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Grateful Dead — Uncle John's Band
Album: Workingman's Dead
Avg rating:
7.2

Your rating:
Total ratings: 2304









Released: 1970
Length: 4:41
Plays (last 30 days): 1
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
Whoa oh, what I want to know is are you kind?

It's a buck dancer's choice, my friends, 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?
Whoa 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
Whoa 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
Whoa oh, what I want to know: how does the song go?

Come hear Uncle John's Band
By the riverside
Got some things to talk about
Here beside the rising tide

Come hear Uncle John's Band
Playing to the tide
Come along or go alone
He's come to take his children home

Whoa oh, what I want to know: how does the song go?

Come hear Uncle John's Band
By the riverside
Got some things to talk about
Here beside the rising tide

Come hear Uncle John's Band
Playing to the tide
Come along or go alone
He's come to take his children home
Comments (252)add comment
Still waiting for the music to start.
sounds like amateurs, first practice, out of tune. Overrated!
this is so amateurish ...
I have never understood deadheads. It is a decent band but hardly something special. I sure as hell wouldn't follow them around. In 1970 there were a lot of better bands.
 nelsonha wrote:
I'm not a Deadhead, but this is one of their songs that make me wish I was.
 
That's how it starts, lol :)
 idiot_wind wrote:
Ya know....their harmonies are pretty good on this song. 

I heard somewhere, the Dead "took some lessons" from CSNY on harmonizing. 

  
 

Crosby denies this.  I don't have the full quote in front of me, but paraphrased he explained it as simple cross-pollination.  They were all playing with each other, going to each others shows, jamming in side-projects, etc.  He said the Dead were always good harmonizers, and if they maybe started doing it more because they were hearing what CSNY was doing, it wasn't anything more involved than that.
Long live the GD!!
I don't know what happened to me at the time, I had given it a 3. When it's obviously a 6. Opinions change! 
 DanFHiggins wrote:
Who else had that crystal peyote from Oswald back in the day?
 
I think you mean Owsley? And his LSD?

I wonder what his stuff would go for these days...

c.
A long strange trip. Always grateful.
 grhorn wrote:
what is this song about?
 
Maybe Wikipedia can help you further
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncle_John's_Band

and 
http://artsites.ucsc.edu/gdead/agdl/uncle.html

what is this song about?
I'm evidently missing something here; I really don't understand what people see in this. I find myself wondering whether it just rides the coat-tails of some of their more interesting tracks, I just find it kind of feeble. This time around RP followed it with some Wilco and that simply made this GD track seem even less impressive.
 idiot_wind wrote:
Ya know....their harmonies are pretty good on this song. 

I heard somewhere, the Dead "took some lessons" from CSNY on harmonizing. 

  
 

I think their harmonies suck! Plain awful noise.  But then I can't stand cilantro either.
Who else had that crystal peyote from Oswald back in the day?
Ya know....their harmonies are pretty good on this song. 

I heard somewhere, the Dead "took some lessons" from CSNY on harmonizing. 

  
Nice drumming.  Never really noticed it before.
All true. this gets a 7 for the studio version.  What baffles me is my wife loves studio dead and thinks the live stuff just goes on too long...Sometimes i wonder how we ever got married!

 
jamesat43 wrote:
 namesbenny wrote:
I remember my brother referring to this song many years ago, distilling it's message as "C'mon, be a Deadhead!" It really is their true anthem.

Yes, this is the gateway drug (more broadly, I would say American Beauty and Workingman's Dead are the gateway medicine cabinet).  But the Deadhead club has no membership dues or requirements.  As Gary said in a pre-show for one of the (on-going) COVID-era Shakedown Stream Friday night broadcasts of celebrated shows, "if you want to be on the bus, you're on the bus." Yes, the vocal harmonies are not the tightest, and the collaborative improvs sometimes lose their way, but as you become familiar with more of their songs, you appreciate more the spaces between them.  That's why the setlists (which draw from 160+ songs) often feature segues like Scarlet (Begonias) > Fire (On The Mountain).  Or my fave: China > Rider.   

