Grateful Dead — “Friend of the Devil” Live
Grateful Dead’s Music Lives On!
“Friend of the Devil” was written by Robert Hunter and composed by Jerry Garcia and John Dawson. It was often referred to as one of Grateful Dead’s greatest hits. Because it was a huge success, several other musicians created their cover versions of the song:
- Chris Smither
- Loggins and Messina
- Bob Dylan
- Tom Petty
- Counting Crows
- John Mayer
Though written with assistance from John Dawson of New Riders Of The Purple Sage, the lyrics are vintage Hunter: a fugitive being pursued by “twenty hounds” for an unnamed crime eludes the law by employing the services of the Devil, whom he bribes. In between, there is cave-squatting, polygamy, and denials of paternity: all the ingredients for a classic Badlands ballad.
There were artists who made a slower version while others preferred it to be uptempo. Nevertheless, THIS one is possibly the best — slow, sublime and indescribably beautiful. And Jerry Garcia plays with so much passion — you can see he’s on fire!
The song is acoustic, like most of American Beauty. It is known for the riff lead guitarist Jerry Garcia plays in the bass register, which is a descending G major scale (G F# E D C B A G). The song is among the most covered songs written by the Grateful Dead; Hunter later stated, “that was the closest we’ve come to what may be a classic song.”