deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #26 of 63: Alex Allan (alexallan) Wed 30 Jun 04 20:27
    
The liner notes for Jphn Phillips' album "Phillips 66" have an account
of the writing of the song:

"John often used to tell the story behind "Me And My Uncle." Years ago
he began receiving publishing royalties from a song on a Judy Collins
record with which he was unfamiliar. It was titled "Me And My Uncle."
He called Judy to let her know of the mistake because he hadn't written
any such song. She laughed and told him that about a year before, in
Arizona after one of her concerts, they had a 'Tequila' night back at
the hotel with Stephen Stills, Neil Young and a few others. They were
running a blank cassette and John proceeded to write "Me And My Uncle"
on the spot. The next day, John woke up to the tequila sunrise with no
recollection of the songwriting incident. Judy kept the cassette from
that evening and then, without informing John, recorded the song for
her own record. Over the years the song was recorded by several people,
and eventually became a standard of the Grateful Dead. John used to
joke that, little by little, with each royalty check, the memory of
writing the song would come back to him."
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #27 of 63: Tim Lynch (masonskids) Wed 30 Jun 04 20:35
    
Ha!  That's great!!
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #28 of 63: David Gans (tnf) Wed 30 Jun 04 22:24
    
Robiin, feel free to pport my comments from over there to overhere.
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #29 of 63: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Thu 1 Jul 04 06:18
    
While Alex's post covers the same ground, I think this extract from a
GD Hour interview (originally posted by David Gans in GD Peak) still
has more than enough new nuance to be worth recording here. Whatever
"that thing" was, it clearly worked to summon the muse when blended
with tequila.

JOHNSON: Can you tell us the history of the song "Me and My Uncle"
that you wrote?

PHILLIPS: Yeah. I guess I could. It's just related to my brother, my
older brother. His name was Tom and when he was eighteen-years-old, it
was 1941 in December and the bomb - I mean, the war started, Pearl
Harbor and all that. He was a senior in high school and they had the
buddy system and he and eighteen of his school mates joined the Marine
Corps together and they said, "We'll stick you in the same company,
the same platoon." He was the only one who came back after that. Five
or six year stint he did in the Marine Corps and he fought all the
battles in Iwo Jima, Saipan, all that stuff. The whole time, he should
have been having social experiences and meeting people and what was he
doing? He was killing Japanese. So when he got back, he never could
adjust to being a regular member of society again, or just working the
rest of his life. I always felt terrible for him, for that. And
somehow I related, I don't know how this happened, but "Me and My
Uncle" came to mean Tom and myself, somehow.

JOHNSON: You never recorded that. Who did?

PHILLIPS: I just recorded that for the first time ever. Itbs coming
out in September, or by Thanksgiving, anyway. Grateful Dead did it.
Glen Campbell did it. Judy Collins did it. Everyone. But I never did
it. I didn't know I'd written it, as a matter of fact. There was a
party after a concert in Phoenix, Arizona, and everyone was in
Scottsdale, and McGuinn was there and Judy Collins. A lot of people
had done this thing. There was a little tape recorder there. I was
drinking tequila and I woke up in the morning and there was no one
there except the worm and myself were still there. Everyone else had
gone. I had a terrible hangover and so I left, finally got on my
airplane and got out of there. About six months later I heard the song
on a Judy Collins album. I said, "Nice song." And then it said J.
Phillips underneath it and I got a check for it. So I called up Judy
and I said, "It's not my shtick. I never wrote that song." [Laughs]
And she said, "Yeah. I have the tape of it, John, of you writing it
that night at that party." And she sent it to me and sure enough.
There it was. [Laughs] It was like a spontaneous song. It never was
edited or revised. Did it all at once.
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #30 of 63: John P. McAlpin (john-p-mcalpin) Thu 1 Jul 04 07:43
    
Very cool.

My favorite non-GD version has been John Denver's for some time now.
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #31 of 63: David A. Mason (mntnwolf) Fri 17 Sep 04 01:48
    
This song presents quite the same situation and ending as Jack Straw,
doesn't it?  Just from a very different POV.  This has long struck me.

MAMU is the younger member of that ill-fated team (Jack, in my mind)
drunk in a Mexican bar after the killing and (successful, for now) 
flight across the border -- bragging stupidly about what he done, 
the booze having dulled away his feelings of regret & ominous fore-
boding (that he won't get away with it much longer, and will be some-
how punished for murdering his older-friend/mentor (Shannon) -- "One
man gone and another to go").  He boasts that he was just 'grabbing 
the gold as he'd been well-taught', to impress the bargirls* with 
his Machismo -- doesn't want to talk (or even think about) the real
reason, how troubled his relations with greedy Shannon had become.

*(think Felina of El Paso; that over-romanticized song could be 
the tale of how Jack does meet his destined-to-be-violent end).

Jack Straw is the same tale told by a narrator, with movie-style 
quotes and full-on ominous foreboding, and still sympathy for Jack
the friend-killer (makes it seem like over-greedy over-violent
Shannon's own fault), and a touch of titilating gangsta-life-decadence
("We can share the women, we can share the wine").  More "objective",
more literary.


Now Weir sez that he and Hunter just thought Jack Straw up "just after
reading 'Of Mice and Men' for about the tenth time", Gans told us in
March 2004.  But he had been singing MAMU regularly for over two years
by then; it's impossible to me that the very-similar themes were not
noticed by him/them -- that MAMU was not a kinda model for Jack Straw. 
They're definitely a pair, like a Clapton blues tune copied off one by
Robert Johnson or Muddy Waters.

