg asked to add a collaborated and incorporated the band Wilco. Nora dedicated the album to their former home at 3520 Mermaid Avenue.
I always felt cheated that Jerry never got to hear that album. I always imagined him covering "California Stars" with JGB and "Way over Yonder in the Minor Key" with Grisman. At least we have this gem from the summer 1989 tour. The Grateful Dead filmed the tour with the thought of possibly making the Grateful Dead Movie part 2.

Tonight Furthur will play one mile away from Woody Guthrie's former residence in Coney Island, will they be "Going Down the Road Feeling Bad?"

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