The Doctor wrote:I have it on good authority (friend of a friend who's cousins brother knew a guy who knew a roadie of a group that played the same venue as the dead on a different night back in '67) that the song is actually about peanut butter and baloney sandwiches.
Pete B. wrote:'Not sure why... but songs that go directly from the I chord to the II chord are not pleasing to my ear.
Do you cringe the same with Ramble on Rose? I do the first go around of both tunes!
WilliamC wrote:Given that R. Hunter tells us it refers to Altamont, Mason's Children is pretty straightforward, at least on one level:
The "story" with the usual R. Hunter decorations:
Mason "dies" and is buried ritualisticly, his "children" grow tall - this may be a metaphor for learning what Mason has to teach in the next verse
Mason is resurected on the next day and teaches something(s) to a "we" whose antecedant is unclear, presumably the ones who buried him
Mason was a mighty man - This verse is combines a Biblical reference (the "mighty man" is Jehovah, going out among men for the purpose of smite-age - Isaiah 42:13) and an appropriate folk/blues cliche. If Mason here refers to Meredith Hunter, the "mighty" may refer to his condition on amphetamines or to his long-barreled revolver - he apparently wanted to smite Jagger for whom his girlfriend had the hots.
The wall collapsed - The wall is "obviously" the wall within which Mason was entombed but it may also refer to an emotional wall blocking out responsibility for the events. "We" called this event "fate" - the wording suggests "we" are wrong and there is some personal responsibility and shame about what happened. The band of course bailed out before the killing.
Thursday and Friday - the presumed ritualistic consumption of the victim's body. But... the stew may simply be the mess that was Altamont and the clean up simply a reference to the physical and emotional fallout of the events. I.e. "We" caused this and "we" have to deal with it.
Reaper Man/Reefer Man - I suspect the first is correct simply because it's more Hunter-esque. Clearly what is owed is a life, perhaps that of Meredith Hunter, the man killed at Altamont - at the time the song was written the band could not have known Alan Passaro would be aquitted of the killing in 1971 on the basis of self defense.
So what do we have?
I think the character Mason is mostly Meredith Hunter, the man killed at Altamont:
Mason was a mighty man... Introduces the character/events
Mason died on Monday... M. Hunter's killing
We dug him up on Tuesday... R. Hunter and the band learn of the events
The wall collapsed on Wednesday... Realization that "we" might be partly responsible
Thursday came and Friday.. Dealing with emotional fallout
Take me to the Reaper Man... A ritualistic response to and acceptance of the death.
M. Hunter was apparently loaded when he started his rampage
Mason was a mighty man... Traditional cyclical wrap up.
YMMV of course,
Pete B. wrote:Do you cringe the same with Ramble on Rose? I do the first go around of both tunes!
Prepare to feel my pain!...
Here's the deal with the I to II change, for me... I play/played Pedal Steel with alot of "singer/songwriters" types of guys/gals over the last 30 years, and the I to II chord change, imho, is often "square pegged into a round hole" in place of, imho, actual songwriting mojo.
(I guess i do know why it bugs me?! )
In RR, the I to II change makes perfect sense, musically and rhythmically (helping to provide a storytone cadence), and therefore does not sound dis-pleasing to my ear in any way... the listener does not even hear it because of the exquisite songwriting.
fwiw, If there is a Masons where everyone plays the right chords and sings the right harmonies, let me know and I will re-evaluate my take on the song in leu of the I>II thing.
To me the song immediately hits a nerve with the I to II chord change, and progresses from there with an overly rambunctious <sp?> and cacophonic delivery that makes me wonder... <scratching head and wincing>... what did happen to Rosemary's baby?
Interestingly "overly rambunctious and cacophonic"... I would have it no other way on Viola Lee... go figer.
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