The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)

Album: Grateful Dead (1967)
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Songfacts®:

  • This is the first song on the Grateful Dead's first studio album, and along with "Cream Puff War," the only original.

    Appearing in March 1967, "The Golden Road" was the perfect song to usher in the Summer of Love, when Hippies, Flower Children, counterculture folks, whatever-your-preferred-nomenclature flooded San Francisco's Haight Ashbury district.

    The lyrics in "The Golden Road" talk about a barefoot girl with "dancing in her feet" and the ability to live on the street (a trait identified with the Hippies). It also talks about taking a vacation and smoking (weed being a major part of the scene) and calls listeners to "come and join the party."

    There's probably no band more inextricably linked with the Hippies and the Haight than the Grateful Dead, and there's no Dead song that more accurately presaged the Summer of Love.
  • From 1984 to 1993, Blair Jackson and Regan McMahon ran a popular and well-produced Dead fanzine called Golden Road, named after this song.
  • Despite having this song in their repertoire since nearly the beginning, the Dead only performed it eight times, six during a roughly four-month span in 1967. The last time they played it was in 2015 at Chicago's Soldier Field. The first performance predated the Grateful Dead album, coming on December 18, 1965, at the Big Beat Club in Palo Alto, California.

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