deadsongs.vue.205 : Truckin'
permalink #0 of 52: David Dodd (ddodd) Mon 8 Sep 03 09:43
w: Hunter m: Garcia, Lesh, Weir
deadsongs.vue.205 : Truckin'
permalink #1 of 52: Alex Allan (alexallan) Mon 8 Sep 03 19:47
Lyrics: Robert Hunter
Music: Jerry Garcia/Bob Weir/Phil Lesh

Copyright Ice Nine Publishing; used by permission.

Truckin' got my chips cashed in
Keep truckin' like the doodah man
Together, more or less in line
Just keep truckin' on

Arrows of neon and flashing marquees out on Main Street
Chicago, New York, Detroit and its all the same street
Your typical city involved in a typical daydream
Hang it up and see what tomorrow brings

Dallas got a soft machine
Houston too close to New Orleans
New York got the ways and means
But just won't let you be

Most of the cats that you meet on the street speak of true love
Most of the time they're sitting and crying at home
One of these days they know they gotta get going
Out of the door and into the street all alone

Truckin' like the doodah man
Once told me "Gotta play your hand
Sometimes the cards ain't worth a dime
If you don't lay them down"

Sometimes the lights all shining on me
Other times I can barely see
Lately it occurs to me
What a long strange trip it's been

What in the world ever became of sweet Jane?
She lost her sparkle you know she isn't the same
Living on reds and vitamin C and cocaine
All her friends can say is ain't it a shame

Truckin' up to Buffalo
Been thinking you got to mellow slow
Takes time, you pick a place to go
Just keep truckin' on

Sitting and staring out of the hotel window
Got a tip they're gonna kick the door in again
Like to get some sleep before I travel
But if you got a warrant I guess you're gonna come in

Busted down on Bourbon Street
Set like a bowling pin
Knocked down, it gets to wearing thin
They just won't let you be

You're sick of hanging around, you'd like to travel
Get tired of travelling you want to settle down
I guess they can't revoke your soul for trying
Get out of the door, light out and look all around

Sometimes the lights all shining on me
Other times I can barely see
Lately it occurs to me
What a long strange trip it's been

Truckin' I'm a going home
Whoa, whoa, baby, back where I belong
Back home, sit down and patch my bones
And get back truckin' on

Additional lyrics:

Once in a while when the music gets into the street
Fifty old ladies buck every cop on the beat
They're putting the lock on Lindley Meadow and Kezar
Beginning to look like we can't play in the park

S.F. - that's an open town
Sometimes, it even makes a sound
Caution, spread the word around
Before them mother-truckers close it down
deadsongs.vue.205 : Truckin'
permalink #2 of 52: from DOUGLAS ROBERTSON (tnf) Tue 16 Mar 04 14:33

Douglas Robertson writes:

I saw a reference to this line on another website (UC Santa Cruz) dealing
with Grateful Dead lyrics and thought I'd add my two cents since the author
didn't understand what the reference was to.

Dallas - got a soft achine
Houston - too close to New Orleans

There was a club in Dallas back in the late 60's/early 70's called the Soft
Machine.  I assume the Dead must have played there.

The reference to New Orleans has to do with the band's bust in that city.
Mickey Hart's father had taken over management of the band briefly, from what
I remember from the news I read back then, and made the mistake of not paying
off the right people.

New Orleans was part of the Dallas mob's territory.  They had their own local
mafiosi but were under the control of the Dallas family, sort of like
Atlantic City belongs to the Philadelphia mob.  New Orleans was a very
corrupt city back then and if you didn't pay protection money, you got into

I suspect Mickey's father didn't know this or thought the Dead were immune,
because they all got busted in the hotel they were staying at.

Another incident along the same lines occurred when Pink Floyd came through
town.  I saw them at the Warehouse, which was the final stop on their
Ummagumma tour.  Second on the billing was the Allman Brothers, which
everyone had come for.  When they finished their set, 99% of the audience
split, so me and about 100 others had our own little private Floyd show.

Their band manager didn't pay off as well, and after that night's concert,
their entire truckload of equipment was stolen.  All those drums and cymbals,
etc. on the cover of Ummagumma got pinched because they didn't play ball with
the local guys.

I know all this 'cause I lived there at the time and was involved in some
illegal activity myself.

