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UNCLE JOHN'S NOTES

Ain´t no time to hate

Barely time to wait

 

 

 

WAKING THE DEAD

 

It is just after noon on a sunny Saturday when I call Bob Weir at his home.

¨Hi¨, I hear a voice through a fog.

¨Oh, I´m sorry, did I wake you up?¨ as I introduce myself.

¨That´s OK,¨ answers Bob Weir. ¨Where are you?¨

¨I´m in downtown San Francisco.¨

¨Where can I come and pick you up?¨ Bob asks

¨Project One, I´ll be outside, Grace Alley, Tenth Street.¨

He sets the approximate time.

 

Bob Weir´s songwriting partner, John Barlow, tells me about Bob. ¨It takes dynamite to get me up. That line really does describe him¨ John Barlow says to me at Bar Cross Ranch in Wyoming, reflecting on the line from their song ¨I Need A Miracle Everyday¨.

 

 

UNCLE JOHN reads poetry to remember Robert Hunter and John Barlow

Epilogue* ¨THE JOURNEY¨

@ Sweetwater Music Hall, Mill Valley, California, October 21, 2019, 8 PM

 

 

When the moment comes

Who has seen days as dark as these?
Darkness is like a deafening silence
Living in maladaptive times When the time comes, please wake me up

The tension was deeper than could be written
I don't know how horrible it has been for some
Tonight there is assistance from a distance
Light that shines for our existence
No matter where we go, there will always be
Eternity
Death is an aberration
Enoch tells Elijah in translation
For some it is a journey

When the moment comes
Close to your heart
There is a spirit in us, an inspiration
You can go there and tune in
To the grace of being human
Look around the world now
That appears after a reasonable wait
You can love the light wow
Experience the great
When the moment comes

Do you know the difference
Between freedom for the pursuit of happiness & liberty
There's a place
Where there is no
Disappointment or stress
Only irony
And only success
Does not ask for anything
The world is fragile, you can't deny it
It is a child with a mother
And your sister is like an olive tree that won't fall tonight
The wind will call at night
Pay attention and do the right thing
It is a special moment taking care of your body
Seek the kingdom of God
Coming up
Understand the eyes of love
Produce the fruit of light and freedom
It's not him or her or they or me
Only Jesus can set you free

 

Remembering with grief and gratitude

Robert Hunter

by Uncle John

 

I have many fond memories of Robert Hunter and great gratitude for his treasure chest of lyrics. The Grateful Dead band member, I remember the poet, playful, trumpeter, vocalist, songwriter, musician, artist, father, lover, joker, scholar, hermit and invisible man.

 Hearts Bubbling From Vase of Roses Animated Clipart

We are poets on the crossroads of life. We are both crossing Haight Street from opposite sides at the same time and there is no traffic in the road, and I have a rose and he stops to smell the rose and Robert Hunter calls me by name.

Hearts Bubbling From Vase of Roses Animated Clipart

The first time I meet Robert Hunter backstage, he puts out his hand and says to me,

¨Shake the hand

That shook the hand…¨

 

 Hearts Bubbling From Vase of Roses Animated Clipart

 

Monday night, September 23, Robert Hunter´s spirit left his body on Earth. I am at the library that evening listening to Berkeley poet laureate Rafael Jesus Gonzalez talk about the sounds of poetry, that poems are meant for more than the pages they are written on. They belong in songs, or uttered, spoken, tasting the words, and sharing in a way we can all understand. He talks about taking an instrumental song and putting words to it, as Robert Hunter can.

 

I recall when Hunter stops me at the Shady Grove one night to share with me his flash about dying. ¨Phil Lesh´dad was dying and Phil brought me a tape of music. When I listened to that music the words fell from my mind to the page in one uninterrupted flow.¨ The song is ¨Box Of Rain¨, the last song the Grateful Dead played before Jerry Garcia past away.

 

 

Hearts Bubbling From Vase of Roses Animated Clipart

Robert Hunter and his band Comfort is the opening act for the Jerry Garcia Band at the Keystone in Palo Alto. After the Garcia Band set, about thirty people crowd into a small room backstage. Robert Hunter turns to Jerry Garcia and says, "Hey man, you sounded great tonight!" "You sounded really good yourself" Garcia says back at him. "Did you hear 'Roses'? and Robert Hunter breaks into the song before Jerry can answer. "....She had ribbons, ribbons, ribbons in her long brown hair..." He repeats his question to Garcia and continues the song a capella..."I don't know, maybe it was the roses, All I know is I could not leave her there....." Donna Jean sang this song on stage with Hunter and his band tonight, a very special moment, and Hunter's voice rings through the room with sweet clarity.

