deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #0 of 63: David Dodd (ddodd) Mon 8 Sep 03 08:45
    
Me And My Uncle
w&m: Phillips
LASF: http://www.whitegum.com/songfile/MEANDMYU.HTM
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #1 of 63: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Tue 24 Feb 04 12:14
    
The link at Post #0 has it thus:

Lyrics: John Phillips
Music: John Phillips

This is the song the Grateful Dead played more than any other, cover
or original, all the way from 1966 to 1995. 

Me and my uncle went riding down
South Colorado, West Texas bound
We stopped over in Santa Fe
That being the point just about half way
And you know it was the hottest part of the day

I took the horses up to the stall
Went to the bar-room, ordered drinks for all
Three days in the saddle, you know my body hurt
It being summer, I took off my shirt
And I tried to wash off some of that dusty dirt (note 1)

West Texas cowboys, they's all around
With liquor and money, they're loaded down
So soon after pay day, you know it seemed a shame
You know my uncle, he starts a friendly game
Hi-lo jacks and the winner take the hand

My uncle starts winning, cowboys got sore
One of them called him, and then two more
Accused him of cheating, well no it couldn't be
I know my uncle, he's as honest as me
And I'm as honest as a Denver man can be

One of them cowboys, he starts to draw
Well I shot him down, Lord, he never saw (note 2)
Shot me another, hot damn he won't grow old (note 3)
In the confusion my uncle grabbed the gold
And we high-tailed it down to Mexico

Now I love those cowboys, I love their gold
I love my uncle, God rest his soul
Taught me good, Lord, taught me all I know
Taught me so well, I grabbed that gold
And I left his dead ass there by the side of the road (note 4)

Notes
(1) it could be "... dust and dirt"
(2) in some early versions Bob Weir sang "Grabbed me a bottle, cracked
him in the jaw" which is similar to what Judy Collins sang in the
original version of the song (see below)
(3) variations included "... that man he won't grow old" and maybe
"God damn he won't grow old"
(4) in very early versions, Weir sang "And I left him laying there by
the side of the road", also similar to the Judy Collins' version

Happy Trails
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #2 of 63: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Tue 24 Feb 04 12:34
    
I hear the first couplet of the last verse a litle differently:

"Now all of those cowboys, they're out of their gold
I loved my uncle, God rest his soul"

It seems out of character for the narrator to express love for the
cowboys that he has just shot for (probably rightly) accusing his uncle
of cheating. And the uncle is dead, so past tense probably scans
better.

I think Note 1 is definitely on the money. Note 4 is also correct.

There are several good reasons why Me and My Uncle was played so
often: (1) It is a great song, in my book the best of all the cowboy
songs (2) It fits right into the Dead canon as though designed for the
part, with its jaundiced gambler's outlook (3) It rocks (4) It is easy
to play but provides a nice base for some lazy lightning leads.

I like to run into this one from "Land of the Navaho", the Peter Rowan
tune on Old and In the Way. That one fades on a G / Em change so you
just put the hammer down and keep heading out west.

Happy Trails
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #3 of 63: David Gans (tnf) Tue 24 Feb 04 12:38
    

What if he's siinging "I loved those cowboys out of their gold"?  Let's get
digaman in here to tease out the homoerotic subtext.


> It fits right into the Dead canon as though designed for the part, with its
> jaundiced gambler's outlook

Helped to define it, really.


> I like to run into this one from "Land of the Navaho", the Peter Rowan tune
> on Old and In the Way. That one fades on a G / Em change so you just put
> the hammer down and keep heading out west.

Nice!  Great combo.
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #4 of 63: Anyone know Annie Bonneau? (comet) Tue 24 Feb 04 20:56
    
I've always heard:

West Texas Cowboys, they's all around
we's leaner in money, they's loaded down
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #5 of 63: Lightning in a Box (unkljohn) Thu 26 Feb 04 15:39
    
I always heard "with liquor and money....." 
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #6 of 63: David Gans (tnf) Thu 26 Feb 04 16:59
    
Me, too.
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #7 of 63: Lightning in a Box (unkljohn) Thu 26 Feb 04 20:46
    
although on some older tapes, Bobby grabs him a bottle
and cracks 'em in the jaw.  
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #8 of 63: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Fri 27 Feb 04 07:58
    
Not knowing much about people from Denver, and never having met even
one, when the Three Man Depravity Band (Brisbane, Australia -
Bottleneck Bob Irvine and me, mid seventies) played this tune, we
changed it to "I'm as honest as a criminal man can be". I'm interested
in whether Denver has a particular reputation, or whether John Phillips
might have had an unfortunate experience there. Warren Zevon certainly
didn't seem all that impressed with the place ("Things To Do in Denver
When You're Dead").