I think the Dead managed to get off by paying the money they should have at
first, plus a hefty penalty, and agreed not to play in the Dallas mob's
territory ever again.  Or else they just decided to avoid the area altogether
on their own.

Anyway, keep 'em flying.  Glad to see people are keeping the memories alive.

- Senortuffy
deadsongs.vue.205 : Truckin'
permalink #3 of 52: old softee (xian) Mon 3 May 04 10:09
Of course Burroughs also wrote "The Soft Machine" and I've been told
that the reference to Dallas was implying that the local
political/graft machine there was "soft" compared to some other places,
but that's probably just folk interpretation.
deadsongs.vue.205 : Truckin'
permalink #4 of 52: from MIKE CALDWELL (tnf) Sat 13 Nov 04 09:22

Mike Caldwell writes:

I am admittedly only a moderately recent fan of GD, and as a songwriter who's
into depth and meaning, I enjoyed reading a song which meant a lot to me,
"Truckin".  After reading all the spotted interpretations about various
verses of the song, I think I'm more inclined to draw a larger-scaled
conclusion to the point of the song.

Someone cleverly drew the "what...happened to Sweet Jane" line to the loss of
innocence from the sixties into the seventies, with marijuana usage becoming
scarier drug use for the populace, via blow, pills, and/or LSD (i.e. vitamin
C).  An astute point that I had not seen before.

This lyrical image sets the table for the whole song - the innocent, if not
idealistic, happiness of their otherworldly origins in hippy mid-60s San
Francisco, now exposed to the darker ramifications of the rest of the
country's abuse of the 60s drug and freedom movement.  They saw a cozy,
pharmaceutical utopia in their 1967ish world in California, and upon taking
out large tours of the country, they saw the darker world of what might go
wrong when people decide to "be free".  It might have been an earlier
snapshot of how various aspects of flower-era liberation might have backfired
in certain contexts, and to see how (such as their quick visit to Altamont)
that the real flower power happiness days were crashing to an end, and that
death, drug abuse, and crime were to be the new prevalent topics of partially
occupied dinner tables all across our gradually tarnishing land.

Mike Caldwell
deadsongs.vue.205 : Truckin'
permalink #5 of 52: Christian Crumlish (xian) Sat 20 Nov 04 11:16
I thought LSD was "Vitamin A"     :^)
deadsongs.vue.205 : Truckin'
permalink #6 of 52: David Gans (tnf) Sat 20 Nov 04 11:35

Or "vitamin L."
deadsongs.vue.205 : Truckin'
permalink #7 of 52: not up on Well process-queen gossip (izzie) Sat 20 Nov 04 15:30

I've always heard, "Dallas - got a soft blue sheen" and took it to mean
something about the oil/petroleum industry stuff in Dallas.  I'd never
actually looked at the lyric before.  I like my way better.
deadsongs.vue.205 : Truckin'
permalink #8 of 52: Hear me now (comet) Sat 20 Nov 04 18:42
Perhaps, but the Burroughs reference adds way more to the content.
deadsongs.vue.205 : Truckin'
permalink #9 of 52: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Mon 22 Nov 04 11:31
I always thought "reds, vitamin C and cocaine" was a satirically
barbed account of emerging bad habits habits as the childish pursuit of
love, happiness and enlightenment (whatever became of Sweet Jane?) was
left behind in favour of more grown-up interests. I have never hear
LSD nicknamed "vitamin C" and I would see it it out of context in that
list of nutritional supplements for the jaded.
deadsongs.vue.205 : Truckin'
permalink #10 of 52: David Gans (tnf) Mon 22 Nov 04 11:38
No way is Vitamin C LSD in this context.
deadsongs.vue.205 : Truckin'
permalink #11 of 52: neil (nlg) Mon 22 Nov 04 11:55
I always took it to mean just exactly that -- Vitamin C, which at the
time was just beginning to become what would eventually be the most
popular supplement on earth.  Lots of people into harder drugs that I
knew back then were popping Vitamin C like crazy.
deadsongs.vue.205 : Truckin'
permalink #12 of 52: Julie Ellen Anzaldo (jewel) Mon 22 Nov 04 12:19
I remember in the 80s, shortly before the emergence of Smart Drinks, folks
would take lots of B vitamins and vitamin C to offset the ravages of other
harder drugs.  I'll never forget this couple who told me what their vitamin
bill was keeping healthy while taking outrageous quantities of LSD.  It was
like a couple hundred bucks (in vitamins) for a three-night run.  Boy could
they dance, though!
deadsongs.vue.205 : Truckin'
permalink #13 of 52: neil (nlg) Mon 22 Nov 04 13:11
For heavy LSD use, I could see a b-complex once or twice a day, but
that should cost at most maybe $0.50 a day.  Really can't see any other
supplements doing much at all, though some heads report that melatonin
and/or 5-htp supplementation (both more readily available now than in
the 80s) can help make a second or third day of use in a row more
effective (the theory is that these supplements raise seratonin levels
in the brain).  But melatonin is extremely inexpensive, and the
research on 5-htp indicates that it probably never makes it past the

