With his guitar, voice and incredible lyrics, Bob Dylan changed the music completely in the 60s, showing other artists that they could talk about anything in their songs, even using it as a protest tool.
During the next decades he continued to be a prolific writer, releasing more than 40 studio albums and selling an estimated amount of more than 145 records worldwide. Over the years he talked about many of his peers and once he mentioned a musician who in his opinion was superb.
The musician that Bob Dylan said was superb
In 1967, Bob Dylan had already 8 studio albums out and had influenced the music business, even being mentioned by The Beatles as an influence. In that same year a band that was formed in Palo Alto, California in 1965 released their debut album that didn’t was a huge success but represented the first step of a group that would become very successful, especially performing live concerts.
That band was the Grateful Dead, that mixed many other styles with Rock and Roll music but had as trademark the improvisation that could transform songs of their catalogue into something else when they were performing live. The band’s guitarist and singer Jerry Garcia was one of the most important elements of their sound and was the musician that Bob Dylan once called “superb”.
The Dead was active for 30 years, from 1965 until Garcia’s death in 1995, victim of a heart attack. At that time, Dylan who was a good friend of the band was asked by Rolling Stone magazine to talk about the loss. He said that Garcia was so great that it was impossible to measure his “greatness” and that he had “no equal”.
“There’s no way to measure his greatness. Or magnitude as a person or as a player. I don’t think eulogizing will do him justice. He was that great. Much more than a superb musician with an uncanny ear and dexterity. He is the very spirit personified of whatever is muddy river country at its core and screams up into the spheres. (Jerry) really had no equal.”
“To me he wasn’t only a musician and friend. He was more like a big brother who taught and showed me more than he’ll ever know. There are a lot of spaces and advances between the Carter family, Buddy Holly and, say, Ornette Coleman. A lot of universes. But he filled them all without being a member of any school. His playing was moody, awesome, sophisticated, hypnotic and subtle. There’s no way to convey the loss. It just digs down really deep,” Bob Dylan said.
The two artists knew each other quite well and Dylan even toured with the Grateful Dead in the late 80s. In 1987 their successful stadium happened in United States and Canada, with them performing separately and together at some of the shows. Two years after those concerts, in 1989, a live album called “Dylan & The Dead” was released, being produced by Jerry Garcia and John Cutler. The tracks were all Bob Dylan songs performed by him and the band from California.
He recently covered the Grateful Dead during his concert
As the Grateful Dead in their prime, Bob Dylan loves to perform live and as during the last decades, he continues to tour around the world. However, the Folk Rock legend doesn’t like to perform all his famous tracks. Often when he plays them, he changes the arrangement and transform the track into something new.
He also likes to include covers from other artists, including the Grateful Dead. Recently in June, 2022 he played “Friend of The Devil”, originally released by them in 1970. The song was first featured on their album “American Beauty” and the lyrics written by their collaborator Robert Hunter. Jerry Garcia and John Dawson were credited as the composers.
It was the first time since 2007 that Dylan played a song from them live. But since he doesn’t like that fans use their smartphones during his concerts, there is not video footage available. Only the sound recording can be found on the internet.
Garcia was also a big fan of Dylan’s work
The singer and guitarist Jerry Garcia was also an admirer of Dylan’s work, praising him even in the early days. Talking with Rolling Stone magazine in 1972, the musician praised the Folk artist. For him, Dylan could write about the changes that people were facing and that he could relate to his words. He also revealed that he really liked the album released in 1965. That record had famous tracks like “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”.
“Dylan was able to tell you the truth about that other thing. He was able to talk about the changes that you’d go through. The bummers and stuff like that. And say it in a good way, the right way. I dug his stuff really from ‘Bringing It All Back Home’.”
“Back in the folk music days I couldn’t really dig this stuff. But on ‘Bringing It All Back Home’ he was really saying something that I could dig, that was relevant to what was going on in my life at the time. Whether he intended it that way or not is completely unimportant,” Jerry Garcia said.