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Origins: The Dead's 'Jack Straw' as murder ballad

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GUEST,Pat Blackman 18 Mar 12 - 12:37 PM
GUEST 18 Mar 12 - 05:14 PM
michaelr 18 Mar 12 - 05:37 PM
GUEST,Pat Blackman 18 Mar 12 - 09:04 PM
pdq 18 Mar 12 - 09:37 PM
michaelr 18 Mar 12 - 09:57 PM
michaelr 18 Mar 12 - 10:08 PM
GUEST,Pat Blackman 18 Mar 12 - 11:42 PM
GUEST,John Hertford 21 Mar 12 - 10:05 AM
pdq 24 Mar 12 - 05:37 PM
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Subject: Origins: The Dead's 'Jack Straw' as murder ballad
From: GUEST,Pat Blackman
Date: 18 Mar 12 - 12:37 PM

This week's Murder Ballad Monday post explores "Jack Straw" and its inspiration, from Steinbeck to Altamont.

Introduction - Jack Straw

Connections to _Of Mice and Men_ - There ain't a winner in this game...

Connections to Altamont killing - Cut down a man in cold blood...   (Also looks at "New Speedway Boogie" and "Mason's Children")


Hope you enjoy!


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Dead's 'Jack Straw' as murder ballad
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Mar 12 - 05:14 PM

Murder Ballad Monday's Facebook Page


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Dead's 'Jack Straw' as murder ballad
From: michaelr
Date: 18 Mar 12 - 05:37 PM

Great stuff, Pat! Thanks for the link.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Dead's 'Jack Straw' as murder ballad
From: GUEST,Pat Blackman
Date: 18 Mar 12 - 09:04 PM

Thanks Michael!


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Dead's 'Jack Straw' as murder ballad
From: pdq
Date: 18 Mar 12 - 09:37 PM

I was not familiar with Mason's Children so I checked the Dead reference sources.

It was played live just 15 times and dropped in early 1970.

Odd, but the remastered version of Workingman's Dead is not just done in HDCD but has a huge amount of new material including a live version of Mason's Children.

Didn't have to think too long about this one. I went straight to eBay and ordered a copy.

I can do a "mini review" in a week or so after the CD arrives.

Nice to see anything on Mudcat about the Dead, America's greatest rock group, especially since they are essentially Folk.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Dead's 'Jack Straw' as murder ballad
From: michaelr
Date: 18 Mar 12 - 09:57 PM

pdq, I haven't found much to agree with you on in the political discussions here on Mudcat, but I concur wholeheartedly with your take on the Grateful Dead. They are indeed essentially Folk where their musical background is concerned. They were also essentially, in cohort with their audiences, conducting pagan/dionysian ecstasy rituals in their concerts, the like of which has not been seen since.

As drummer Mickey Hart said: "The Grateful Dead are not in the music business. We are in the transportation business."


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Subject: Lyr Add: JACK STRAW (Weir/Hunter)
From: michaelr
Date: 18 Mar 12 - 10:08 PM

Of great interest is "The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics" by David Dodd.

Jack Straw
Words by Robert Hunter; music by Bob Weir
Copyright Ice Nine Publishing

We can share the women
We can share the wine
We can share what we got of yours
'Cause we done shared all of mine

Keep a rolling
Just a mile to go
Keep on rolling, my old buddy
You're moving much too slow

I just jumped the watchman
Right outside the fence
Took his ring, four bucks in change
Now ain't that heaven sent?

Hurts my ears to listen, Shannon
Burns my eyes to see
Cut down a man in cold blood, Shannon
Might as well be me

We used to play for silver
Now we play for life
One's for sport and one's for blood
At the point of a knife

Now the die is shaken
Now the die must fall
There ain't a winner in this game
Who don't go home with all
Not with all...

Leaving Texas
Fourth day of July
Sun so hot, clouds so low
The eagles filled the sky

Catch the Detroit Lightning
Out of Santa Fe
Great Northern out of Cheyenne
From sea to shining sea

Gotta get to Tulsa
First train we can ride
Got to settle one old score
And one small point of pride...

Ain't no place a man can hide, Shannon
Keep him from the sun
Ain't no bed will give us rest, man,
You keep us on the run

Jack Straw from Wichita
Cut his buddy down
Dug for him a shallow grave
And layed his body down

Half a mile from Tucson
By the morning light
One man gone and another to go
My old buddy you're moving much too slow

We can share the women
we can share the wine...


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Dead's 'Jack Straw' as murder ballad
From: GUEST,Pat Blackman
Date: 18 Mar 12 - 11:42 PM

@pdq check out the links to the Murder Ballad Monday discussions at the top of the thread if you take a notion - I make comment on the short number of times Mason's gets played, and New Speedway didn't last that long either (though reborn in '91, and now the post Dead lineups play Mason's sometimes.) I think, in a way, Jack Straw 'replaced' both of them, by digging at the themes in them much deeper and more universally. Mason's and Speedway deal with Altamont, but Jack Straw encompasses Altamont and much much more (or so I think, for what it's worth.)


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Dead's 'Jack Straw' as murder ballad
From: GUEST,John Hertford
Date: 21 Mar 12 - 10:05 AM

Some really interesting discussion / analysis of this song which has long been a favourite of mine. The betrayal motif has lots in common with "Me and My Uncle". Although it's a John Phillips composition the Dead made it their own.


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Subject: Lyr Add: MASON'S CHILDREN (from Grateful Dead)
From: pdq
Date: 24 Mar 12 - 05:37 PM

MASON'S CHILDREN

Words by Robert Hunter; music by Jerry Garcia
Copyright Ice Nine Publishing

    Mason died on Monday
    We bricked him in the wall
    All his children grew and grew
    They never grew so tall before
    They may never grow so tall again

    We dug him up on Tuesday
    He'd hardly aged a day
    Taught us all we ever knew
    We never knew so much before
    We may never know so much again

    Mason was a mighty man
    A mighty man was he
    All he said: when I'm dead and gone
    don't you weep for me

    The wall collapsed on Wednesday
    We chalked it up to fate
    All his children ran and hid
    We never hid so well before
    Swore we'd never show our face again

    Thursday came and Friday
    with fires tall and bright
    Mason's children cooked the stew
    and cleaned up when the feast was through
    Swore we'd never had such times before

    Take me to the Reaper Man
    to pay back what was loaned
    If he's in some other land
    write it off as stoned

    Mason was a mighty man
    A mighty man was he
    All he said: when I'm dead and gone
    don't you weep for me


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