I'd love to know what else those folks were taking.  I can't even
begin to fathom what kinds of supplements one would need to take to run
up a tab of a couple hundred bucks for a three-night run.  Maybe --
maybe -- $40 or $50, but even that is hard for me to grok.  The most
expensive multi vitamin/mineral supplements would cost perhaps $5 to
maybe $6 or $7 a day.  Add to that a few other things (extra b-complex;
ester-c; a full-spectrum antioxidant complex with all the newest,
latest, most expensive ones; DHA/EPA; phosphatadylserine; gincko biloba
and other brain herbs; immunostimulants) -- add them all up, and I
still cannot get there.

Do you have any idea what they were taking?
deadsongs.vue.205 : Truckin'
permalink #14 of 52: Julie Ellen Anzaldo (jewel) Mon 22 Nov 04 15:48
Not a clue.  They probably told me, but it was going on 20 years ago now.
Funny what stays in your mind.  I remember that couple and that night like
it was yesterday. I think part of it was the source of the nutrients, and
for some reason the word "chelation" comes to mind (about minerals).  They
were telling me that the vitamins you buy in the store are all synthetic and
what you really need are ones extracted naturally, etc.
deadsongs.vue.205 : Truckin'
permalink #15 of 52: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Mon 21 Nov 05 07:32
Note Bob Hunter's recent comment (in the context of the Complete
Annotated) that "she lost her sparkle" was a reference to a 50's
Pepsodent commercial. I couldn't have told you the toothpaste brand for
the life of me, and I would have guessed 60's, since my family didn't
have TV in the 50s.
deadsongs.vue.205 : Truckin'
permalink #16 of 52: Lightning in a Box (unkljohn) Wed 23 Nov 05 09:30
You'll wonder where the yellow went
When you brush your teeth with Pepsodent!
deadsongs.vue.205 : Truckin'
permalink #17 of 52: Marked from the Day That I was Born (ssol) Wed 23 Nov 05 11:23
Oh, gopod! I remember that.
deadsongs.vue.205 : Truckin'
permalink #18 of 52: From GARY W. BURNETT (tnf) Sat 3 Dec 05 14:28

Gary Burnett writes:

To the editors of the Grateful Dead “Annotated” project:
                                                                 December 3,

Good site people!  Thanks for doing the hard work so I or anyone else can
enjoy the views and experience of “Dead” music and how it shapes our

I am taking some time writing and commenting on my views of the song
Truckin” and what it means to me. I would like to preface my remarks with a
statement on music itself and the influence of rock and roll especially since
1965. I am almost 40 now. I am sure this will probably not be read by many
people and of those few people I doubt will be over 30. So children take some
time and ponder this if you can. It may or may not help you in your future
music experience. Be true to yourself and music.

Music when produced by an artist is marketed to be sold. If you want music
listen free to the radio. If you like what you hear go buy it. When you have
purchased what the music industry has packaged for you; it is yours. You
cannot sell it or make a profit from it in any way outside permission
parameters clearly posted with the product. The only thing you control is its
space and time.

You also have the unique ability to create your own memories and emotions in
your brain when you hear it. It is meant to be heard, listened to and
pondered about. The musicians’ created it. It makes no difference what they
were thinking when they wrote it. What matters is what you think when you
hear it. It is interesting to know a little information about the origins and
general understanding of points of views from the creators, but they are not
in the car next to you when you hear it. You take the music you hear and
create your own emotion and experience. When you purchase the music that you
created memories of your own with, it is the only somewhat tangible
connection to that music that is yours and yours alone.

