New Speedway Boogie

Lyrics: Robert Hunter
Music: Jerry Garcia

Recorded on Workingman's Dead. The only dated tracking sheet from the Workingman's Dead sessions that survives shows the Grateful Dead working on this song, then labelled “New Speedway Blues” at Pacific High Recording on March 3rd, 1970.

Please don't dominate the rap, Jack
If you got nothing new to say
If you please, don't back up the track
This train's got to run today

I spent a little time in the mountain
Spent a little time on the hill
I heard some say "better run away"
Others say "better stand still"

Now I don't know but I've been told
It's hard to run with the weight of gold
Other hand I heard it said
It's just as hard with the weight of lead

Who can deny? Who can deny?
It's not just a change in style
One step done and another begun
In I wonder how many miles?

I spent a little time on the mountain
Spent a little time on the hill
Things went down we don't understand
But I think in time we will

Now I don't know but I was told
In the heat of the sun a man died of cold
Do we keep on coming or stand and wait
With the sun so dark and the hour so late?

You can't overlook the lack Jack
Of any other highway to ride
It's got no signs or dividing lines
And very few rules to guide

I spent a little time on the mountain
Spent a little time on the hill
I saw things getting out of hand
I guess they always will

Now, I don't know but I've been told
If the horse don't pull, you got to carry the load
I don't know whose back's that strong
Maybe find out before too long

One way or another (note a)
One way or another
One way or another
This darkness got to give
(a) in early versions (eg 20 December 1969), the "one way or another" portion serves as a refrain, sung at the start of the song and after each set of three verses.

Grateful Dead Recordings
     Date Album
     20 Dec 1969 Dave's Picks Volume 6 (note 1)
     21 Dec 1969 Dave's Picks Volume 6 (Bonus disc)
     26 Dec 1969 Dave's Picks Volume 43
     18 Apr 1970 Family Dog at the Great Highway
      1 May 1970 Fallout From The Phil Zone
     studio 1970 Workingman's Dead (note 2)
     studio 1970 Workingman's Dead (alternate studio version) (note 3)
     14 May 1970 Road Trips Vol 3 No 3
     15 May 1970 Road Trips Vol 3 No 3 (early show)
      7 Jun 1970 30 Days Of The Dead (2016)
      Jul 1970 Festival Express (DVD)
     20 Sep 1970 30 Days Of The Dead (2010)
     17 Mar 1991 30 Days Of The Dead (2017)
     17 Jun 1991 Giants Stadium 1987, 1989, 1991 Boxed Set (CD and DVD)
     12 Jun 1992 30 Days Of The Dead (2022)
Phil Lesh and Friends Recordings
     19 May 2006 Live At The Warfield
Bob Weir Recordings
     Jun 2021 Live In Colorado Bob Weir & Wolf Bros
(Plus live recordings by The Dead, Furthur, Dead & Company, Ratdog, Phil Lesh & Friends etc not listed here. See Grateful Dead Family Discography for a full list.)
Other Recordings
     Date Album Recorded By
     1989 Doorway To The Angels Juggling Suns
     1996 DeadBeats Acoustic DeadBeats
     1998 Backbone Backbone (Bill Kreutzmann)
     2000 California Stories The Cyrus Clarke Band
     2000 Dare To Dream Toni Brown
     1 Dec 2001 Dice With The Universe Trichromes (Bill Kreutzman)
     2004 Altamont Diary Black Cab
     19 Jun 2004 Live: Morrison, CO Robert Hunter (note 4)
     2005 Jerry Jams, Jerry Cares Toni Brown Band
     2006 Cat Catherine Russell
     24 Oct 2006 Fall Tour 2006 Rhythm Devils
     2007 At Fine Arts Center, UMass The American Beauty Project
     2007 Rhythm Of Hells: Songs Of Angels History Jimmy Cornett
     2007 Rhythm And Bows Randy Sabine
      2 Aug 2007 Live Butter: Ashland, OR Hot Buttered Rum (note 4)
      8 Sep 2007 Live: George's Majestic Lounge, Fayetteville, AR Steve Kimock & Friends
     2008 Fennario: Songs by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter Emory Joseph
     2008 Live in Chicago Family Groove Company
     2008 Patience Pays Rachel Sedacca
     2008 Live In Chicago Family Groove Company
     23 Feb 2008 Live: St Louis, MO Yonder Mountain String Band (note 4)
     2009 Emily Watson Emily Watson
     2010 At Page Auditorium, Duke University The American Beauty Project
     2010 Dead To The Core Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers
     2010 Listening Booth:1970 Marc Cohn
     2011 Persuasions of the Dead The Persuasions
     11 Feb 2011 Live: Athens, GA Widespread Panic (note 4)
     15 Dec 2011 Live: San Francisco, CA Chris Robinson Brotherhood
     2012 Country Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad
     12 Jul 2012 Live At The Iridium Donna Jean Godchaux Band
     2013 First Rehearsals Sycamore Slough String Band
     2013 The Grateful EP Jackie Greene
     2013 Move Me Brightly Bob Weir et al (DVD - bonus track)
     2014 The Gravel Project The Gravel Project
     30 Oct 2014 Live: New York, NY The Infamous Stringdusters
     17 Apr 2015 Live: Morrison, CO Disco Biscuits
     23 Sep 2015 Live: Philadelphia, PA Jackie Greene (note 4)
     2015 The Promised Land Sagol 59 & Ami Yares
     2015 It's A Hand-Me-Down David Gans
     2015 Songs Of Their Own Beau Sassers Escape Plan
     2016 Deal Wake The Dead
     2016 Day Of The Dead Courtney Barnett
     2019 Dead Air Strong Water
     2019 Phantom Ships With Phantom Sails Live Dead '69
(1) also played on 30 Days Of The Dead (2011)
(2) also on the compilation What A Long Strange Trip It's Been. Released as the Grateful Dead 7" single volume 5.
(3) included as a bonus track on remastered album, first released as part of the box set The Golden Road (1965-1973)
(4) The list above includes only one illustrative example of the series of live recordings by these bands. For a full list see the Grateful Dead Family Discography.

Hunter says in "Box Of Rain" that this was written "as a reply to an indictment of the Altamont affair by pioneer rock critic Ralph J Gleeson. This is--I believe--a portion of the article that set Hunter off:
"Why did Jagger and Cutler put the Angels with a truck load of free beer in charge of stage security? Why did the Grateful Dead people and other locals involved go along with the idea? Why Saturdays episode? I suspect it is because, just as their parents 25 years ago thought America was full of Comanches scalping stagecoach riders and Capone gangsters shooting passers-by on Chicago streets, Jagger and Cutler think San Francisco is the Hells Angels and the Pranksters since those are the ones who went to London last year and first broached the idea of the Stones playing free here.

"Now it has ended in murder. And that was a murder, not just a death like the drowning or the hit-and-run victims. Someone stabbed that man five times in the back. Overkill, like Pinkville. Like a Chicago cops reaction to long hair.

"Is this the new community? Is this what Woodstock promised? Gathered together as a tribe, what happened? Brutality, murder, despoliation, you name it. The name of the game is money, power and ego, and money is first and it brings power."

Further Information
For an online discussion of the lyrics to this song see the deadsongs.vue conference on The Well.
For more information on recordings see Matt Schofield's Grateful Dead Family Discography
For information on references in the lyrics see David Dodd's Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
For online chords and TAB see
For sheet music, see:
          Grateful Dead Authentic Guitar Classics Volume 1 (guitar TAB)
          Grateful Dead Songbook Volume 1 (piano arrangement)
          Garcia/Hunter Songbook (vocal line and chords/TAB)


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