Casey Jones (song)
|Song by Grateful Dead from the album Workingman's Dead|
|Released||June 14, 1970|
|Recorded||Pacific High Recording Studio
San Francisco, California
|Workingman's Dead track listing|
"Casey Jones" is a song by the American rock band the Grateful Dead. The music was written by Jerry Garcia, and the lyrics are by Robert Hunter. Hunter stated in a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone that "Casey Jones" didn't start out as a song, it just suddenly popped into my mind: "driving that train, high on cocaine, Casey Jones, you better watch your speed." I just wrote that down and I went on to whatever else I was doing, and some time later I came across it and thought, "That's the germ of a pretty good song." The song first appeared on the Dead's 1970 album Workingman's Dead. Subsequently it was included on a number of their live albums.
The Grateful Dead played "Casey Jones" in concert on a regular basis from June 1969 through October 1974. After that, they continued playing it live, but less often. In total they performed the song in concert more than 300 times.
"Casey Jones" is about a railroad engineer who is on the verge of a train wreck due to his train going too fast, a sleeping switch man, and another train being on the same track and headed for him. Jones is described as being "high on cocaine" (the song even makes a double entendre of advising Jones to "watch his speed"). It was inspired by the story of an actual engineer named Casey Jones. The engineer's exploits were also sung of in an earlier folk song called "The Ballad of Casey Jones", which the Grateful Dead played live several times. Casey Jones is also the subject of the song "Freight Train Boogie", by The Delmore Brothers.
"Casey Jones" has received significant airplay on progressive rock, album-oriented rock, and classic rock radio stations over the years, and so is one of the Dead's songs that is more recognizable by non-Deadheads.
The song was released as a downloadable track for the game Rock Band on March 4, 2008.
- "Casey Jones" is performed by Warren Zevon and David Lindley on Deadicated: A Tribute to the Grateful Dead, a 1991 album by various artists.
- The song is included in Pickin' on the Grateful Dead: A Tribute, a bluegrass album of Grateful Dead songs.
- Another bluegrass version of the song appears on the 2008 album Rex (Live at the Fillmore) by Keller Williams, Keith Moseley and Jeff Austin.
- A version by The Wailing Souls is included on Volume 1 of the reggae Grateful Dead tribute album Fire on the Mountain.
- Didi the Drummer from The JukeBox Band performs this song in a Shining Time Station episode: Too Many Cooks.
Notes and references
- "Casey Jones" on Deaddisc.com
- Scott, John W; Dolgushkin, Mike; Nixon, Stu. DeadBase XI: The Complete Guide to Grateful Dead Song Lists, 1999, DeadBase, ISBN 1-877657-22-0, p. 131, 159-160
- Dodd, David. "The Annotated "Casey Jones"". The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics. UCSC's Division of the Arts. Retrieved January 12, 2008.
- Keller Williams album for REX charity, news.jamradio.org, May 15, 2008, Retrieved May 7, 2008.
Browne, David. 'Robert Hunter On Grateful Dead's Early Days, Wild Tours, 'Sacred' Songs'. Rolling Stone. N.p., 2015. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.