Weird, strange and true

Stories inspired by the Grateful Dead and their songs

by Uncle John

Drawing by Justice Rose


Keith & Donna @ Winterland "Sweet Baby" Link: HERE

I first met Zion Rock Godchaux when he was about nine months old at his home in Stinson Beach, California. He is a picture perfect baby with jowls like his Dad, Keith Godchaux. He is in the kitchen sitting with a cookie, and I watch his little fingers play with the cookie, and he didn´t put it in his mouth, and he was  very content. Donna Jean Godchaux, his mom, shares how Jerry Garcia came over one day and started to draw "Zion´s thoughts". They superimposed Jerry´s art work over a picture of Zion, on the cover of their first album, Keith & Donna. That evening was so special. I am sitting with Keith in the living room while Donna is putting Zion to bed. She sings to her baby in complete surrender, powerful,  loudest, best ever sound. Like an angel she can sing! I felt goosebumps from her tremendous love and light, and I´m sure the whole town could hear her.

Now that Zion is grown, he has his own musical band, BOOMBOX´, and playing music with Kinsman MacKay, his brother from the same mother.




I am at The Palms on Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco one night when I notice the elusive reclusive Bear standing at the bar by himself. I go to the bar, stand next to him, and order a drink. Our backs are to the audience just before the start of a show. I pull out a joint, long before it was legalized, and ask Bear if he wants to smoke it with me right here at the bar. He gestures to me to put it away and says, “Without turning, look around the room and notice the people changing seats.” I immediately catch a glance of someone leaving their seat and on the other side sitting down. I see the same thing happen again, two people trading places, bar hopping in the same bar. “Detectives!” Bear says to me. “There´s legal counsel in the audience too, Barry Melton” who plays with Country Joe & The Fish.

Bear is the Grateful Dead´s Audio Engineer, and a clandestine chemist. We´re all here to see the Grateful Dead lyricist, Robert Hunter play. He´s in a corner on the smallest stage with Larry Klein. Hunter starts to sing a song he wrote with Barry Melton:

“I come here to pass the time, to court the ladies and taste the wine.”

He stops playing and says in the mic “Owsley, come on up here and help me sing this song.” As soon as he hears his name, he is like The Flash and disappears. The bartender says to me, “he went out the back door.”

Standing on the Moon

I'm not a Romeo
I do not want that fate
A simple twist you know
The fruit that she gave me I ate

Now we laugh and cry
Sometimes we wonder why
What happens with time
In the space where people die
Where it is no longer unknown
He is not alone anymore
I'm back at home
Where everyone looks at their phone

Going to the mountain
Where I remember about
Walking on the moon
Can I see your prints there?
I ask the invisible man
Humming a melody

"A beautiful view of heaven
But I prefer to be with you
Standing on the moon
I have no cobweb on my shoe
Standing on the moon
I feel so alone and blue
I see the Gulf of Mexico
As small as a tear
The coast of California
It must be somewhere over here"

I remember the last time I came to this mountain in Colorado
It's a long, steep journey to the Red Rocks amphitheater
Then you have to climb a thousand steps
The air is super thin
Furthur with Bobby Weir and Phil LESH are playing tonight
I'm near the backstage door, when the vocalist Jeff Pehrson comes walking and I introduce myself
He asks me if I have noticed the moon today
I agreed with him that it is amazing to see the moon in this place
He tells me he asked Bobby and Phil if they would do the song> Standing On The Moon <tonight, even though it was not on the song list
It's like he knows what I have in my pocket
"Did you see that moon?" he asks me again
 Jeff says he needs to get back on stage and mentions the moon again
In my pocket there is a book of matches of the Apollo 14 mission to the moon, from NASA
It has passed through space to the moon and back home
They say you can not light a fire on the moon
The flames of fire do not rise there
I give the book of matches to Jeff

I'm not running away
From what I feel inside
I'm letting it go
The girl with café eyes
She taught me about love
She showed me at night
She showed me the difference
Between darkness and light
When I was in ignorance and pain
She brought me change
God knows that I will never be the same



Art by Kelley/Mouse

One night at the Keystone club in Palo Alto, before the start of the Jerry Garcia Band show, I am looking for a restroom, extremely inebriated, and see a sign taped on a door that reads “No Fiddlers”, and I enter. In a small room is the band and crew and associates.  No one is speaking, not a word. I didn’t know if they were praying or meditating, or just finding the rhythm of peace, but my restless state of mind felt out of place in this quiet atmosphere. I was not a chronic alcoholic, but when I drank, it was to the extreme, and I was drunk.