And perhaps Weir's love of MAMU had prompted his re-reading of 'Of
Mice and Men' ...  or vice-versa?


Even more -- i also always think of Dylan's 1974 "Lily, Rosemary and
the Jack of Hearts" as a kinda Prequel to the MAMU / Jack Straw story
-- a tale of "Jack" when he was even younger, brashly successful and
carefree as a crook can be, but not yet reckless (before he hooked up
with Shannon and started drinking too much).

So, a quartet Western Opera -- LR&JOH, Jack Straw, MAMU, El Paso...
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #32 of 63: David Gans (tnf) Fri 17 Sep 04 10:23
    
Very interesting!
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #33 of 63: Tim Lynch (masonskids) Fri 17 Sep 04 12:40
    
you could add Mexicali Blues into that mix too
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #34 of 63: Marked from the Day That I was Born (ssol) Sat 18 Sep 04 11:20
    
I'd be happy with that! Heavy stuff, tho.
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #35 of 63: or, if you prefer, "the film" (xian) Sat 18 Sep 04 11:57
    
Who would you cast in Jack Straw, the Movie?
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #36 of 63: David A. Mason (mntnwolf) Sun 19 Sep 04 00:53
    
Jack Nicolson as Shannon...
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #37 of 63: Marked from the Day That I was Born (ssol) Sun 19 Sep 04 15:06
    
The Eagle that circles the sky...
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #38 of 63: Lightning in a Box (unkljohn) Sun 19 Sep 04 16:04
    
Clint Eastwood and Jack........
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #39 of 63: David Dodd (ddodd) Mon 20 Sep 04 14:18
    
Now THERE's an interesting take on the lyrics: who would play the roles in
the movie?
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #40 of 63: David A. Mason (mntnwolf) Wed 22 Sep 04 00:07
    
Clint would be great as "Uncle" Shannon!  Or would've been 20 years
ago...  Russel Crowe or Hugh Jackman as Jack Straw.  Even Johnny Depp?
Selma Hyack as Felina the El Paso bargirl, Nicole Kidman as Mexacali's
Billie Jean.

OK, i know these are overly obvious big-star choices, but i don't
know much about today's less-known rising talents...
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #41 of 63: complex, but cheerful (izzie) Wed 22 Sep 04 06:21
    

Nicole Kidman as Billie Jean?  nah... Billie Jean'd be shorter, softer-
featured, with big huge brown eyes and cascades of soft black wavy hair.

I like Hugh Jackman as Jack Straw though!
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #42 of 63: beneath the blue suburban skies (aud) Wed 22 Sep 04 07:09
    
yeah, it does say "raven hair"
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #43 of 63: complex, but cheerful (izzie) Wed 22 Sep 04 09:05
    

Summer Glau.  she'd be my Billie Jean actress.

(the character River from the TV show, Firefly)
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #44 of 63: David A. Mason (mntnwolf) Sat 25 Sep 04 02:27
    
I don't suppose by coincidence that British Foreign Secretary Jack
Straw (who just defended Cat Stevens) has any acting talent...?
Maybe he could at least do a cameo for us...
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #45 of 63: David A. Mason (mntnwolf) Sat 25 Sep 04 02:30
    
> yeah, it does say "raven hair"

OK then, Mike Douglas's wife!   plenty hot enuff, with suitable
degenerate / evil flavors capable.
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #46 of 63: from TIM WHITE (tnf) Tue 28 Sep 04 10:44
    



 Tim writes:


 Jack Straw the British Foreign Sec has no talent for anything apart from
 being a snivelling little piece of shit. If he has to do a cameo, could he
 be The Watchman? Then we can see him get knocked on the head by Shannon. I'm
 not a violent man, but I make exceptions for some people...

 I see the characters as younger, like the boys in Cormac McCarthy's Border
 Trilogy books (All The Pretty Horses etc), or the young Ben Johnson and
 Harry Carey Jr. in John Ford movies, or in a different location, Dustin Hof-
 fman and Jon Voight in Midnight Cowboy.

 Tim
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #47 of 63: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Wed 29 Sep 04 12:39
    
Should it start with Wharf Rat and then flash back? "On the day that I
was born, Daddy sat down and cried ...". Somewhere in another .vue
song thread (Wharf Rat I think) I speculated that there was a narrative
thread running through the GD canon. Sugaree fits in there along with
Loser and The Deal. Anyone game to put together an ititial "straw man"
list?
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #48 of 63: Melinda Belleville (mellobelle) Wed 29 Sep 04 17:03
    
Sounds like a good thesis for a paper to present at the Pop Culture
Conf in Abq in Feb.

Can I talk you into it?
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #49 of 63: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Thu 30 Sep 04 06:36
    
Well, I'm sure to get some constructive criticism along the way. Let
me see what I can do ...
  
deadsongs.vue.132 : Me And My Uncle
permalink #50 of 63: Christian Crumlish (xian) Thu 30 Sep 04 09:51
    
add in Must Have Been the Roses ("All I know I could not leave her
there"), Brown-Eyed Women ("Raised eight boys, only I turned bad"), and
Cream-Puff War ("I can't believe you really want me to die").
  

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