Hearts Bubbling From Vase of Roses Animated Clipart

One night I capture Hunter in a small hallway and I have an acoustic guitar in my hand and ask if I can play a song for him. He says yes, ¨if you whisper it in my ear¨

I lean up close to his ear and sing in a whispering voice a song I wrote:

¨Well I tried to catch your words that seem

To keep on talking to

The man willing to listen

Found the song was really you

I picked up the cards and came on down

To where the sources be

I saw your heart shining through their faces

And heard you mirroring me¨

 Hearts Bubbling From Vase of Roses Animated Clipart

It is the night the Grateful Dead song composers Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia play together for the first time. It is pouring rain in Berkeley. Robert Hunter surprises us with an old spiritual Christmas standard ¨It Came Upon A Midnight Clear¨.

Hours after this show, after midnight, the sky clears under a full moon. I am driving with my wife and Kim McCarthy down this narrow alley in Berkeley and we encounter a car with its hood up. I stop and get out, and the girl driving the car says she needs a jump start. ¨Sorry,¨ I say, ¨but I don´t have any cables¨. Suddenly, a man steps out of the shadows holding battery cables. It´s Robert Hunter! ¨Here, take a hit off of him,¨ he says to the girl as he hands her the cables.

He turns and asks me, ¨Got any booze?¨

Hearts Bubbling From Vase of Roses Animated Clipart

 

I had been following the Grateful Dead for about two years and moved to San Francisco to work as a high school poetry teacher. I knew an artist, K.C. Jones, who lived in the same building I did. Some of my students were taking art classes with him. I would hang out with K.C. while he painted and I would write poetry. I am having a conversation about the Grateful Dead with him one day, and in particular, Robert Hunter. I said to K.C. ¨You know, I don´t think Robert Hunter exists. He never shows up onstage or in photographs and I think he´s the Fig Newton of Jerry Garcia´s mind.¨ K.C. jumps up,  goes to his record box and pulls out Workingman´s Dead, points to the last man in line next to Garcia on the cover. ¨That´s Robert Hunter!¨ he says. He puts the record on the turntable.  ¨Uncle John´s Band¨ comes on.

 

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NEW DAWN

Sunrise Over Hills Animated Clipart

A new dawn begins We can't stay the same
Time to wake up and understand
And understand
The changes show
Yes, it's hard, I can't stand it
Until you realize you'll be a better man

He knows you by the Spirit
He looks inside your soul
And knows how you are
And what do you like
With your eyes on a goal

You know I can't stand it
When I don't understand what she says
You know I can't stand it
When I don't know how to say it
I do not understand

When they give you power and choice
And we can't distinguish our flesh
I don't have to touch her to heal her with my voice
The heart is not damaged
Who cares about your happiness
The heart is not damaged
My Lord protects you
Of any harmful effect

A new dawn begins
We can't stay the same
It's time to meet and make it stand
The changes in the coming weather
Show that the harvest is at hand

When you fulfill your purpose
Who calls you by name
And it gives you vision
From everywhere and above
To raise you in love

New dawn begins cannot remain the same
It's time to help your family clan
The changes in the coming weather
Show that the harvest is at hand

There are no musical chairs
Watching you dance in the air
Only your eyes can follow the time
Look at the muse make it rhyme

A new dawn begins We can't stay the same
Time to harvest and understand
And understand
The changes show
Yes it's hard to take it
Until you realize you're a better man

 


PLAYING DEAD

 

 

Deal

I am sitting on a bench with Keith Godchaux at his baby grand piano. I have a deck of cards in my hand. ¨Do you believe in magic?¨ I ask Keith.

¨Definitely!¨ he answers.

 

Bird Song

¨All I know is something like a bird within her sang¨ Jerry Garcia sings.

