Writer(s): Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Robert Hunter (see lyrics here)
Released: November 1, 1970
First Charted: November 27, 1971
Peak: 64 US, 64 CB, 68 HR, 1 CL, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): --
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 19.49 video, -- streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
The Grateful Dead formed in Palo Alto, California, in 1965. They became known as the quintessential jam band; that is, they built their reputation on their live performances that included long, instrumental jams and merged elements of “rock, folk, country, jazz, bluegrass, blues,…gospel, reggae, world music, and psychedelia.” WK Bob Dylan said they “are from a different world than their contemporaries.” BD Regarding their live performances, he said, “With most bands the audience participates like in a spectator sport…With the Dead, the audience is part of the band – they might as well be on the stage.” BD
They weren’t known for a lot of classic studio albums, although Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty, both released in 1970, proved to be the exceptions. Not surprisingly, they weren’t known much as a singles band either. Their only top-40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 came in 1987 with the top-10 hit “A Touch of Grey.” Still, they did rack up some songs in the 1970s that have become noted as classic rock staples, including “Uncle John’s Band,” “Sugar Magnolia,” “Friend of the Devil,” and, perhaps the biggest of all, “Truckin’.”
The latter only reached #64 on the Billboard Hot 100, but has become a notable classic. The United States Library of Congress called it a national treasure in 1997. The song’s refrain “What a long, strange trip it’s been” has achieved iconic status with widespread cultural use. WK
The lyrics were written by Robert Hunter, who Bob Dylan called the band’s “in-house writer poet…with a wide range of influences – everyone from Kerouac to Rilke – and steeped in the songs of Stephen Foster.” BD The song references a drug raid in New Orleans of the band’s hotel lodgings. WK
First posted 11/2/2022.