Happy Trails
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #9 of 63: Steve Silberman (digaman) Tue 2 Mar 04 17:54
    
Oh, I see why I get mentioned in this conference.  Mr. Homoerotic Subtext.  
:)

Sorry, I have no idea.
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #10 of 63: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Tue 23 Mar 04 07:50
    
I watched Deadwood the other night on HBO, and it started me thinking
about one of the lines I find least satisfactory in Me and My Uncle.
That's the one that goes:

"Hi-lo jacks and the winner take the hand"

I played an awful lot of poker in my younger days, and never could
quite get "the winner take the hand". What does that mean? Is it
telling us that the winner wins?

Anyway, in Deadwood there is a scene where Wild Bill Hickock is
introduced into a poker game, and the rules are explained to him. The
game can be 5 card stud, Hold-em etc - dealer's choice. (Of course,
Wild Bill was shot dead in a poker game in Deadwood when he was holding
aces and eights.) The Deadwood inspired reading of the line would be:

"Hi-lo, Jacks and the dealer calls the game"

Now that has a somewhat unfortunate rhyme repetition with "game" of
course, but it does add some value to the narrative. I would always go
with impetus over the rhyme if I couldn't have both.

Happy Trails
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #11 of 63: Lightning in a Box (unkljohn) Tue 23 Mar 04 10:07
    
I've played a lot of poker too and don't know what that means. So I got 
out my trusty Hoyle's Rules of Games with the title page missing, so I 
can't say what the copyright is, but I know it's from the early 50's.

Anyway, here's what it says about High-Low Poker:

"Almost any form of Poker can be played "high-low". There is no difference 
in the original deal and betting, but in the showdown the highest-ranking 
poker hand and the lowest-ranking poker hand divide the pot equally (if it 
cannot be divided equally, the high hand receives any excess).

In high-low seven-card  Stud, a player may select five of his cards to 
compete for the high end of the pot, and a different five cards to compete 
for the low end of the pot and therefore may win both ways."

Don't know if this fits exactly, but it's interesting nevertheless.
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #12 of 63: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Tue 23 Mar 04 11:38
    
Hoyle's is, of course, correct on hi-lo poker. Jacks refers to a
minimum of paired Jacks being required to open the betting in a hand.
Usually, if no player has a pair of Jacks or better, the cards are
thrown in, a new ante is required and the hands are re-dealt with a new
hurdle to open the betting of a pair of Queens or better (Queens on
the up).

This continues to Kings (Kings on the up) and then Aces and then back
to Kings (Kings on the down), Queens (Queens on the down) and then back
to Jacks.

In the Deadwood variant above, the dealer would be nominating which
poker variant is being played - five card or seven card stud, draw or
hold-em - within the overall table parameters of Hi-lo and Jacks.

Jacks will boost the average pot significantly and, in combination
with the hi-lo element, leads to a somewhat more volatile game than
straight draw or any of the regular variants. This version of the game,
in combination with liquor, guns and plenty of Denver honesty are
highly credible ingredients for the mayhem that follows.

Happy Trails
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #13 of 63: waves of violet go crashing and laughing (sffog) Tue 23 Mar 04 22:29
    
I interpret "Hi-lo jacks and the winner take the hand" differently.

For me it means a hand gets a share in the pot for having the lowest
card, highest card, any jack, or winning the hand in the normal poker
fashion so that the pot might get divided from 3 to 7 ways depending on
how many jacks turn up.

If the "hi-lo" was referring to high hand and low hand, then it makes
little sense to also be playing "and the winner take the hand" since
that would be the same as having the high hand.

If the "jacks" referred to "jacks to open", then usually that word
would not be stuck in the list of what it takes to win and would appear
at the begin or end of the game description.
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #14 of 63: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Wed 24 Mar 04 06:39
    
I think post #13 nails the reason why I have a problem with "and the
winner takes the hand".

I have never heard of a poker game where any hand with a jack, plus
the highest or lowest card gets a share of the pot. It does not seem to
be consistent with the sort of serious game where gun play is used to
settle arguments.

"Hi-lo" is a very common (to the point of being standard poker
terminology) way of describing the high hand / low hand division of the
pot, and I have often heard "Jacks" used as shorthand for the rule
that a pair of jacks or better is required to open.

I take the line to be setting out the rule variants that apply for the
game, not a list of what is required to win.

While I can't remember it shedding any direct light on the questions
at issue, for those interested in the subject, "The Education of a
Poker Player" by Herbert Yardley, presents an interesting outlook on
the game of poker that was forged in the saloon games of the Old West,
where he cut his teeth as a house dealer.

Happy Trails
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #15 of 63: Michael D. Sullivan (avogadro) Wed 24 Mar 04 17:41
    
Perhaps "winner takes the hand" means that the winner deals next.
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #16 of 63: waves of violet go crashing and laughing (sffog) Wed 24 Mar 04 18:12
    
I've been in some dealer's choice poker games and the rules can get
varied a lot in trying to gain an advantage especially when alcohol is
involved

However on further reflection, I am not sure the the game being played
is poker.

