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Cartoon Sunday With The Grateful Dead


I’ve managed to reference Disney once in talking about the Grateful Dead, and I’m happy to be able to do it again. In my research on the real life Casey Jones I came across a 1950 Disney cartoon called, The Brave Engineer. Obviously, as the date tells us, this cartoon refers to the original song, The Ballad of Casey Jones, and not to the Grateful Dead’s cocaine-loving version of Casey in Casey Jones. Nevertheless, this is a good example of how folklore sneaks into our culture, takes a good grip, and refuses to leave and how the Grateful Dead play an important part in that role.

Of course, Disney added some slapstick flair and put a happy ending on the tragic tale for the sake of the kiddies. I wonder what the Water Valley Casey Jones Railroad Museum would have to say about this distorted depiction. As you may recall, their website states,

“Probably the oddest attempt at a song using the Casey Jones name was written for The Grateful Dead (words by Robert Hunter; music by Jerry Garcia), an over-the-hill rock and roll band with a cult-like following. It was more about cocaine than railroading and is hardly worth repeating here.”

Turning Casey into a buffoon and denying his death seems like just as much of a disservice, if not more so, if you ask me. What do you think?

Also interesting is the nursery rhyme influence often heard in Grateful Dead songs. For more about this I recommend reading David Dodd’s article, Grateful Goose by clicking here.

Happy Sunday everyone.

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“Sleepy Alligator in the noon day sun,
Lyin’ by the river just like he usually done.
Call for his whiskey, he can call for his tea,
Call all he want to, but he can’t call for me.”


4 Comments leave one →
  1. Jay permalink
    05/02/2010 10:39 pm

    Over the hill? This from a site that also features a “Miss Casey Jones” pageant winner ;)

  2. 05/03/2010 5:21 am

    Yeah, I screamed “what” when I read ‘over the hill,’ too.

    But this is a great post about a great song!

  3. 05/04/2010 3:50 pm

    I think Disney is evil! They present a distorted view of everything and it’s scary how much of the media they own.

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