What a Long Strange Trip It's Been

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been is the second compilation album by American rock band Grateful Dead. It was released August 18, 1977 by Warner Bros. Records, three and a half years after the Skeletons from the Closet compilation. Both albums are subtitled "The Best of the Grateful Dead". Unlike the previous compilation, What a Long Strange Trip It's Been is a double album.

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been
A dimly-lit silhouette of a skeleton
Greatest hits album by
ReleasedAugust 18, 1977 (1977-08-18)
GenreJam rock, roots rock, psychedelic rock
LabelWarner Bros.
ProducerGrateful Dead and Paul L. Wexler
Grateful Dead chronology
Terrapin Station
What a Long Strange Trip It's Been
Shakedown Street
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic [1]
Christgau's Record GuideB[2]
Rolling Stone [3]



After the Grateful Dead had completed their contract with Warner Bros. and begun self-releasing their recordings, the label released Skeletons from the Closet. The compilation of tracks from their back catalog was successful, and when the band moved onto Arista Records in 1977 to record Terrapin Station, Warner Bros. released a second, larger compilation of tracks from the 1967–1972 period.

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been is a two-record set, with mostly studio tracks collected on the first disc and all live tracks on the second. Sixteen of the tracks are taken from previously released albums. Two tracks are single versions previously unavailable on album: the studio version of "Dark Star", and its B-side, the single mix of Anthem of the Sun's "Born Cross-Eyed". The Grateful Dead's most recognizable song at the time, "Truckin'," is the only track used on both compilations. "St. Stephen" appears again, though this time in a live version (an excerpt of the Live/Dead track). Of the nine original Warner Bros. albums, the only one unrepresented is Anthem of the Sun (aside from its associated single).[4]



The title comes from the bridge of "Truckin'", which ends with the stanza:

Lately it occurs to me
What a long strange trip it's been.

The cover art is darkly themed, with red, Old English Gothic script and a black skeleton graphic against a black background. The metallized skeleton (less distinct on some printings) is an air-brushed image by Rick Griffin, who had created several previous album covers for the band. The back cover features the rear view of the skeleton, with the text reversed. The inside of the gatefold features the first appearance of the iconic "dancing skeletons" graphic, rendered in white. Also featured are photographs of the band in concert. However, rather than dating from the Warner Bros. era, they are from October 1976 (see Dick's Picks Volume 33).

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been was released as a double CD in 1989, after sales of the band's albums had been revitalized by In the Dark. Like its predecessor compilation, it has achieved Platinum sales certification (in 2001).[5]

Track listing

Side one
  1. "New, New Minglewood Blues" (trad.; credited to McGannahan Skjellyfetti) – 2:35
  2. "Cosmic Charlie" (Jerry Garcia, Robert Hunter) – 5:31
  3. "Truckin'" (Garcia, Hunter, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir) – 5:06
  4. "Black Peter" (Garcia, Hunter) – 7:31
  5. "Born Cross-Eyed" (single version) (Weir) – 2:58
Side two
  1. "Ripple" (Garcia, Hunter) – 4:10
  2. "Doin' That Rag" (Garcia, Hunter) – 4:43
  3. "Dark Star" (Garcia, Hunter) – 2:41
  4. "High Time" (Garcia, Hunter) – 5:14
  5. "New Speedway Boogie" (Garcia, Hunter) – 4:05
Side three
  1. "St. Stephen" (Garcia, Hunter, Lesh) – 5:24
  2. "Jack Straw" (Weir, Hunter) – 4:53
  3. "Me & My Uncle" (John Phillips) – 3:04
  4. "Tennessee Jed" (Garcia, Hunter) – 7:12
    • from Europe '72; live, May 3, 1972, Olympia Theatre, Paris
Side four
  1. "Cumberland Blues" (Garcia, Hunter, Lesh) – 5:40
  2. "Playing in the Band" (Weir, Hunter, Mickey Hart) – 4:42
  3. "Brown-Eyed Woman" (Garcia, Hunter) – 4:38
  4. "Ramble On Rose" (Garcia, Hunter) – 6:02


Grateful Dead
Technical personnel


Certification Date
Gold[5] August 24, 2001


  1. ^ Thomas, Fred. "What a Long Strange Trip It's Been: The Best of the Grateful Dead". AllMusic. Retrieved September 28, 2018.
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: G". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved February 24, 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
  3. ^ Grateful Dead Album Guide Archived 2013-12-28 at the Wayback Machine, Rolling Stone
  4. ^ "What A Long Strange Trip It's Been: The Best Of The Grateful Dead". Dead Disc (discography). Retrieved February 10, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c "RIAA Gold & Platinum database - What a Long Strange Trip It's Been". Retrieved February 9, 2017.