Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #129346  by hippieguy1954
 Sat Jun 22, 2013 8:40 am
Oh, just sing your song play your guitar! Don't worry about what others are doing. Especially when they can sell out 9 shows in a row. Let them enjoy also! :lol:
 #129347  by Smolder
 Sat Jun 22, 2013 10:38 am
I've met Robert and seen him live (he played through my jbl equipped twin reverb at a show back in the late 70's). Great guy, great lyricist. I recall him writing complete songs for himself, but only providing lyrics for Jerry and the dead.

As to the dead 'clones'... tribute bands are fine, but I'm pretty sure I don't want to be in one. The influence though, is pretty unavoidable. Lot's of folks missed out on the real thing and want it (some nights I like to reminisce as well). I see the boys trying lot's of things over time to carry the dead forward. That it doesn't measure up to some's standards because Jerry is gone is a pretty short issue... nothing you can do about it. I do see them trying their best to continue and replicate what was, but also pushing things with what skills and people and ideas they have. Dissing anyone as being a 'Jerry clone' is pretty weak. They have to maintain an audience and build on what they've accomplished. (and yes, I've seen nearly a hundred shows with Jerry).
 #129348  by jester536
 Sat Jun 22, 2013 11:00 am
I saw Hunter once about 35 years ago. I decided I appreciated him more as a lyricist than a musician...I'm not going to argue the point...just my thoughts.
I've seen Half Step and Playing Dead. They are all phenomenal musicians and it looked to me like they were having a blast. I know I was. I go to bars and see guys killing the blues and never hear people ripping on them as SRV "clones" or "wannabes".
I appreciate all those cover bands out there and am envious of their ability to create music I really dig. Thanks guys.
 #129349  by Dogs In A Pile
 Sat Jun 22, 2013 6:05 pm
Smolder wrote: I recall him writing complete songs for himself, but only providing lyrics for Jerry and the dead.
Well, It Must Have been The Roses and Easy Wind are credited solely to Hunter.
When Garcia and Hunter lived together, you know Hunter had some chord ideas for at least some of his lyrics. He was like a springboard for Garcia. On American Beauty his credit is Songwriter not just lyricist.

Please read this, the origin of Friend Of The Devil, from Hunter's diary....Jerry only wrote the music for the bridge and Dawson came up with just one line in the lyrics. Hunter is not just the Dead's lyricist. It's not so cut and dry. He's a major catalyst.

From Hunter's diary. When he says "Garcias" he is referring to Jerry and Mountain Girl........

I was living in Madrone canyon with the Garcias. The NRPS had asked me if I wanted to play bass with them and it seemed like a good idea at the time. So I worked up that song on bass, added a few verses plus a chorus and went over to where David Nelson and John Dawson were living in Kentfield and taught them the tune. The "Sweet Anne Marie" verse which was later to become a bridge was only one of the verses, not yet a bridge. The chorus went:

I set out running but I take my time
It looks like water but it tastes like wine
If I get home before daylight
I just might get some sleep tonight.

I'd changed the fourth verse, about parlaying the twenty dollars into five thousand and, except for the all important Friend of the Devil hook, the lyrics were pretty much as they stand today minus a fifth verse which goes:

You can borrow from the Devil
You can borrow from a friend
But the Devil give you twenty
When your friend got only ten

We all went down to the kitchen to have espresso made in Dawson's new machine. We got to talking about the tune and John said the verses were nifty except for "it looks like water but it tastes like wine" which I had to admit fell flat. Suddenly Dawson's eyes lit up and he crowed "How about "a friend of the devil is a friend of mine." Bingo, not only the right line but a memorable title as well!

We ran back upstairs to Nelson's room and recorded the tune. I took the tape home and left it on the kitchen table. Next morning I heard earlybird Garcia (who hadn't been at the rehearsal - had a gig, you know) wanging away something familiar sounding on the peddle steel. Danged if it wasn't "Friend of the Devil." With a dandy bridge on the "sweet Anne Marie" verse. He was not in the least apologetic about it. He'd played the tape, liked it, and faster than you can say dog my cats it was in the Grateful Dead repertoire.