Rock and Roll has been around a little longer than I have. I did not take to
it from the beginning. I had emotions created in me that I enjoyed when I
heard the music. I love all kinds of music but the genre of Rock and Roll
(although the definition of Rock and Roll is relative) makes me happy and
always has and always will. It is ironic that the death of John Lennon helped
create the emotion in me that makes me feel good. I have been a rock and roll
fan since almost the hour of his death.

“Elvis” to “Snoop Dog”, “The Supremes” to “Nicklback”, “Little Richard” to
the ever present “Eric Clapton” rock and roll has been bought and yes it has
been sold. And yes children everyone sells out. It has been considered all
destroying, evil even. It is not today what it started as because it became
what it always was meant to be. A way to make money. Some artists may have
had good intentions in the beginning. Bob Dylan probably wrote music for the
sake of the music and the ability to make a statement free of charge because
it was worth doing for a grand noble cause. If I were his publicist I would
try and to continue that message. Someday though someone will use what he
wrote to pay their light bill, or buy a boat.

It is all something called media now. Media that is sold to the masses to
create capital and generate wealth. Woodstock may have been free for the
people. The ones with tickets even. “The Who” still got paid and that is what
America is all about. Rock and Roll is American. It may now be called media,
however, media is American and this country likes to buy and sell things and
if you can get through life without reading Marks or Lenin, buying and
selling it is not a bad thing. If you can’t, don’t buy, sell or support
America. Of course, by the way, stop listening and enjoying music move to
Canada or even Oregon and learn to beg from Americans.

I was looking for something that was going through my head this morning and
stumbled upon “The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics”. I read the lyrics to
“Truckin”. I knew the lyrics to”Truckin”. I read what the artists had to say
concerning what inspired the music and lyrics and then read all comments
posted. The following is a tribute to Ken Keasy and the Merry Pranksters.

Truckin is trucking. It means on the road of life. It does help to have
friends with you and bring an amplifier and microphone. You may not want to
paint your bus day-glo anything today though. But hey. Keep Truckin’!

Doodah man is probably wiser than you. However, you will be gone when he
wakes up and he forgot to tell you his advice doesn’t work for everyone.
Don’t worry. There is another doodah man in the next town with different

Everything in America as of this writing and the writing of “Truckin
including the cities towns by-ways and neon glow of its peoples is usually
typical of the American experience. You must always remember though your just
visiting when you’re truckin’ and truckin’ is not considered respectable in
all places believe it or not. Check their local paper.

I have a sad feeling Ken Keasy may have been alone in his final years even
though he may have been surrounded by true loving family. Those cats the
Merry Pranksters and Keasy got out the door and got going though and America
is better off because they did. But does this referenced verse keep them from
regretting anything? Since there is no mention of them in “The Annotated
Grateful Dead Lyrics” concerning “truckin’”. I wonder?

Doodah men play cards its true. I do not know however when they became
American Indians. It makes no difference really. The rule still applies and
America is obviously grateful to the American Indian for inventing cards and
gambling. I know I am.

Sweet Jane is still here and I picture her as “Wolfe” did with a gold tooth
shimmering in the sun coming out of the ocean. I doubt her name was Jane
anyway. A friend doesn’t say shame today though. They say intervention to
your other friends, hopefully. Out west they sometimes accidentally on
purpose bottle reds, vitamin C and cocaine and call it a health drink. Then
they say what a shame when it’s taken off the shelves.

If you get a tip they are going to bust your door in again. Get truckin. They
don’t need a warrant it seems today anyway. If you don’t get a tip you’re not
cool and you need to get truckin. If your there and they don’t have a
warrant, have plans because they will stay at the door till they get one. If
you’re there and they have a warrant and you didn’t get a tip and you have no
plans and you still think you’re cool. They will still come in. Dress
appropriately you may be on COPS.

Bourbon Street was built on a hill many years ago apparently by some far-
thinking alcoholics. When you truck to New Orleans stay there. It’s dry all
year long no matter how many hurricanes George Bush creates. Side note:
 Republicans have never controlled anything in New Orleans. Carlos tried to
get it all filled in and he was right. But I digress. Beware of Republican
hurricane makers and keep truckin’ to the DNC if you are thinking about any
of this seriously. And yes there are people there that look different than
you. It’s America.

