Song by the Grateful Dead. Not surprisingly, it's also the name of a Dead cover band.

Uncle John's Band
Words by Robert Hunter

     Well, the first days are the hardest days,
     don't you worry anymore
     When life looks like Easy Street
     there is danger at your door
     Think this through with me
     Let me know your mind
     Wo-oah, what I want to know
     is are you kind?

     It's a Buck Dancer's Choice, my friend,
     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?
     Wo-oah, what I want to know,
     will you come with me?

     Goddamn, well I declare
     Have you seen the like?
     Their walls are built of cannonballs,
     their motto is Don't Tread on Me
     Come hear Uncle John's Band
     by the riverside
     Got some things to talk about
     here beside the rising tide

     It's the same story the crow told me
     It's the only one he know -
     like the morning sun you come
     and like the wind you go
     Ain't no time to hate,
     barely time to wait
     Wo-oah, 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
     Wo-oah what I want to know,
     how does the song go?

     Come hear Uncle John's Band
     by the riverside
     Come with me or go alone
     He's come to take his children home
     Come hear Uncle John's Band
     playing to the tide
     Come on along or go alone
     he's come to take his children home

The Indigo Girls contributed an absolutely stunning cover of this Grateful Dead original to Deadicated, a benefit album whose proceeds went in part to the Rainforest Action Network. Emily Saliers and Amy Ray's comments from the album's liner notes:

Recording a Grateful Dead song in the studio is such a wonderful experience because of the free-spiritedness of their music. We had a blast. It's made us bigger Grateful Dead fans than we ever were before. (Deadicated liner notes, Arista Records, 1991)

They altered the song's lyrics in only one place: substituting "Sister" for "God Damn" in the third verse. Jurph tells me that "the Indigo Girls' cover has 16 beats to a couplet, whereas the Grateful Dead original went with a more quirky 14. Since there are 7 accented syllables in each couplet, the 14 is more organic to the rhythm", but I honestly haven't noticed the difference.

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