LINK (scroll down):
 #129351  by waldo041
 Sat Jun 22, 2013 8:00 pm
Have you heard Hunters version of Friend of the devil? Does it really sound like how Jerry plays it? absolutely not. I can agree with you that he was a song writer, but he was no composer. Jerry and the boys took the blueprints and put their magic on it to make them what they would become. Hunter is a key player in that dynamic, but I think you are dismissing where the real magic was.

here are a couple quotes from the letter Hunter wrote to Jerry one year after his death.
Been remembering some of the key talks we had in the old days, trying to suss what kind of a tiger we were riding, where it was going, and how to direct it, if possible. Driving to the city once, you admitted you didn’t have a clue what to do beyond composing and playing the best you could. I agreed – put the weight on the music, stay out of politics, and everything else should follow. I trusted your musical sense and you were good enough to trust my words. Trust was the whole enchilada, looking back.
Neither of us gave a fuck for candy coated shit, psychedelic or otherwise. I never even thought of us as a “pop band.” You had to say to me one day, after I’d handed over the Eagle Mall suite, “Look, Hunter – we’re a goddamn dance band, for Christ’s sake! At least write something with a beat!” Okay. I handed over Truckin’ next. How was I to know? I thought we were silver and gold; something new on this Earth. But the next time I tried to slip you the heavy stuff, you actually went for it. Seems like you’d had the vision of the music about the same time I had the vision of the words, independently. Terrapin. Shame about the record, but the concert piece, the first night it was played, took me about as close as I ever expect to get to feeling certain we were doing what we were put here to do. One of my few regrets is that you never wanted to finish it, though you approved of the final version I eked out many years later. You said, apologetically, “I love it, but I’ll never get the time to do it justice.” I realized that was true. Time was the one thing you never had in the last decade and a half.
From what I read Hunter saying in his words is that the music role was Jerrys and the words were his. Can't argue with that. ... his-death/

 #129357  by Mr.Burns
 Sun Jun 23, 2013 9:04 am
By his own admission, Jerry couldn't write lyrics to save his life. Would a Grateful Dead song by any other name (or lyrical content) smell as sweet? Also, why didn't these musical juggernauts play more instrumentals? It was certainly becoming of them, and non-Heads love to point out how the long jams are completely devoid of singing of any sort. So why did the band who could do it all except write the words, find it so necessary to include lyrics in nearly all of their compositions? I think it's because they wanted people to hear what Hunter (among others, but mostly Hunter) had to say. I think Hunter was held in high regard from early on, he had taken Army LSD, he was an actual poet, an artist, not some wannabe beat spouting to whoever would listen. The band could appreciate that. I mean, C'mon, man! It's Robert Hunter!

I can't speak for everyone but I know that before I was a Jerry freak I was enthralled with the entire band. Sometimes, to a novice listener, the overall presentation of a Grateful Dead song performed live can be overwhelming. Hunter's contributions are frequently the most accessible, being right out in front. And I'll be damned if he doesn't write the best damn lyrics I ever heard.

Happy birthday, Mr. Hunter. Thanks for everything.
 #129358  by ebick
 Sun Jun 23, 2013 9:38 am
I've seen RH live, and while I'm not a huge fan of his presentation, I will say that when I did see him it just hit me that these songs that I knew so well and loved, these were his words; the man behind the mask, if you will. The Grateful Dead was most assuredly a "team" effort.....and he was an essential part of the team.
 #129361  by Mr.Burns
 Sun Jun 23, 2013 10:58 am
ebick wrote:I've seen RH live, and while I'm not a huge fan of his presentation, I will say that when I did see him it just hit me that these songs that I knew so well and loved, these were his words; the man behind the mask, if you will. The Grateful Dead was most assuredly a "team" effort.....and he was an essential part of the team.

If we must pigeonhole RH as a "lyricist", then I'll say this: His part of the Grateful Dead's canon just may be the most human; the words are what makes these "songs" instead of "compositions" or "pieces" of music. IMHO, I'd rather listen to a song any day. Just sayin'.
Last edited by Mr.Burns on Wed Jun 26, 2013 8:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
 #129371  by TI4-1009
 Sun Jun 23, 2013 7:14 pm
As the OP I need to regain control here! ... KGjOE_7bYI

Let's not argue and bicker about who killed who....