It is Jerry who helps me understand this mission of love to find the secrets of Divine immortality. It´s all about a river and a bird. One night Garcia, backstage at a show,  points to the Gibson guitar and asks me to play a song for him.  ¨You don´t have to plug it in¨ he says. I pick it up to play, though I´m not well versed on the guitar, and I sing  to him: 

¨When moon drops that come from remembering you looking into my eyes,

 When you come around again to sing like a bluebird flies,

When I walk beside your footsteps that come from heaven by the sea...¨

 

Playing In The Band

I am having brunch with Phil Lesh in San Francisco, and someone at our table asks him, ¨Do you ever listen to the Grateful Dead on the radio?¨

¨No,¨answers Phil

 ¨If I want to hear the Dead, I play¨ he says.

 

The Wheel

¨Bob Weir has both hands on the Wheel, and I´m sitting by his side,

¨The faster I go, the rounder it gets¨, Bobby says to me, reminiscing about riding in the open speedway of the desert, playing in the sand.


to be continued


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All Along The Watchtower

 MUSIC.aero

 

 

*

 

Tribute to the sun and the sea
Tribute to the sand and the wind
Talking about you and me
Getting back together again
And again and again

Ten years to make them sailors
Twenty to bring them home
And all the time in between
Where they belong

Burning a trail to your door
You don't have ever have to worry no more no more no more enough no more
Let all your burdens fly on by
And come with me up on high
Like a star shining bright
In the night
With the light
 

Hoist a flag boy atop your ship
We'll take a trip beyond the Mississipp
With all that time
Invested in you
Like a dream coming through
Coming true
Awakening you
Arousing you
Awakening you

Tribute to the sun and the sea
Tribute to the sand and the wind
Talking about you and me
Getting back together again
And again and again

 

"they Love Each Other
Lord, You can see it's true"

 

DAYSONGS.com

Poetry for KIDS in English & Spanish

 

 

 

 

CURRENT

HALLELUJAH

PRESSING ON

FRANKLIN'S TOWER

THUNDER ON THE MOUNTAIN

TRUMPETS OF THE OCEAN

ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER

THINGS HAVE CHANGED

 

 

 

Raro

Música

Bob Weir & Phil Lesh 
UNCLE JOHN'S BAND

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GARCIA BIRTHDAY BAND

@Terrapin Crossroads, 4/7/2018

TRUMPETS OF THE OCEAN

Lyrics by Robert Hunter

 

The day the constitution became a metaphor
I was laying tile on my lady's kitchen floor
A lot of troubled thoughts ran through my mind
But I kept laying tile in the same straight line

Where were you the eleventh of November?
I was in the bathtub sleeping off a bender
A double shot of hell and freedom in a blender
How can I forget what I really can't remember?

The trumpets of the ocean howl, let them roar
Let them wail, let them soar
Thunder in the belly of the whale never more

The day that Elvis died I was driving in my ride
A friend in a Ford waved me over to the side
Said "I just heard the news on the radio"
I said "are you sure?" she said "I don't know"

Walk a crooked mile, hell, you might as well walk ten
Meet your old self coming round the corner of a bend
Nothing new here, why should we pretend?
The trumpets of the ocean in a broken-hearted blend

The trumpets in the midnight, trumpets in the dawn
Trumpets of the queen's rook, trumpets of the pawn
Trumpets in the stratosphere, trumpets of the rock
The trumpets of the sky boat, sailing into dock

Trumpets of the backbone, trumpets in the air
Trumpets of the black lace ribbon in your hair
The trumpets in the undertow rock you off to sleep
We'll fall in love tomorrow, Juanita, don't you weep

The trumpets of the ocean howl, let them roar
Let them wail, let them soar
Thunder in the belly of the whale never more

 

STREET PERFORMER

BOB WEIR in front of the Bananas music store in San Rafael, California June 27, 2018

in between gigs with DEAD & COMPANY

 

 

THE RIVER OF LIFE

To be concluded

Watchin' the river flow

 lookin' to see

 painting a picture

 still as can be

Playin’ with the band

This is not about gossip and ugly rumors, but about the personal side, the spiritual and positive, the witty and wise, and the musical legacyof the Grateful Dead

 

 

THE TREE OF LIFE

Playin' In The Band

continues

Ain't no time to hate, barely time to wait...