Somehow it just doesn't bother me to hear Jerry's fragile voice break on "I wish I was a headlight on a northbound train...I'd shine my light through the cool Colorado rain".   

Reminds me of a comment @BillG once made about Mick's "miss" in the opening line of Ruby Tuesday.

You know you got nothin' better to do this Friday.  Tune in to Shakedown Stream

 It's for a good cause.  So is Radio Paradise.
 

 namesbenny wrote:
I remember my brother referring to this song many years ago, distilling it's message as "C'mon, be a Deadhead!" It really is their true anthem.

Yes, this is the gateway drug (more broadly, I would say American Beauty and Workingman's Dead are the gateway medicine cabinet).  But the Deadhead club has no membership dues or requirements.  As Gary said in a pre-show for one of the (on-going) COVID-era Shakedown Stream Friday night broadcasts of celebrated shows, "if you want to be on the bus, you're on the bus." Yes, the vocal harmonies are not the tightest, and the collaborative improvs sometimes lose their way, but as you become familiar with more of their songs, you appreciate more the spaces between them.  That's why the setlists (which draw from 160+ songs) often feature segues like Scarlet (Begonias) > Fire (On The Mountain).  Or my fave: China > Rider.   

Somehow it just doesn't bother me to hear Jerry's fragile voice break on "I wish I was a headlight on a northbound train...I'd shine my light through the cool Colorado rain".   

Reminds me of a comment @BillG once made about Mick's "miss" in the opening line of Ruby Tuesday.

You know you got nothin' better to do this Friday.  Tune in to Shakedown Stream

 It's for a good cause.  So is Radio Paradise.
 kretinburger wrote:
Bloody awful.Sorry.
 
To each their own.. The big question is... are you kind... you said sorry... you felt the groove and just don't want to admit it.  
Bloody awful.Sorry.
Amazing what time does...about 7 years ago I rated this low because I wasn't a GD fan. I hear this now and am refreshed. I suppose I'm growing up. Yay me!
goddanm, have you seen the light?
Deadhead here!  Although I did pay for tickets :-) 
I do not know why this song resonates with me so much. The lyrics are fairly impenetrable (but I'm open to learn), sort of a stream-of-consciousness thing. But some great lyrical snippets in there. For no reason I can explain, my fave Dead song.
c.
Goosebumps Caught the Dead live 20 years
 bluefrog wrote:
Nope. Still don't get the fascination with the Dead.  You had to be there ?
 
Real simple. It's the music. It's the vibe.  All about space and time. 
Very often didn't quite love the GD, but always loved this one.
My first RP song today Excellent It’s all so good
+1 today, 8 to 9, with a big RIP to Mr. Hunter....and Long Live RP!!
 timmywilson wrote:
“We're like licorice. Not everybody likes licorice, but the people who like licorice really like licorice.” ― Jerry Garcia I really like licorice...
 


This is quintessential Dead............as good as it gets!  And this is REALLY good!
Nope. Still don't get the fascination with the Dead.  You had to be there ?
As so often or even almost always with GD it makes my mind wander far away and open up for my soul.
Never cared for them. PSD.
Tried Scarlet Begonias by Sublime?

 
number7 wrote:


 

 Tomasni wrote:
I'm not sure why I don't like the Dead but never have. Skip or turn off. Covers are even worse. Kinda odd as there isn't much I skip. I have tried to like them, I just don't. My room mate happens to be a Dead Head. (long before we met)
 
 

Just saw Dead and Co. at Wrigley Field in Chicago.  They are still the best live band out there.!  Great show!  They played this song too.
PERFECT
I bought my first copy of the Electric Koolaid Acid Test in San Francisco Dec '81; I was 21. Read it on the bus cross country back to Toronto. I'd been Tripping to the likes of Floyd and Hawkwind for a few years by that point and mentally projected that keyboard and screaming guitar approach onto what I was reading about the Dead and the acid tests. Couldn't wait to get home and score some! I was more than a tad taken aback when I bought this album - forst, realizing I actually knew a couple tracks, just unaware they were by the Dead, and secondly by the folky laid back tunes... this was ACID music?! Took me a while to get and appreciate the California Mellow vibe (versus the British "sonic attack" approach). I've collected most of their music over the years and doggone I declare this remains a favourite album.
 nelsonha wrote:
I'm not a Deadhead, but this is one of their songs that make me wish I was.
 