I love Hunter. With Jer gone I think he's the most real and my favorite part of the Dead we have left. I met him once when he played the Keswick, he was walking out back and I got to talk with him for a few minuted before a crowd started to gather and he had to escape. Wonderful man. I told him that having grown up in the 60's he, Dylan, and Lennon & McCartney made up most of my internal life soundtrack. Left a deck of cards and a red rose on the stage for him.

I had seen him back in the mid-80's in Rochester, opening for Garcia and Kahn. Quite a few of the "heads" were calling for Jer during Hunter's set, I was almost embaressed for him- they didn't seem to have a clue who he was. I guess kids who just traded tapes had never seen his name. Same when he opened for the Dead, P&F, or spinoffs. The place would be pretty empty- eveyone partying in the lot, while a true Dead legend was pouring his heart out.

Almost all those words, phrases, characters, emotions that we associate with Jerry's perfomances came out of this man's head.

And today's his birthday (and mine). Happy Birthday Robert- many happy returns of the day!
 #129378  by ccw3432
 Sun Jun 23, 2013 11:12 pm
Happy birthday to you both.
 #131251  by jackr
 Tue Aug 13, 2013 3:20 am
I would love to see him if he was playing down in my neck of the woods. Last time i saw him had to be in the late 70s or early 80s. He played in Greenwich village at the Other End (or was it the Bitter end?)

Anyway, the place was almost empty. There were maybe 15 or 20 people there. He spent have the show answering questions and conversing with us. I was astonished how empty it was, I was thinking dont people realize who was standing up there playing.

IMHO he is better than or to say the least as good as dylan for example and all of those other genius song writers.
 #131254  by tcsned
 Tue Aug 13, 2013 7:10 am
I saw him, I think it was in '85 opening for JBG at Constitution Hall in DC. He put on a fine performance. He's not the Dead, he's a folk singer who wrote some of the greatest songs in the American lexicon. If you're look for that GD thing, he's not it. If you want to hear a classic American folk artist - he's the shit.

A good friend ran into him at a bookstore in Mass in the 90s, she told him she had an old roommate who played in a Dead band. He wrote me a nice little note and an autograph.

I would love to see him play again. I loved his take on those songs he and Jerry wrote as well as the ones he penned by himself.
 #132755  by TI4-1009
 Mon Sep 30, 2013 9:51 am
Made the 300 mile round trip pilgrimage to Allentown to catch Hunter on Saturday. Nice venue, smallish old vaudville house- three balconies, comfy seats. Maybe 2/3 full? A handfull of tapers recorded the show.

I've seen Hunter three or four times over the last 30 years. He's in his 70's now and finally starting to act his age. Only the second show of this tour, and the last tour was 10 years ago- plus he's had a rough year health-wise, so he started off a little creaky for the first song or two but then caught his stride. He had a new acoustic-electric thin body, played harmonica, looked to be going direct to the board. Very little of the "phasery" swirling effect that he used to use on most songs. Didn't chat as much as he had in the past. Seemed a little crankier- going to start calling him "Gramps" :lol:

Nice, typical setlist for him. Only one little lapse, he forgot the "leavin' Texas" verse during Jack Straw and had to ask us for a prompt. Someone yelled "Don't feel bad, Bobby could never get it right either!" :-) And if you search youtube some jerkoff already posted that song- not one of the 20 others where he remembered everything.

Highlights for me were Stella Blue, Brokedown, and Reuben & Cherise. He says if this short tour goes OK he will do a longer one in the spring.

Robert Hunter
Allentown Symphony Hall

Box of Rain
Dire Wolf>
Jack O’lantern
Ship of fools
New Speedway

Brown Eyed Women
Talkin Money Tree>
Friend of the Devil
Jack Straw
Stella Blue
Tiger Rose
Brokedown Palace
Reuben & Cherise
Scarlet Begonias
E: Ripple
Boys in the Barroom