In a play I wrote, "In Search Of The Candlemaker", I played the role of The Court Jester, and I fit that part this night. I wait, as people look at each other without talking. Suddenly, I start to tap dance. Odd thing, I never tapped dance before, though my brown-eyed girl, Treya, was a dance teacher. Then, while dancing, I sing this excerpt from a song on Robert Hunter´s album, TIGER ROSE :

Dance a hole right through the floorboard
Dance a hole right through your shoe
In the hour 'tween blood and roses
what else have you got to do?

Could you break the gray, cold vision
come to terms with what you can?
Proceed from there, if you're able
with just the ground on which you stand?
The past is not the only highway
Why go roll it out again?
The future's in the unborn river
of this morning's cloudless rain

In my lady's winter palace
dreamward as the summer lies
I mistook a flight of swallows
for the questions in your eyes

Broken words defending highways
Shining bright like April rain
Loving lies and wrong decisions
Yes, I guess it comes again
Yes, I guess it comes again

Dance a hole right through the floorboard
Dance a hole right through your shoe
In the hour 'tween blood and roses
what else have you got to do?

There’s a slight pause of silence when I stop, then Jerry Garcia speaks, “So!?” dragging the “O”. As soon as he speaks, talk and chatter gather volume throughout the room. Someone I don’t know asks, “Is that one of your songs?” “No, it’s not one of my songs,” I reply without mentioning Robert Hunter wrote it. There is a loud thunderous stomping sound behind me. I turn around and someone introduces himself to me as “Bigfoot from Alaska”. He tells me he walked in while Robert Hunter was writing “Brown-eyed Women” and that’s how he got into the song. He stomps his feet and shouts the song out to me: “Tumble down shack in Bigfoot County, snowed so hard that the roof caved in. Delilah Jones went to meet her God, and the old man never was the same again.” Jerry Garcia turns to me and says, “You’re like the seventeenth person in this room”, gesturing to the “Capacity 16 persons” sign on the wall, that I take as my cue to exit. I crawl back to the pit in front of the stage, feeling dejected and down, when Bob Dylan´s  song “Desolation Row” comes on the loudspeakers. It was the best comfort I could get for the fuzzy frame of mind I was in. Then the band comes onstage. They are all smiles and they open the show with Jerry Garcia singing “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)”. My spirit is immediately lifted from its dark sullen state. And looking around the audience, I see everyone´s spirit is uplifted. It becomes a cheery, merry evening, climbing out of the hole becomes my new dance, through the gate of music to truth in liberty, with love, honestly.



 There is something special and great about brown-eyed women, and I encourage y´all to check out this all-female Grateful Dead tribute band,

musicians from all different parts of the country

This is no novelty act:  They're all first-rate musicians who formed a strong musical alliance  and hit the road running.

An outstanding addition to this burgeoning musical community. 

David Gans, Musician, Author, Radio Host 



Image result for crazy fingers grateful dead

"Where do I stand spiritually?

Oh God!!! (with laughter)

Somewhere between Jesus and the devil."


“Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. But some of them said, By Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons. Jesus said to them: Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebub. But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.”

I´m sitting at a round table backstage between sets with members and crew from the Jerry Garcia Band. I’m having a lively erudite conversation with John Kahn who’s sitting next to me with Garcia on his other side. We’re discussing Carl Jung, memories, dreams and reflections, and how the circle is complete, whole, and the gold ring inside symbolizes perfection of the self. I turn the conversation and ask Kahn if he knows who the Devil is, but before he can answer, Jerry Garcia jumps in, “The Prince of Darkness, Beelzebub,” “an insult!” he adds. Jerry Garcia and John Kahn are amusing and amused carrying on a spirited banter talking about cults and the demons that possess them. Then Jerry says "Free John!". Garcia spells it out with his finger writing in the air, "F-R-E-E  J-O-H-N” and repeats “Free John!" and immediately they both break into hysterical laughter. I experience a spiritual transformation, healing, and awakening that night.


shakedown street

Lyrics by Robert Hunter Music by Jerry Garcia

“Since I'm passing your way today. Well, well, well, you can never tell.
I just stopped in 'cause I want to say, hey, Well, well, well, you can never tell.

