deadsongs.vue.209 : Uncle John's Band
permalink #26 of 46: David Gans (tnf) Tue 8 Nov 11 09:27
    

I heard "chain" in the Europe '72 performances.
  
deadsongs.vue.209 : Uncle John's Band
permalink #27 of 46: David Dodd (ddodd) Tue 8 Nov 11 10:52
    
Pretty sure I used "chain" in the Annotated Lyrics book...of course, I
don't have a copy handy at this moment.
  
deadsongs.vue.209 : Uncle John's Band
permalink #28 of 46: coal will turn to gray (comet) Tue 8 Nov 11 19:29
    
Maybe he meant "change".
  
deadsongs.vue.209 : Uncle John's Band
permalink #29 of 46: Alex Allan (alexallan) Wed 9 Nov 11 04:41
    
David - you used "range" in the book!
  
deadsongs.vue.209 : Uncle John's Band
permalink #30 of 46: David Dodd (ddodd) Wed 9 Nov 11 13:55
    
Aha. That's what I get for using Box of Rain as my authoritative text.
Always loved the rhyme with "chain."
  
deadsongs.vue.209 : Uncle John's Band
permalink #31 of 46: David Dodd (ddodd) Wed 9 Nov 11 13:55
    
The not-quite-rhyme. The unexpected end to the couplet. 
  
deadsongs.vue.209 : Uncle John's Band
permalink #32 of 46: Christian Crumlish (xian) Wed 9 Nov 11 15:45
    
there are others of the heteronyms or whatever they're called.

things like how in Black Peter the lyric "See here how everything"
also suggests "See, hear how everything" and many others like that.
Things that are one transitive step away from a more common or likely
or expected lyric.
  
deadsongs.vue.209 : Uncle John's Band
permalink #33 of 46: from JOHN RYAN (tnf) Wed 4 Jul 12 07:39
    


John Ryan writes:

I believe Ice Nine refers to Kurt Vonnegut's great book Cat's Cradle, in
which a strange, brilliant scientist invents an ultimate weapon, more deadly
than atomic weapons, after looking at how cannonballs are stacked. Is this
drawing too long a bow for 'their walls are made of cannonballs, their motto
is don't tread on me'?
  
deadsongs.vue.209 : Uncle John's Band
permalink #34 of 46: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Thu 5 Jul 12 20:48
    
Possibly, yes. 

Of course, Garcia was a fan of Vonnegut and optioned the film rights
to 'The Sirens of Titan'. I suspect Hunter likes Vonnegut too, although
I don't know that for a fact. The GD publishing company is Ice Nine. 

I think that those lines in UJB refer to a certain kind of patriotism
that values enemies more highly than friends.

When we were looking for a boarding school for my daughter, Hannah, I
applied a "Vonnegut Test". I would check how many Vonnegut books were
on the shelves in the library. Any less than six titles was a fail. I
guess these days one might just check for a library.
  
deadsongs.vue.209 : Uncle John's Band
permalink #35 of 46: David Gans (tnf) Thu 5 Jul 12 22:37
    

You may be right about that.


> I think that those lines in UJB refer to a certain kind of patriotism that
> values enemies more highly than friends.

Well said.
  
deadsongs.vue.209 : Uncle John's Band
permalink #36 of 46: Christian Crumlish (xian) Fri 6 Jul 12 16:49
    
I never heard it that way. I heard it as a plain sort of statement of
toughness and resilience.
  
deadsongs.vue.209 : Uncle John's Band
permalink #37 of 46: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Sat 7 Jul 12 20:30
    
I think the key is that the song is full of "you" and "me" but in
those lines it is "their".
  
deadsongs.vue.209 : Uncle John's Band
permalink #38 of 46: *%* (jewel) Tue 10 Jul 12 09:12
    
I have always heard that line as a lemonade-from-lemons approach to taking
the challenges life gives you and building from that an internal structure
of strength and self-empowerment and protection.  The line introduces the
band so I took it as a reflection of the ethos of the band and its
followers.  That is the "they" in the song, to me.  You and me should go see
them by the riverside.
  
deadsongs.vue.209 : Uncle John's Band
permalink #39 of 46: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Tue 10 Jul 12 20:59
    
Interesting, I will give that one a bit of a run in the aging
biocomputer. I don't quite get how the line introduces the band, though
I guess it is linked through the chorus structure.
  
deadsongs.vue.209 : Uncle John's Band
permalink #40 of 46: *%* (jewel) Wed 11 Jul 12 08:18
    
It is the last line before the first "Come hear uncle John's band" line
which is what I meant by it introduces the band.
  
deadsongs.vue.209 : Uncle John's Band
permalink #41 of 46: David Gans (tnf) Wed 11 Jul 12 09:45
    
I think "Come hear Uncle John's Band" is an exhortation to avoid the sort of
people who buid walls of cannonballs and yell "Don't tread on me!"
  
deadsongs.vue.209 : Uncle John's Band
permalink #42 of 46: *%* (jewel) Wed 11 Jul 12 10:32
    
Oooh - opposite interpretation but makes sense and I like it.
  
deadsongs.vue.209 : Uncle John's Band
permalink #43 of 46: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Wed 11 Jul 12 14:47
    
That is what I have been hearing too. I had that impression long
before "Don't tread on me" was adopted by the tea partiers.
  
deadsongs.vue.209 : Uncle John's Band
permalink #44 of 46: David Gans (tnf) Wed 11 Jul 12 15:33
    
Being a furriner, RObin, you may not be aware that the Tea Party recycled
that phrase from the American Revolution.
  
deadsongs.vue.209 : Uncle John's Band
permalink #45 of 46: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Thu 12 Jul 12 15:23
    
Yes, knew that (hence "adopted"). Probably, as a furriner, I am able
to more easily see negative aspects of a phrase like that.
  
deadsongs.vue.209 : Uncle John's Band
permalink #46 of 46: David Dodd (ddodd) Thu 4 Apr 13 08:53
    
Posted on behalf of Jonathan Siegel:

I was reading a lovely biography of US Grant last evening (by Jean
Edward Smith), and came across references to a minor General named John
Sedgwick, affectionately known as "Uncle John".  I have long thought
the lyrics for the song made repeated references to the Civil War - the
"don't tread on me" bit - though originating in the Revolution - was
an important motto for the Confederate troops. ... with "walls are
built of cannonballs" and other allusions.  I believe it was written at
about the time of the Dead's early associations with The Band - who
were on and off writing pieces related to the Civil War. (Garcia's
riffs including Main Ten predate the lyrics by what, 6 months?). 
Sedgwick died at Spotsylvania in 1864, as Union troops were finally
advancing on Lee. As he stood safely at a great distance from the
Confederate line, Sedgwick turned to his troops and said that the
sharpshooters 'couldn't hit an elephant from this distance'. Just as he
uttered those words, he was taken down by a bullet to the head. ("when
life looks like easy street, there is danger at your door"). He was
apparently a real friend to both Grant and Meade.  Really even "the
rising tide" part could easily enough be an allusion to the Confederacy
as a whole.  The song began as almost a dirge - a ballad the first few
performances, before becoming more up-tempo and perhaps being
autobiographical about the Dead, and the metaphorical dangers they
faced... 
  



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