The 2 Songs the Grateful Dead Never Got Around to Performing Live with Jerry Garcia

Sure, there were Grateful Dead songs the band didn’t like much. Jerry Garcia, in particular, had a few words about songs in the band’s earlier catalog, calling “‘Doin That Rag” an “unsuccessful” song, “New Speedway Boogie,” “a little bit dire,” and “Cream Puff War”—the only track on the band’s 1967 eponymous debut credited solely to Garcia—“totally embarrassing.”

Garcia also believed the band “failed” their 1970 Workingman’s Dead ballad “High Time,” saying “It’s a beautiful song, but I was just not able to sing it worth a s–t.”

Nevertheless, the band still played these songs live at one point during their time with Garcia.

Within the band’s repertoire—spanning 13 albums, from The Grateful Dead through their thirteenth and final Built to Last in 1989—were two songs that were never performed live by Grateful Dead, while frontman Jerry Garcia was still alive: “France” and “Pride of Cucamonga.” Here’s a look at the two songs that never made it into the live set.

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[RELATED: The Early Grateful Dead Song Jerry Garcia Said They “Failed]

“Pride of Cucamonga” (1974)

Written by Robert Peterson and Phil Lesh

Released on the band’s 1974 album From the Mars Hotel, “Pride of Cucamonga” was another of poet Robert Petersen’s contributions to the band. Petersen also wrote “Revolutionary Hamstrung Blues,” and co-wrote “New Potato Caboose,” and “Unbroken Chain,” with bassist Phil Lesh. Petersen became part of the Grateful Dead community and toured with the band in the spring of 1986, a year before his death.

Co-written with Lesh, who also took on lead vocals, “Pride of Cucamonga” is an autobiographical look at Petersen’s nomadic real life, often hopping freight trains and living on the road.

Out on the edge of an empty highway
Howling at the blood on the moon
Big diesel Mack come rolling down my way
Can’t hit that border too soon
Running hard out of Muskrat Flats
It was sixty days or double life
Hail on my back like a shotgun blast
High wind chimes in the night

Titled after Rancho Cucamonga, a city in San Bernardino county in Southern California, this Dead gem was never performed live by Grateful Dead. When Donna Jean Godchaux joined the band in ’72, Lesh pulled back from singing, and only added harmony to songs like “I Know Your Rider” and ‘Truckin.'” Years after Garcia died in 1995, Phil Lesh & Friends started playing the song by the late ’90s, before the newer iterations of the Grateful Dead added “Pride of Cucamonga” to their live sets.

The Dead, which included Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann, played it for the first time at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in 2004. The last time it was known to be played live was on May 4, 2009, during the Dead’s show in Rosemont, Illinois.

“France” (1978)

This steel drum, Calypso-pulsing track from Grateful Dead’s Shakedown Street (1978) was driven by a different beat from their norm. A duet between Bob Weir and Donna Jean Godchaux, the song was co-written by Weir, Mickey Hart, and Robert Hunter, and was featured on the band’s tenth album Shakedown Street in 1978. Shakedown Street was also the final Grateful Dead album to feature Donna and Keith Godchaux, who parted ways with the band several months after its release.

The song takes a gander into the frivolity of life in France.

Way down in the south of France all the ladies love to dance
Kick their heels up in the air snap their fingers for romance

While the gentlemen compare blonde or black or auburn hair
Check the motion and the style Oh, you know they take their while

Hey, to make the motion more complete, yeah, to make it more a treat
Club D’Jour is where to go come on down and see the show

When the rhythm’s really right you can burn it down tonight
When the singing’s really fine sweet as Spanish sherry wine

When the club can’t contain the beat it just rolls out in the street
Spills on down the avenue bringing dancers to their feet.

“France” was never performed live by Grateful Dead, but Phil Lesh & Friends did add it to their set in San Rafael, California in 2019.

Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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