I recall your darkness when it crackled like a thundercloud.

Don't tell me this town ain't got no heart.
Don't tell me this town ain't got no heart.
Don't tell me this town ain't got no heart.
Don't tell me this town ain't got no heart.
Don't tell me this town ain't got no heart.
Don't tell me this town ain't got no heart.
When I can hear it beat out loud!

Nothin' shakin' on Shakedown Street. Used to be the heart of town.
Don't tell me this town ain't got no heart. You just gotta poke around.”

--Shakedown Street/Grateful Dead  - Released after The Grateful Dead’s return from Egypt

When the Grateful Dead return to San Francisco from their historic trip to Egypt,  I am sitting in the Shady Grove café on Haight Street that evening when Jerry Garcia walks in with his guitar, and Merl Saunders follows him, surprising everyone there. Trey and I are seated at a table right in front of the stage. Word on the street travels quickly and the place is standing room only, full a few minutes later. Jerry jams on his guitar and breaks into "Expressway to Your Heart" and just blows us away with unbelievable love vibrations. I've never seen him this confident and energetic, making us all feel grateful to be here alive.



It took the Grateful Dead 22 years to get a top ten hit, “Touch Of Grey”,  from their album "In The Dark", on the Billboard charts. I share with my cousin,  this story about Bob Weir: "I'm riding with Bob Weir in his car in San Francisco one sunny autumn afternoon. We're talking about songwriting and how do you write a top ten hit. While he’s driving, Bobby is talking about having a hit on the radio and how the Grateful Dead would like to make one of those. Suddenly, he calls my attention to the car in front of us. The license plate reads HIT. "Is that God or coincidence?" Bob asks me.

One of the weirdest miracles I’ve seen in my life happened the night when I am driving my cousin, David Remillard home from a Jerry Garcia concert in Albany, New York.

David is a local firefighter who lives on the same farm he grew up on in Schaghticoke, N.Y. On the ride home, we talk about the Grateful Dead and God. I share with him that story and how the Grateful Dead are different from any other band because of their spirituality, songs referencing the Bible, their universal reach, and love for all the cultures of mankind.

We ride through Mechanicville, and Stillwater, then get on a long road leading to Schaghticoke. It’s a new moon and cloudy night and there are no lamps or lights out here. I’m talking to David about God because he’s become a disbeliever. I share stories about the Grateful Dead who have helped me understand without question, the existence of God and the Devil. Suddenly, the car stops and we’re out of gas. I’ve never seen it this dark outside and there are no vehicles in sight. We have a flashlight, get out in the darkness, and walk around the car in the middle of nowhere. On the side of the road is a clear plastic bottle with something of amber color in it and my cousin says “Johnny don’t touch that” It’s somebody’s pee, he`s sure. I uncap the container. “It’s gasoline” I tell him. “No it’s not, it’s somebody’s piss,” he replies. “We’ll see when we put it in the tank.” I respond. He is in shock when the car starts, and I remain amazed as the radio comes on and the Grateful Dead’s top ten hit “Touch Of Grey” is playing, Jerry Garcia singing “We will get by, we will get by, we will survive.” Every cloud has a silver lining and every silver lining a touch of grey.

“Is that God or coincidence?” I ask David


Stories in the vault:

Sugar Magnolia, uncle John´s Band, DEAL, SCARLET BEGONIAS, Going Down The Road Feeling Bad, I NEED A MIRACLE,

Casey Jones, The Music Never Stopped, Cumberland Blues, BLACK MUDDY RIVER

In Queue:

Estimated Prophet, Drums/Space, Eyes Of The World, Truckin´, Friend of the devil, Bertha, BOX OF RAIN