Grateful Dead – “Uncle John’s Band” Live
How Does The Song Go?
“Uncle John’s Band” was written by Jerry Garcia and composed by Jerry Hunter. It was released on June 14, 1970 for their album, “Workingman’s Dead.” This one is actually one of their most popular songs. The lyrics seem to resonate with each of our lives and just like any other Grateful Dead song, it contains an amazing story or insight and very much open for interpretation.
“Uncle John’s Band” has one of the Dead’s most immediately accessible and memorable melodies, set against a bluegrass-inspired folk arrangement with acoustic guitars.
- Included in the “The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll”
- Ranked at number 321 in the “Songs of the Century” list
There was enough controversy in this track to lead everyone to question Uncle John’s identity. There were those who believed they sang about John Hurt, a blues musician who has been a huge influence to the band. Others claimed it could be Jerry himself whose real name was Jerome John Garcia. Whatever it truly means, it’s a well-loved song.
When the Dead played the song, the crowd came together in a huge way. We were in that band; we were coming to hear Uncle John’s band by the riverside. We loved it when the words got muffed, and then the line “how does the song go?” would jump out at us.
Not only is it singable but it has that feel-good vibe that easily gives you a surge of happiness. I mean, very few songs can do that! Though it only received a “good” airplay in radio stations, it had a massive impact especially to the fans.
It’s arguably one of the band’s finest works!