Way down in the south of France
All the ladies love to dance
According to Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir, this may be the worst song the Grateful Dead ever recorded. While speaking to music journalist/musician David Gans, Weir named the song when asked about any "spectacular failures of judgment," adding, "I didn't actually write that one – it just sort of happened. But it sure as hell didn't happen right."
The rest of the band must have agreed, because "France" was never performed live. The song is a low-water mark on an album that was largely discredited by fans who considered it a tawdry sell-out. In that regard, Dead percussionist Mickey Hart sort of agreed. "We were trying to sell out," he says in the liner notes for Beyond Description (1973–1989)
, "'Oh, let's make a single and get on the radio. Sure. We failed miserably once again. I mean, we could never sell out even if we tried, and we tried."
Despite the low regard for "France," it was released as the B-side to "Shakedown Street
." Like most Dead singles, "Shakedown Street" with its "France" B-side never caught on with mainstream radio and didn't chart.