Watching The River Flow

Phil Lesh & Terrapin Family Band

"Playin' In The Band"

TREE OF LIFE

From the beginning,

This time

 


 

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"Take Me Out To The Ballpark"

 Photo: Joe Alper

Bob Dylan, Suze Rotolo & Lena Spencer January 1962

One of Bob's earliest musical performances is at the Caffè Lena, Saratoga Springs, New York

 January 1962

 

 

 

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FIRST SOUNDS RECORDED IN INTERSTELLAR SPACE

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Playin' With the band

LIVE PERFORMANCES & DEAD REHEARSALS


TRUMPETS OF THE OCEAN

Lyrics, ROBERT HUNTER

 

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Bob Weir & Trey Anastasio

"Million Reasons"

Why Bob Dylan Won The Nobel Prize

 

You can call him author & read his book

You can say he’s this great writer or that doctor with the look

You can call him the actor & see him in a movie role

If the artist were a wheel we’d pay to see him roll

He’s the best at what he does whatever that may be

Playin’ the guitar & harp & keys to history

Who can say it better like the wind that blows

He's a bandleader who knows life is like a rose

 

Students of his comparative literature

Recognize him by the sound of his signature

Beat on the instrument of present communication

Launching poems transformed by rhythm

Into songsheets on the workstation

 

As we listen to him in our English class

We write with inspiration & wise sass

Bring our poems wherever we go

Motivating us to keep on as we grow

 In the shadow reflect 'n glow

BOB DYLAN @ Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York

June 13, 14 & 15, 2017

Watching The River Flow

Phil Lesh & Terrapin Family Band

"Playin' In The Band"

June 1 & 2 Terrapin Crossroads Grate Room, San Rafael, California

June 24, Fox Theatre, Boulder, Colorado

The Rock Collection

June 23, Terrapin Crossroads Grate Room, San Rafael, California

Dead & Company

June 3 & 4 Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, California

June 20 Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, New York

June 30 Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois

Review by Uncle John

posted @ MUSIC.aero

 

 

 

In the land where the lily and rose bloom all year time and again

Where God sends his angels to heal the spirits of men

Looking out toward the calm sea and bright star

Dancing then waiting and wondering how you are

 

Turning a page and letting the loose ends mend

Oh how good to hear but let us not pretend

Let the sun shine be kind the kids said

Pray & listen to the Grateful Dead

 

Cast him an estimated forerunner, member, conductor and engineer

Triangular guitars and wheels to steer

A giant eye with twenty narrows and seven hills to climb

Brightens up our time

Keeping back in shape

Little made up rhyme

With bandana & cape

Ready before and after the break

 

 


EXCERPTS from

LAST FLASH OF THE GRATEFUL DEAD

FIVE DAYS & A FEW FLASHBACKS

 

"What I want to know

 Where does the time go?"

(Robert Hunter/Jerry Garcia)

"Lord, the band kept us so busy, we forgot about the time."

(John Perry Barlow/ Bob Weir)

This work is a contemporary narrative with a musical motif, narrated by the author with personal testimony, and dialogue with  artists, authors, musicians, dancers, singers, poets, songwriters, and stars. This journalistic  odyssey observes the world's most interesting band, whose brilliant creative performances, and individual intellectual insight, provide us with this ostentatious modern day literary account. On the road & at home with the Grateful Dead and their family of bands and musical company, this book records a distinctive recital of spiritual events, revealing a new orchestrated portrait, a sculptured arrangement of golden memories. There is nothing like a Grateful Dead concert! It is a unique and unconventional experience.

 

FARE THEE WELL

Celebrating 50 Years of the Grateful Dead

Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, California

1st day June 27, 2015

It is early evening in Santa Clara, California, 2015, the first day of the Fare Thee Well shows, and the Grateful Dead take the stage in the twenty-first century for the first time. There is nothing like a Grateful Dead concert! It’s a special, timeless feeling, intuitive moment, unity of spirit, gathering of the souls, grounded in vibration,  with light and sounds to stimulate our senses, balance our emotions, displace our worries and fears, opening the well of inner kindness, smiling in the peace of our moments shared. The band jams into “Truckin” singing five of the hundred verses Robert Hunter wrote with the band on the road.  “Sometimes the light’s all shining on me. Other times I can barely see. Lately, it occurs to me, what a long, strange trip it’s been.”

 

The last days of the Grateful Dead are full of the first. Their sound is distinct, loud and unique. They're not just another rock ‘n roll band playing, but a musical collaraboration of intuitive consciousness, telepathic notes, energetic stimulation, stability,  and balance we interpret in dance and spirit. We all recognize the Grateful Dead and their unique ability to be harmonious, focused, intense, with empathetic  talent in collusion and cooperation, in a maze of transformation that speaks individually and collectively to each member of the audience. 

