Uncle John's Band

Lyrics: Robert Hunter
Music: Jerry Garcia

Well the first days are the hardest days, don't you worry any more
'Cause when life looks like easy street, there is danger at your door
Think this through with me, let me know your mind
Wo-oh, what I want to know is, are you kind?

It's a buck dancer's choice my friend, better take my advice
You know all the rules by now, and the fire from the ice
Will you come with me, won't you come with me?
Wo-oh, what I want to know, will you come with me?

God damn, well I declare, have you seen the like?
Their walls are built of cannon balls
Their motto is "don't" tread on me"

Come hear Uncle John's Band, playing to the tide
Come with me or go alone
He's come to take his children home

It's the same story the crow told me, it's the only one he knows
Like the morning sun you come and like the wind you go
Ain't no time to hate, barely time to wait
Wo-oh, what I want to know, where does the time go?

I live in a silver mine and I call it beggar's tomb
I got me a violin and I beg you call the tune
Anybody's choice, I can hear your voice
Wo-oh, what I want to know, how does the song go?

Come hear Uncle John's Band, by the river side
Got some things to talk about
Here beside the rising tide

Come hear Uncle John's Band, playing to the tide
Come with me or go alone
He's come to take his children home

Wo-oh what I want to know, how does the song go?

Come hear Uncle John's Band, by the river side
Got some things to talk about
Here beside the rising tide
Grateful Dead Recordings
     Date Album
      8 Nov 1969 Dick's Picks Vol 16 (jam only)
     12 Dec 1969 Dave's Picks Volume 10
     studio 1970 Workingman's Dead (note 1)
      2 Feb 1970 Dave's Picks Volume 6
     11 Feb 1970 30 Days Of The Dead (2010) (note 7)
      1 May 1970 30 Days Of The Dead (2012)
      2 May 1970 Dick's Picks Vol 8
     15 May 1970 Road Trips Vol 3 No 3 (late show)
     23 Dec 1970 Workingman's Dead (note 2)
     27 Apr 1971 Ladies And Gentlemen ... The Grateful Dead
     30 May 1971 Winterland 1971
     31 Jul 1971 Road Trips Number 1, Volume 3
     24 Aug 1971 Dick's Picks Vol 35
     22 Mar 1972 Rockin' The Rhein (bonus disc)
     29 Apr 1972 Europe '72 - The Complete Recordings
      4 May 1972 Europe '72 - The Complete Recordings
     11 May 1972 Europe '72 - The Complete Recordings
     23 May 1972 Steppin' Out with the Grateful Dead: England '72 (note 6)
     25 May 1972 Europe '72 - The Complete Recordings
     22 Jul 1972 Download Series Vol 10
     17 Sep 1972 Dick's Picks Vol 23
     27 Sep 1972 Dick's Picks Vol 11
     10 Nov 1973 Winterland 1973 - The Complete Recordings
     11 Nov 1973 Winterland 1973 - The Complete Recordings
     17 Nov 1973 Dave's Picks Volume 5
     21 Nov 1973 Road Trips Volume 4, Number 3
     23 Mar 1974 Dick's Picks Vol 24
     31 Jul 1974 Dave's Picks Volume 2
      6 Aug 1974 Dick's Picks Vol 31
     19 Oct 1974 Grateful Dead Movie (DVD and CD)
     31 Dec 1976 Live At The Cow Palace
     11 May 1977 May 1977 Box Set
     15 May 1977 May 1977 Box Set
     19 May 1977 Dick's Picks Vol 29
      7 Jun 1977 Winterland June 1977 - The Complete Recordings
     26 Dec 1979 Dick's Picks Vol 5
     28 Dec 1979 Road Trips Vol 3, No 1
     15 May 1980 Go To Nassau
      Oct 1980 Dead Ahead (video/DVD only) (note 3)
     30 Nov 1980 Dave's Picks Volume 8
      1987 So Far (video only)
     24 Jul 1987 View From The Vault IV (DVD & CD soundtrack)
     31 Dec 1987 Ticket To New Year's (video/DVD only)
     28 Dec 1988 30 Days Of The Dead (2011)
      3 Apr 1989 Download Series Vol 9
     17 Jul 1989 Donwhill From Here (video/DVD only)
      9 Oct 1989 Warlocks Box
     16 Oct 1989 Nightfall Of Diamonds
     24 Mar 1990 Dozin' At The Knick
     30 Mar 1990 Spring 1990
     19 Sep 1990 Road Trips Number 2, Volume 1
     27 May 1993 Road Trips Vol 2, No 4

Recordings from dead.net Tapers Section

"The Dead" Concert Recordings

Ratdoglive CDs and downloads
 
Phil Lesh and Friends Recordings
     19 May 2006 Live At The Warfield

Phil Lesh and Friends Digital Download Series

Furthur Digital Downloads and CDs

Weir-Robinson-Greene Trio Live!
 
Tribute Albums
     Date Album Recorded By
     1991 Deadicated Indigo Girls
     1996 Fire On The Mountain Reggae Celebrates The Grateful Dead (Joe Higgs)
     1996 Long Live The Dead Billy And Terry Smith
     2000 Pickin' On The Grateful Dead Vol 2 David West et al
     2001 Gifts From The Dead Gifts From The Dead
     2002 Buckdancer's Choice Wake The Dead
     2003 Ukelele Summit 5 Various (Luisa Finau)
     2003 Grateful Guitar David Cullen
 
Other Recordings
     Date Album Recorded By
     1972 The Incomparable ... Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band (note 4)
     1973 Watkin's Glen King's Road
     1994 Fruitcakes Jimmy Buffet
     1996 Mirth Control Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band (note 5)
     1998 Inner Child Proof Chicago Voice Exchange
     2001 Beach Balls and Alcohol Key West The Band
     2003 The Taste Of Life Itself Sagin' Time
     2007 Steel Away J. Robert
     2007 Take Cover Tomas Nicholas
     2010 One Hesher, Two Punks And A Hippy Punk Is Dead
Notes
(1) also on the compilations Skeletons From The Closet and The Very Best Of The Grateful Dead
(2) included as a bonus track on remastered album, first released as part of the box set The Golden Road (1965-1973). According to Mike Dolgushkin, the date should be 4 October 1970 not 23 December as in the liner notes.
(3) audio played as background to montage of photos of the band
(4) also on the Stanford Band's "Greatest Hits (1970-1998)"
(5) also on the compilation "Stolen Roses"
(6) also on the box set Europe '72 - The Complete Recordings
(7) also on 30 Days Of The Dead (2013)

Futher Information
For an online discussion of the lyrics to this song see the
deadsongs.vue conference on The Well.
For more information on recordings see Matt Schofield's Grateful Dead Family Discography
For information on references in the lyrics see David Dodd's Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
For online chords and TAB see www.rukind.com
For sheet music, see:
          Grateful Dead Anthology Volume 1 (piano arrangement)
          Grateful Dead Authentic Guitar Classics Volume 1 (guitar TAB)
          Grateful Dead Songbook Volume 1 (piano arrangement)
          Very Best Of The Grateful Dead (guitar TAB)
          Garcia/Hunter Songbook (vocal line and chords/TAB)

 


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