Agree  but I "skip" anyway
I'm not a Deadhead, but this is one of their songs that make me wish I was.
Um.. well  that was weird...
So, this morning I decided to play this song because it randomly popped up on my iTunes window as I was scrolling through something to select for my early morning "pick me up". After it finished playing, I thought of RP.... which is where I think I had first heard it playing a while back for the first time in probably 40 years, so I put RP on. Then Bam! the second song you played, Bill, was this!  Are you listening in?
 
Mmmm, double salt licorice from Belgium.  



timmywilson wrote:
“We're like licorice. Not everybody likes licorice, but the people who like licorice really like licorice.”

― Jerry Garcia

I realy like licorice...
 

Just another Thank You RP. Love this song.
This song brings back so many wonderful memories. I'm so grateful I was able to hear Jerry play this one...many times. {#Guitarist}
 Webfoot wrote:
My favorite GD song. 
 
Mine too.
My favorite GD song. 
“We're like licorice. Not everybody likes licorice, but the people who like licorice really like licorice.” ― Jerry Garcia I realy like licorice...
 NeilBlanchard wrote:
So, Bill mentions PSD right before playing a Dead song ...

  

junebaby65 wrote:

Ha!

 
Now that's funny!
 NeilBlanchard wrote:
So, Bill mentions PSD right before playing a Dead song ...

 
Ha!
Oh my...is this a reminder that Summer is here and now, outdoor shows are happening, and it's time to get on the road?  
So, Bill mentions PSD right before playing a Dead song ...
Don't {#Naughty} bogart {#Roflol}that joint. {#Roflol}
{#Yes}{#Yes}{#Yes} 
Cool.

Going to see a GD "cover band" tomorrow night at a venue (like last rime) that is very conducive to vibes, grooves, dancing people, and those funny clouds of smoke.

 
 baylees wrote:
From my modest hotel room window in Las Vegas, I watched. It was years ago. The dead, or some form of, was in town playing. A Hippy was brushing his teeth.  Beside a VW Micro bus ....how corny,  typical.  Not caring were his expectorant went.

I think he is now an assistant bank manager in Milwaukee.  2 kids, a dog, 9-5.  

The culture was BS.  The BS music remains.  In false dreams of the past................ 

 
How is your job flipping burgers 5-9 and judging others 24-7 going?

this is just foolish, need to clean ya ears out {#Cowboy} 

 

baylees wrote:

Play Trucking or don't play any Dead.  JG overrated.

 


Play Trucking or don't play any Dead.  JG overrated.
From my modest hotel room window in Las Vegas, I watched. It was years ago. The dead, or some form of, was in town playing. A Hippy was brushing his teeth.  Beside a VW Micro bus ....how corny,  typical.  Not caring were his expectorant went.

I think he is now an assistant bank manager in Milwaukee.  2 kids, a dog, 9-5.  

The culture was BS.  The BS music remains.  In false dreams of the past................ 
Yeh!

Such a beautiful, trippy, little song.

The lyrics are provocative, fun, but also cryptic.

The musicianship, as always with the GD, is top notch.

And you can sing along and do a groovy, GD kind of dance to it...you know...the way people dance at their shows. A cross between ballet and a train wreck.     
Jerry left us twenty years ago today.  Like so many others way too soon.  Miss you, Jerry
Maybe a hologram Tupac style
 

treatment_bound wrote:
Will the ghost of Jerry show up at "Soldier's" this summer?

