Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Grateful Dead - "Me and My Uncle"

I've always thought it was kind of weird when a band would put out a self-titled record that wasn't their debut, like Blur or Metallica. Surely it's not because they just couldn't think of anything, so I figure it's either (a) "this is the beginning of a new era for the band", or (b) "this is the album that best sums up what this band is all about". In the case of The Grateful Dead, definitely (b), because it's (wait for it...) a fuckin' double-live album.

I threw this track, a modest little outlaw tale, up here today because it used to be one of my favourites on my cassette copy of What a Long Strange Trip It's Been (my initial introduction to the Dead, which left me somewhat nonplussed; their name and skeleton-logo had led me to expect something more akin to, say, Steppenwolf), and because I really don't have that many Dead records, so why not? The Dead didn't write it; John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas (and sire of one-third of Wilson Phillips) did but, according to legend, has no recollection of doing so. He was hanging out at a party, drunk off his ass, strumming a guitar and making shit up while someone was rolling a tape. One day he began receiving royalty cheques for a Judy Collins album. Not a bad work if you can find it.

This page has pretty much everything you'd want to know about the song, including a more detailed telling of its origin and an extensive catalogue of lyrical variations. It says at the top that this is the song the Dead played more than any other in their entire concert history. I can't believe someone bothered counting. Actually, yeah I can.

I don't think I even bought this record; I think my old roommate forgot it when she moved. Your loss, K—. It's here if you still want it.

Buy it... on vinyl.

From my deck to you: The Grateful Dead - "Me and My Uncle"

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