The first time I hear

"Uncle John's Band" is the first Grateful Dead song I listen to  and I’m instantly and forever changed. This music is mellow, articulate, speaking to all aspects of our lives, and truly making us feel good about ourselves. “Uncle John’s Band” is the first song I hear at the first Grateful Dead show I go to, at the Fillmore East in NYC.

 "Truckin'" is the first Grateful Dead song to climb the song charts. “Uncle John’s Band” follows “Truckin’” here tonight. Then they play Robert Hunter’s first song he wrote for the Grateful Dead, “Alligator” > “Cumberland Blues”, Phil Lesh’s first Grateful Dead song he wrote with Jerry Garcia, and Robert Hunter; Bob Weir first penned “Born Cross-Eyed” > “Cream Puff War”, Jerry Garcia’s first lyric and music song, then one of their first covers,  Noah Lewis' song “Viola Lee Blues”. The band is playing its unique style of the song. Listening to the sweet spirits present I hear Noah playing his harp in the background and Jerry Garcia jamming with the Jubilee band, when suddenly a giant esthetic rainbow appears in the sky, and the crowd is amazed. There’s cloud cover in this time of drought, and a double rainbow appears while the band is still playing the end of its first set. To me this delightful moment is déjà vu. I recall a dream I had that was so real, almost heaven-like, of the Grateful Dead with rainbows and rings and spheres, but disturbing because Jerry was missing from the dream. I realize now the dream was a foreshadowing of this moment. As soon as the set ends, a few drops of rain fall on the crowd. A spectacular sunset follows.  Promoter Bill Graham famously said of the Grateful Dead "They're not the best at what they do, they're the only ones that do what they do."

Bill Graham was the premier impresario and grand marshal of the rock 'n roll industry he helped to define. He produced the best in the profession and his shows were often described as fun. He had a tremendous care for the concerns of his audience and made his venues a comfortable environment  so people could have a good time.  At his shows, we dance among a large crowd in an open auditorium, where the propriety of the people provides the decorum for the show. The ushers here don't intrude on our space or confine folks to their seats. Each show is special. Bill Graham Presents......his favorite band he produces most often is the Grateful Dead. “Good things come to those who wait.”, Bill once said.

The Grateful Dead are the most prolific musicians in history. They have played together performing more songs for more people than any other music combo.

The songs of the Beatles in the sixties liberated us, and the words and music of Bob Dylan understood us and brought revelation, but the sounds of the Grateful Dead, that country folk rock jazzy blues jam beat feel good sound, transforms us.

The crowd here tonight seems to be mostly people who are seeing the Grateful Dead for the first time. Yet they seem to know the band intimately. They know the words to many of the songs. Deadheads across generations!

 

July 4, 2015 Fare Thee Well tour, Chicago

I'm staying in a hotel in South Chicago next door to Pearl's Place, the restaurant once renowned as the premier jazz & blues  club. Pictures of musical legends Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, John Coltrane, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Etta James, The Drifters, and others adorn the walls of great past shows here in the Blues Capital of America. I'm in Bronzeville, home of Gwendolyn Brooks, who was Illinois' poet laureate, whom I corresponded with when I was in college. I am riding the elevated train in Chicago on the first night of the Grateful Dead's "Fare Thee Well" here. There's a group of black people surrounding this one older man who's at the center of their group. One of them asks, "What's going on?" and another echoes, "What's happening here?" and the older gentleman responds, "Don't you know the Grateful Dead are in town, and that they're different from every other band that comes here? There's two reasons, one, the following they have, and two, the vibe. Even the big names like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones don't have this kind of following, and they don't have that vibe", he says with emphasis, and smiling.

It’s Saturday, a hot, beautiful, sunny day. The crowd is packed like a parade coming into Soldier Field for tonight’s Grateful Dead show.  The person in front of me turns around and asks me, “What song are they going to do tonight?” I put out my hand and say, “Shake the hand that shook the hand is what Robert Hunter said to me the first time we met backstage.” “U.S. Blues! Thank you!”


 

excerpts from "Last Flash of the Grateful Dead" by Uncle John

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


 


"Where do I stand spiritually?

Oh God!!! (with laughter)

Somewhere between Jesus and the devil."

 --JERRY GARCIA

"Keep knockin' on heaven's door and God will lift you up." --Bob Dylan

 

2019

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