The song phrase is likely

"Hi, lo, jack, and the winner take the hand"

That seems to be a description of the game of pitch (which i have seen
played around dead shows). And I suspect the characters in the song
were probably playing some variant of it. In a hand of pitch you can
get up to four points called the hi, lo, jack, and game. That
corresponds to the getting the high trump, low trump, jack of trumps,
and most card points (winning the hand).

I looked it up in Hoyle which says pitch is the surviving form of a
game of early english orgin once known to every card playing american.
It was know then as All Fours or High-Low-Jack.
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #17 of 63: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Thu 25 Mar 04 07:10
    
Jeff could have moved this to a whole new level.

When I searched Pitch, I got this: "Arizona Pitch is a card game from
the old west. It uses a deck of 29 cards (Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10,
9, 6 of each suite and one Joker that is a trump between the 10 and
Jack)."

The rules are here:

http://sky116688.tripod.com/pitch/rules.html

I am still not clear on how "the winner takes the hand" fits in to a
Pitch scenario, but very fruitful engagement so far, salutations to all
and let's keep digging.

Happy Trails
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #18 of 63: David Gans (tnf) Sun 28 Mar 04 07:58
    

> "Hi-lo, Jacks and the dealer calls the game"

That would make sense, but a song lyric that requires the listener to insert
punctuation is problematic.


> a hand gets a share in the pot for having the lowest card, highest card,
> any jack, or winning the hand in the normal poker fashion so that the pot
> might get divided from 3 to 7 ways depending on how many jacks turn up.

Man, that's gotta be one confusing poker game.


Robin, your description of the progressive openers in <12> took my mind back
to a specific poker game in Foster City, California, when I was about 13
years old.  Memories!


Bob Weir told me once who he learned the song from.  He named the guy -- not
a famous musician -- but I can't remember the name now.  It might be in one
of the books.  When I tried to find a recording of the song by John Phillips
for "Stolen Roses," the word came back that he didn't even remember writing
the song!  I would guess the canonical recording of "Me and My Uncle" would
be Judy Collins' (though Mike Wilhelm and I believe Dino Valenti also re-
corded it in the '60s); anyone have that version handy to check out what she
sings?

It's possible the line was garbled before it got to Weir.
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #19 of 63: waves of violet go crashing and laughing (sffog) Sun 28 Mar 04 18:29
    
The Dino Valente version from his 68 solo album:

Me and my uncle, went riding on down, West Colorado to Texas town, We
stopped over in Santa Fe, That being the point, bout half way, besides
it was the hottest part of the day, I took the horses, down to a stall,
 I went to a bar, ordered drinks for all, Three days in the saddle my
body hurt, It being summer I took off my shirt, I was trying to wash
off some of that dusty dirt, West Texas cowboys all over town, With the
liquor and money my friend is loaded down, So soon after pay day it
seemed a shame, So me and my uncle starts up a friendly game, we call
it High low jack and the winner takes the hand, My uncle starts to
winning, cowboys are getttin sore, One cowboy  calls  him down, and
then two more, They says he was a cheating off,  but that can't be, I
know my uncle, man he is as honest as me, I'm as honest as a Denver man
can be, One of those cowboys starts to draw, I shot him down my friend
before he saw me, I Shot another god damn he won't grow old,  In the
confusion my uncle grabbed the gold, we high-tailed it down to Mexico,
I love them cowboys, I love their gold, I love my uncle, God rest his
soul, Taught me good Man, taught me all I know. He Taught me so good, I
grabbed the gold, And I left him lying there by the side of the road
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #20 of 63: Marked from the Day That I was Born (ssol) Mon 29 Mar 04 07:49
    
Ah-yup... clear enuf for me. Don't gamble.
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #21 of 63: Alex Allan (alexallan) Thu 8 Apr 04 07:03
    
The Judy Collins version, along with several others (and John Phillips
story about why he didn't remember writing the song) is at the end of:
http://www.whitegum.com/songfile/MEANDMYU.HTM
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #22 of 63: Unctuous Q. Funkentelechy (xian) Mon 3 May 04 09:50
    
Hunter frequently mixes terms from realms such as cards even when they
don't make logical sense put together that way, sometimes just for the
sound of things, imho.
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #23 of 63: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Wed 30 Jun 04 06:01
    
<tnf>, I found the John Phillips / Judy Collins tequila (+?)
composition story in the GD Peak conference. Do you think it should be
copied here as well, since this conference seems to be developing into
a significant repository of lore, speculation and interpretation? Do
you think there might be other such gems buried in the GD Peak
listings?
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #24 of 63: David Gans (tnf) Wed 30 Jun 04 07:01
    

Moving information from <gdpeak.> to <deadsongs.vue> is a fine idea, but it
has to be done with the permission of the person who posted it over there.
If you're willingg and able to get permission, by all means please do.  Or
you can point us at the info annd we'll handle the requests.
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #25 of 63: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Wed 30 Jun 04 12:59
    
My instinctive feel for the etiquette of such things is functioning,
then. Or, to put it another way, it was your post, mate. I'll move it
if you're sweet with that.
  

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