The Countertop Chronicles

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Monday, August 16, 2004

Monday Song Lyric

Time for another Libertarian Song Lyric.

As I was driving home from breakfast at my favorite little greasy spoon restaurant, McLean Family Restaurant, on Saturday, I turned the radio onto NPR to see if Car Talk was on. Instead we tuned into the middle of an interview on Morning Edition between Scott Simon and Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead and Rat Dog.

Bob was talking about one of my all time favorite Grateful Dead songs, Cassidy. I had long thought Cassidy was written about Neal Cassady - aka Dean Moriarty It turns out, according to Weir, that the song was actually written while he lived on a farm in Wyoming while one of the women there was using his bed to give birth to a girl named Cassidy. Seems that David Crosby had taught him a new tuning on the guitar the day before and while everyone waited for Cassidy's birth, he started strumming along and wrote the music. Sadly, he didn't elaborate on when John Perry Barlow wrote the lyrics. Perhaps Mr. Barlow can comment.

I've always been a big Bob Weir fan, and previously covered the other stellar libertarian Barlow/Weir song Black Throated Wind when I wrote:
[M]ost fans did not even realize they were taking part in the greatest libertarian experiment ever. One look around the parking lot found people hawking the wares of whatever liberal interest group of the day was striking out. Often times, this involved the environmental prostitutes at Greenpeace and other such organizations I despise. However, for the most part, the band avoided these connections and preferred to let their “music do the talking.”

In doing so, when they weren’t noodling around in a drug induced fog, the music was a celebration of a time remembered, a style from before. As direct descendants of the Beat writers of San Francisco, they immediately picked up on a lot of the themes, specially of the joy of cross country travel, that Jack Kerouac wrote about and Neil Cassady (who was both the main character in one of the bands most popular songs, That’s It For The Other One and shares a name with another, Cassidy) inspired. With the exception of the psychedelic space trips, the Dead’s most memorable songs were all glorious celebrations of the road and travel, whether it is through the considerable number of railroad songs, cowboy jingles, or simply Truckin’ tunes, a Dead show promised to harken back to the time of Steinbeck and before. These songs all looked out at an expansive world, where anything was possible and life lived to the fullest evolved directly from nature. No government, just one person striking out on their own, with no support other than that they create.
Cassidy, as mentioned, clearly belongs to this school with its ultimate charge to the young girl to turn hardships into triumphs and wherever she goes, live her life on her own terms, by her own design. Truer words are rarely spoken.

I strongly recommend the version available on Reckoning.

Words by John Perry Barlow
Music by Bob Weir

I have seen where the wolf has slept by the silver stream.
I can tell by the mark he left you were in his dream.
Ah, child of countless trees.
Ah, child of boundless seas.
What you are, what you're meant to be
Speaks his name, though you were born to me,
Born to me,

Lost now on the country miles in his Cadillac.
I can tell by the way you smile he's rolling back.
Come wash the nighttime clean,
Come grow this scorched ground green,
Blow the horn, tap the tambourine
Close the gap of the dark years in between
You and me,

Quick beats in an icy heart.
catch-colt draws a coffin cart.
There he goes now, here she starts:
Hear her cry.
Flight of the seabirds, scattered like lost words
Wheel to the storm and fly.

Faring thee well now.
Let your life proceed by its own design.
Nothing to tell now.
Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine.


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