deadsongs.vue.229 : Down the Road
permalink #0 of 13: David Dodd (ddodd) Wed 30 Jun 04 15:05
Down the Road
Lyrics: Robert Hunter
Music: Hart, Jenkins, Welnick, Hidalgo
deadsongs.vue.229 : Down the Road
permalink #1 of 13: David Dodd (ddodd) Wed 30 Jun 04 15:06
Down The Road
Lyrics: Robert Hunter
Music: Hart, Jenkins, Welnick, Hidalgo

Originally played by Mickey Hart with Mystery Box, and then with some of his
other bands. Now played by him with The Dead.

Down the road to Union Station running through the fog
I thought I saw Joe Hill last night grinning like a dog
"I understand they did you in for everyone to see"
He smiled - shook his head - "that's a lie," said he
"I been on a mountain top observing from a cloud
Been in the hearts of workers milling with the crowd
My tears are shed for freedom and equality of means
My blood and perspiration oil the gears of your machine"

Down the road again
Down the road again

Down the road to Massachusetts driving through the night
I thought I saw Jack Kennedy hitchhiking by a light
I hit the brakes - backed up slow, and Kennedy got in
I said, "It's nice to see you lookin' back in shape again
Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe they gunned you down"
He just shook his head and looked off sadly with a frown
Said, "bullets are like waves, they only rearrange the sand
History turns upon the tides and not the deeds of man"


Driving down to Fiddler's Green to hear a tune or two
I thought I saw John Lennon there, looking kind of blue
I sat down beside him, said "I thought you bought the store"
He said "I heard that rumour, what can I do you for?"
"Have you written anything I might have never heard?"
He picked up his guitar and strummed a minor third
All I can recall of what he sang, for what it's worth
"Long as songs of mine are sung I'm with you on this earth"


From the corner of my eye I saw the sun explode
I didn't look directly 'cause it would have burned my soul
When the smoke and thunder cleared enough to look around
I heard a sweet guitar lick, an old familiar sound
I heard a laugh I recognised come rolling from the earth
Saw it rise into the skies like lightning giving birth
It sounded like Garcia but I couldn't see the face
Just the beard and the glass and a smile on empty space

deadsongs.vue.229 : Down the Road
permalink #2 of 13: Tim Lynch (masonskids) Wed 30 Jun 04 15:18
I love that song!
deadsongs.vue.229 : Down the Road
permalink #3 of 13: David Dodd (ddodd) Thu 1 Jul 04 08:53
I got shivers when I first heard it, and I played it the other day when my
little boy asked me if Mickey ever sings, and it gave me shivers again.
deadsongs.vue.229 : Down the Road
permalink #4 of 13: Marked from the Day That I was Born (ssol) Fri 2 Jul 04 17:14
Before I ever heard it, I read the lyric notes from the album box. I
was sitting at a bar in a mall.I started to weep and smile, and asked
the guy behind the bar to put it on the laserola.

He did.I smiled. I supressed my tears, A couple other folks in the
joint fell into the groove and also wiped away those tears. We are

Good tiiming, Hart!
deadsongs.vue.229 : Down the Road
permalink #5 of 13: neil (nlg) Thu 19 Aug 04 12:32
still gives me shivers every single time.  

Several of the verses have always reminded me of that David Allen Coe
song, The Ride, another one that tends to give me shivers whenever I
hear it.  Same kind of theme: a drifter/traveller encountering ghosts
of musical heros of the past.
deadsongs.vue.229 : Down the Road
permalink #6 of 13: David Dodd (ddodd) Fri 20 Aug 04 08:45
I'll have to find that!
deadsongs.vue.229 : Down the Road
permalink #7 of 13: Alex Allan (alexallan) Mon 23 Aug 04 14:05
I've only just come across a 1996 David Gans interview with Mickey
Hart in which Mickey explains that the song was originally written
before Jerry died, with a fourth verse that instead refered to Martin
Luther King.

Hunter performed this verse in a solo performance on 1 March 1997. A
reader of my site sent me the following transcription (with a few
unclear phrases):

Driving down the road all night, the sun is rising red
[Reciting] old stories, and conversing with the dead
I rode into [Sullen/Sullivan], low on gasoline
Been so long on empty, I been ridin' on a dream

The fellow at the station looked like Martin Luther King
"You're low on oil," he said, with an old familiar ring
"How far to the mountain, friend," I asked him face to face
"You're standing on it now," he said, "You just don't know the place"

Mickey Hart's account of how the Garcia verse got written is great:

DG: [Down The Road] must have been one of the last ones that got

MH: Oh, yeah, well, it got written, but then Hunter came in and
changed the last verse. He said, "You know the fourth verse? I've got a
better verse."

