Tox Tunes #98: Truckin’ (The Grateful Dead)

July 3, 2015, 6:53 pm

Surprisingly, “Tox Tunes” has featured only one Grateful Dead song so far. This weekend seemed a good time to catch up, as the remnants of The Dead play their farewell concerts at Soldier Field in Chicago in the biggest festival the Windy City has seen since smaccUS.

There are, of course, a number of drug references in the song, which relates the autobiography of the band through the early 1970s. On January 31, 1970, 19 members of the band and its touring party — including their live-in street chemist and sound engineer Owsley Stanley — were arrested in New Orleans for possession of marijuana:

Sitting and staring out of a hotel window
Got a tip they’re gonna kick the door in again
I’d 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 up — like a bowling pin
Knocked down — it gets to wearing thin
They just won’t let you be, oh no

Another verse also concerns drugs, but the exact meaning remains obscure:

What in the world ever became of sweet Jane
She lost her sparkle, you know she isn’t the same
Living on reds, vitamin C, and cocaine
All a friend can say is “Ain’t it a shame”

As far as I know, “sweet Jane’ has never been identified, and some fans believe she’s simply a fictional stand-in for the many people of that era who lost their minds — or lives — to drugs. Another interpretation is that “sweet Jane” is marijuana (as in Mary Jane) and that the lines describe those who had moved on to harder drugs after losing interest in smoking weed.

Related post:

Tox Tunes #45: Alice D. Millionaire (The Grateful Dead)


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