There is a time and place for everything. It is hard to truck when married
with three kids. There are large recreational vehicles to make it more
comfortable but it’s hard to sell if painted day-glo colors and wanted in
three states for serious and minor crimes. So keep truckin’ till you don’t
want to. Then marry your wife or husband or significant other A-sexual
partner and take the kids you create or adopt or buy on vacation in a normal
colored R.V. to the Grand Canyon because its one of the few places that you
don’t have warrants.

If you have to patch your bones between your truckin’ adventures you are
either doing it all right or something wrong. It is no concern because this
means that you have truckin’ experience. Isn’t that what you wanted? You also
may be adding to much extreme sports to your truckin’ itinerary. There is
another reason. You may be almost 40 years old. Check your watch. Relax. Keep
trucking in spirit or ride it till it’s gone and has destroyed you. It’s
America, you choose.

You may be truckin’ to find where you belong. If you find it during your
truckin’ days you should go back there because someone will be truckin that
way to see you soon. You can yell at them to clean up the weird bus their
driving and tell them to turn that obnoxious loud sound off when truckin
around where you belong. When you are where you belong and someone trucks
your way you must forget all your truckin experience. It does no good to be a
settled down trucker trying to befriend a current novice trucker. I mean when
you were truckin, they had no settled down truckers to befriend you did they?
Just act 40 and try not to understand. Call the cops if you want to make a
memory for the novice trucker. That way when they get old they will go to the
Grand Canyon with their kids like you do. You will be dead when he gets there
with his so don’t worry about meeting them. When the novice trucker has
ignored all your complaints and the Cops have told you that you’re an old man
and should leave the younger generation alone and to stop calling the station
to complain something will have happened that the song explains better than
anything. You will realize that the reason the light shines on you sometimes
is because it has to shine on everyone eventually and of course it’s been a
long strange trip. What the song doesn’t say is that it always will be.

Gary W. Burnett
deadsongs.vue.205 : Truckin'
permalink #19 of 52: Gary Burnett (jera) Sat 3 Dec 05 14:39
Geez.  Another Gary Burnett.

First there's somebody with my name busted for heroin in New Orleans a
week ago, then yet another Gary Burnett appears here via David Gans.

I also know about a Gary Burnett who is a bowler somewhere, and
another Gary Burnett who is a Computer Science professor in England.

Maybe it's time I changed my name to something less common :-)

Gary D. Burnett
deadsongs.vue.205 : Truckin'
permalink #20 of 52: delicious hot sugary love (izzie) Sat 3 Dec 05 15:27

damn, jera - I was totally reading along and thought you'd written that.
deadsongs.vue.205 : Truckin'
permalink #21 of 52: Gary Burnett (jera) Sat 3 Dec 05 15:43
The giveaway, if you don't know my middle initial (and I don't think I
ever told you that, dear <izzie>), is the age.  Gary W. is almost 40,
and I am ... well ... a bit older.

And, although it's more than a little strange to contemplate another
DeadHead with my name, it's good to hear from you, Gary!
deadsongs.vue.205 : Truckin'
permalink #22 of 52: Lightning in a Box (unkljohn) Sat 3 Dec 05 15:59
I knew it was n't jera pretty quickly......I didn't think jera would spell 
Kesey incorrectly, being in education and all! 

Still, that was a fun read and I enjoyed it anyway.
deadsongs.vue.205 : Truckin'
permalink #23 of 52: David Dodd (ddodd) Tue 13 Dec 05 14:28
Just had an interesting phone call from someone who mumbled his identity (I
think he said "Phil") all about who Sweet Jane really was--someone in the
Dead scene way back, and how she went from this totally innocent thing to
this drug-addled person who was scarcely recognizable. It was the kind of
thing that, if I posted it on the web with a real name of a real person
attached, would put me in danger of a libel suit. Then we proceeded to have
a cordial discussion about how the lyrics mean different things to us at
different times, etc.
deadsongs.vue.205 : Truckin'
permalink #24 of 52: Christian Crumlish (xian) Tue 13 Dec 05 19:56
the archetype is more interesting than the gossip
deadsongs.vue.205 : Truckin'
permalink #25 of 52: truth is (comet) Tue 13 Dec 05 20:42
stranger than fiction


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