 


 norbertZ wrote:
9 - one of my favourite Grateful Dead Songs {#Bananajam}
 
Actually, this is the *only* GD song I like!
Will the ghost of Jerry show up at "Soldier's" this summer?
GD NYEve runs in SF.  Whoa, what a good time.  NYE staple, no doubt.
9 - one of my favourite Grateful Dead Songs {#Bananajam}
 mcdonna wrote:

The out-of-tune singing is what's kept me from being a Dead fan ... great tunes and I'm willing to believe they do great live performances, but dang they can't carry a tune! Hurts my ears.

 
I think, this is a great song for/with several parts, it has a high complexity. It's real complicated to sing in parts with crossing melody lines (please try it with a friend and send me your yt-link!). Of course, in this song not in all cases everything went really really fine, but I'm sure GD won't stupidly sing the line of the guitar alltogether! I think this fakt makes the real difference to boring songs like "happy birthday" etc. =B-)
 kingart wrote:
I'm so not a deadhead, but this is one great song. Foot tapping, evocative, happy, terrific lyrics and music. So little that's better. 

 
{#Hug}{#Clap}{#Dance}
 mcdonna wrote:

The out-of-tune singing is what's kept me from being a Dead fan ... great tunes and I'm willing to believe they do great live performances, but dang they can't carry a tune! Hurts my ears.

 
American Idol is for you.
Went out and got this the day it dropped, not knowing what it was, but fully expecting another electro-psychedelic journey like Anthem of the Sun. Simply stunned. Like The Beatles (The White Album), it was so incredibly different, that we played it over, and over, and over. Talk about a band that could open your ears and shut your mouth.
Can't ever think of a time this song didn't make me smile.
 ecomaniac wrote:

Perfection is overated.
 
It certantly is.
 mcdonna wrote:

The out-of-tune singing is what's kept me from being a Dead fan ... great tunes and I'm willing to believe they do great live performances, but dang they can't carry a tune! Hurts my ears.

 
Perfection is overated.
 fiddler wrote:
I really do dislike the use of autotune. But this track?...may be a case for had it existed. By sheer will I really do try to get those vocals to match with the guitars. I guess I'm not willing it hard enough. Painful.

 
The out-of-tune singing is what's kept me from being a Dead fan ... great tunes and I'm willing to believe they do great live performances, but dang they can't carry a tune! Hurts my ears.
One of my favorites among the Dead's many likable songs
BTW, this entire album is a keeper
I'm so not a deadhead, but this is one great song. Foot tapping, evocative, happy, terrific lyrics and music. So little that's better. 
big stud Romeo Tuma wrote:
love it...
 

Still love it...  time flies when we're having fun...
 
 dew34 wrote:


Just a beauitiful record and song. Not a deadhead and understand the reluctance of many to endure a dead show, but here you can feel the making of a truly great track. The lyrics are awesome.

 

I personally helped Robert Hunter with the lyrics. Over a session of quaaludes, cocaine, and a case of vodka. He was suffering from writer's block at the time.
 sandpebble wrote:


It may be a little soon but I want to bump this comment up anyway. Thanks IW!{#Sunny}

 

Just a beauitiful record and song. Not a deadhead and understand the reluctance of many to endure a dead show, but here you can feel the making of a truly great track. The lyrics are awesome.
 idiot_wind wrote:
Just for once drop all the silly hippie and drug references and listen to the music.

This is their best album and this may be their song.

Beautiful, happy, thoughtful, joyful.  

And just like that....it's gone.
 

It may be a little soon but I want to bump this comment up anyway. Thanks IW!{#Sunny}
The most overrated band ever!
I really do dislike the use of autotune. But this track?...may be a case for had it existed. By sheer will I really do try to get those vocals to match with the guitars. I guess I'm not willing it hard enough. Painful.
 idiot_wind wrote:
Just for once drop all the silly hippie and drug references and listen to the music.

This is their best album and this may be their song.

Beautiful, happy, thoughtful, joyful.  

And just like that....it's gone.
 
Thanks so much for this!
Awesome.... {#Cowboy}

johnjconn wrote:

 


Ain't no time to hate...


