For those who grew up and fell in love with the music and story of Bob Dylan, one chapter that often comes up is his collaborations with Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead.
Dylan and the Dead went on tour together and the jam band pushed Dylan to perform songs he hadn’t in decades. Well, Dylan added recently to the story of his relationship with the band.
On Saturday night (June 11), Dylan ended his show at the Fox Theater in Oakland, California with a cover of the band’s hit, “Friend of the Devil,” instead of his standard closer of late, “Every Grain of Sand.” The performance marked the first time he’d played the song since 2007 and the first time he’s changed his setlist on his current tour in the past 37 shows.
Check out the audio from the performance below.
Dylan and the Dead toured in 1987 with the Dead playing as his backing band. When Garcia died, Dylan made a rare public appearance at Garcia’s funeral. Said Dylan at the time, “There’s no way to measure his greatness or magnitude as a person or as a player. I don’t think eulogizing will do him justice. He was that great—much more than a superb musician with an uncanny ear and dexterity. He is the very spirit personified of whatever is muddy river country at its core and screams up into the spheres. He really had no equal.”
Dylan then continued, “To me he wasn’t only a musician and friend, he was more like a big brother who taught and showed me more than he’ll ever know. There are a lot of spaces and advances between the Carter family, Buddy Holly and, say, Ornette Coleman, a lot of universes, but he filled them all without being a member of any school. His playing was moody, awesome, sophisticated, hypnotic and subtle. There’s no way to convey the loss. It just digs down really deep.”
Dylan first played “Friend of the Devil” on August 27, 1990 in Merrillville, Indiana. It was in and out of his setlist for the next two decades. On Saturday, Dylan didn’t comment why he performed the song at the show, but it likely had something to do with being near Garcia’s hometown of San Francisco.
Photo credit FRED TANNEAU/AFP/GettyImages