“Each song has its own secret that’s different from another song, and each has its own life. Sometimes it has to be teased out, whereas other times it might come fast. There are no laws about songwriting or producing. It depends on what you’re doing, not just who you’re doing.” -Mark Knopfler
There are a whole bunch of great songs in the world, great for a myriad of different things. Some are great for dancing, others for jamming out to, still others for just relaxing and listening to, and then there are the ones that I love to blast while I drive. But it’s extraordinarily rare to find one that not only does all of these things for you, but also that tells an interesting lyrical story.
So this week, I present to you a Grateful Dead classic:
But Judy Collins didn’t write this song, either. Who did?
Years ago [John Phillips] 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.
Maybe someday I’ll try this with the astrophysics, but something tells me it wouldn’t quite work out the same way. Have a great Labor Day weekend, and hope you enjoyed the song and its story!