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."
Tim Lynch (masonskids) Wed 30 Jun 04 20:35
Ha! That's great!!
David Gans (tnf) Wed 30 Jun 04 22:24
Robiin, feel free to pport my comments from over there to overhere.
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.
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.
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...
David Gans (tnf) Fri 17 Sep 04 10:23
Tim Lynch (masonskids) Fri 17 Sep 04 12:40
you could add Mexicali Blues into that mix too
Marked from the Day That I was Born (ssol) Sat 18 Sep 04 11:20
I'd be happy with that! Heavy stuff, tho.
or, if you prefer, "the film" (xian) Sat 18 Sep 04 11:57
Who would you cast in Jack Straw, the Movie?
David A. Mason (mntnwolf) Sun 19 Sep 04 00:53
Jack Nicolson as Shannon...
Marked from the Day That I was Born (ssol) Sun 19 Sep 04 15:06
The Eagle that circles the sky...
Lightning in a Box (unkljohn) Sun 19 Sep 04 16:04
Clint Eastwood and Jack........
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?
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...
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!
beneath the blue suburban skies (aud) Wed 22 Sep 04 07:09
yeah, it does say "raven hair"
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)
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...
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.
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
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?
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?
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 ...
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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