Just for once drop all the silly hippie and drug references and listen to the music.

This is their best album and this may be their song.

Beautiful, happy, thoughtful, joyful.  

And just like that....it's gone.
Fun stuff.
this song is very poopy.
E S A D D H   a 10
Changing it to a 10 to spite all the naysayers. Great memories associated with this song. I guess you had to be there.
I don't know about you, but I love these lyrics!
It's the same story the crow told me; its the only one he knows.
Like the morning sun you come and like the wind you go.
Aint no time to hate, barely time to wait,
Wo, oh, what I want to know, where does the time go?

 burdell wrote:
Much prefer the JImmy Buffet remake to this boring, soulless version.
 
Yeah, cuz Jimmy Buffet's got soul.  Have another cheezeburger and wash it down with a margarita at Margaritaville (tm).
second Dead song today...one too many
What a dreadful and irritating track!
one of the better songs of one ogf the most embarrasing bands of all time. :-((
this one reminds me a little bit of the Incredible String Band, but of course ISB were not able to perform such a weak version ... 
 DeeCee1109 wrote:
This is what the Beach Boys would have sounded like if they'd been stoners.
 
They weren't? Are you sure?
This is what the Beach Boys would have sounded like if they'd been stoners.
I am just NOT a Dead fan. This is boring.
 Canlistener wrote:
Oh man.... Dylan now these guys?  I must have done something to tick of RP to be punished like this.  {#Frustrated}
 
I share your sentiment.
 lshinkawa wrote:

I completely agree! This is the only Dead song that I actually dig.
 
This is one of a very small number of Dead songs that I like.  Maybe I missed that particular LSD trip by a couple decades, but I've never been a fan.
 burdell wrote:
Much prefer the JImmy Buffet remake to this boring, soulless version.
 

Wow... That's harsh dude...
 sirdroseph wrote:
Dead is usually meh, but this song is awesome!
 
I completely agree! This is the only Dead song that I actually dig.
This is a very kind song selection.  Thanks for playing.
Dead is usually meh, but this song is awesome!
A 10!!! Listen to the lyrics, and drums and bongos at the end.
well said.  and i would add their singing is irritating to the extreme!

 
Catalytic wrote:
This is about the most boring thing I've ever heard and I've been listening to music for over 40 years. I've heard bland religious campfire songs with more verve. 
 


Count me among the GD haters ....This gets a 1  
{#Dancingbanana_2}
Oh man.... Dylan now these guys?  I must have done something to tick of RP to be punished like this.  {#Frustrated}
Greatful song!
I guess you had to be there, and you were somewhere else
 woozurbuddy wrote:
If it's The Dead it must be a 10!
 
On a scale that reaches into the billions.

They're like spray can cheese.


Yeah, go outside, so you can't hear this godawful song.

 
Marcuse wrote:

Whew. Maybe raise the shades, talk a walk outside, something.
 


This song sucks big time. Awful lyrics, boring music.
Much prefer the JImmy Buffet remake to this boring, soulless version.
This is about the most boring thing I've ever heard and I've been listening to music for over 40 years. I've heard bland religious campfire songs with more verve. 
Buck dancers choice. My favorite music store here Portland Maine. Always love the Dead.
 bachbeet wrote:
The two albums from this period, this one and American Beauty, are my favorites of theirs.  Not a lemon on either one.  Great tunes to suit just about any occasion.
 
Wore out a lot of vinyl on those 2 back in the 70's

 slartibart_O wrote:
Kind of like any movie with Rob Schneider in it but has there ever been a decent song featuring a wood block in the percussion section?

 
There have been hundreds of "decent" songs with woodblocks in them, perhaps not so much in the Classic Rock genre though.

The Grateful Dead songs dealt quite a bit with mortality, and Workingmans Dead album maybe more than any other. These are non-trivial songs that express a coherent and powerful world view, which is why there are so many "deadicated" Deadheads, and why the Dead have been relevant for nearly half a century.  This is a timeless all-American album whose sound will never be dated, and certainly isn't more than 40 years after its release.