DG: Who was it before?

MH: The fourth verse? It was a Martin Luther King verse, you know.

DG: Uh-huh.

MH: I said, "Okay, write it down, let me see it." He said, "No." He
said, "Let me sing it." I go, "Okay, man -- go in there, and you know,
the mic's set up, go ahead. Let's hear it." And as soon as he was
halfway through it, you know, I just looked at him. I realized what he
had just done, you know. It was just right on, I mean you can imagine
what the control room was like at that very moment.

DG: Yeah.

MH: You know, just Hunter -- he just went outside, you know, [and]
lightning struck. It came to him like it usually does, and he just
poured it right out. I think he was still writing while he was singing.
It's like one of those kind of magical moments, just "shoop" -- "oh,
boy, this is exactly perfect." My sentiments exactly, and you know, it
couldn't have been -- it was exactly how we were feeling, and of course
we were all grieving and everything at this time, it happened right
after Jerry went. So this was a like, real spontaneous act on Hunter's
part. I mean, I would have never asked him to do it -- it entered my
mind, but I couldn't imagine anything that wouldn't be corny, you know,
and he managed to do it *very* well. Great sentiment.
deadsongs.vue.229 : Down the Road
permalink #8 of 13: David Dodd (ddodd) Mon 23 Aug 04 15:38
Thanks, Alex. Great to hear that story.
deadsongs.vue.229 : Down the Road
permalink #9 of 13: Christian Crumlish (xian) Tue 24 Aug 04 08:43
The song also brings to mind "I dreamed I saw St. Augustine alive as
you and me" which itself alludes to 

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
Alive as you and me
Says I "But Joe, you're ten years dead"
|: "I never died" says he. :|

"In Salt Lake, Joe, by God" says I,
Him standing by my bed
"They framed you on a murder charge"
|: Says Joe "But I ain't dead." :|

"The copper bosses killed you Joe,
They shot you Joe" says I
"Takes more than guns to kill a man"
|: Says Joe "I didn't die." :|
                And standing there as big as life,
And smiling with his eyes
Joe says "What they forgot to kill
|: Went on to organise." :|

"Joe Hill ain't dead" he says to me,
"Joe Hill ain't never died
Where workingmen are out on strike
|: Joe Hill is at their side." :|

From San Diego up to Maine,
In every mine and mill,
Where workers strike and organise,
|: Says he "You'll find Joe Hill." :|

At the time Down the Road came out Hunter told me in email
correspondence that he'd been reading I think it was Wallace Stegner's
novelization of Joe Hill's life. I'd better look up that title.
deadsongs.vue.229 : Down the Road
permalink #10 of 13: David Dodd (ddodd) Tue 24 Aug 04 13:11
Joe Hill: A Biographical Novel. Originally published as The Preacher and the
deadsongs.vue.229 : Down the Road
permalink #11 of 13: neil (nlg) Fri 1 Oct 04 14:07
David, here are Coe's lyrics:

The Ride, David Allen Coe

I was thumbin' back from Montgomery 
with a guitar on my back 
When a stranger pulled up beside me in an antique Cadillac. 
Well, he was dressed like 1950, half drunk and hallow eyed 
It's a long walk to Nashville, would you like a ride, son. 
He sat down in the front seat, and turned on the radio 
and them sad old songs comin' outta them speakers was solid country
Then I noticed the stranger was ghost white pale when he asked me for
a light. 
And knew there was somethin' strange about this ride. 

He said: Mister can you make folks cry when you play and sang. 
Can you pay your dues, can you moan the blues 
Can you bend them guitar strangs. 
He said: Boy, can you make folks feel what you feel inside, 
Cause if your big star bound let me warn you its a long hard ride. 

Well, he cried just south of Nashville, and he turned that car around.

he said: (spoken) this is where you get off, boy, 
cause I'm going back to Alabam'. 
I stepped out of that ole Cadillac and I said Mister, many thanks. 
he said you don't have to call me mister, Mister. 
The whole world calls me Hank. 

Repeat Chorus 
deadsongs.vue.229 : Down the Road
permalink #12 of 13: David Dodd (ddodd) Sat 2 Oct 04 10:02
Thanks, Neil!
deadsongs.vue.229 : Down the Road
permalink #13 of 13: Marked from the Day That I was Born (ssol) Sat 2 Oct 04 15:01

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