Monday, November 22, 2010

Other People’s Songs/ Kin: Me and My Uncle

Judy Collins: Me and My Uncle


An entire day went by with our new theme, and no one posted. I wanted to, but I was waiting to see if anyone had a transition song for us. That’s where a song fits both our old theme and our new one. I was drawing blanks. Well, life goes on. After a full day, I decided to get things started with one of my favorite Grateful Dead songs, Me and My Uncle. Just for the heck of it, I decided to make sure that I knew who wrote it. I got quite a surprise, and a great story, which comes from the Grateful Dead Lyric & Song Finder. It turns out that Me and My Uncle was written, kind of by accident, by John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas. How do you write a song by accident? Here’s the story:

John often used to tell the story behind "Me and My Uncle." Years ago he began receiving publishing royalties from a song on a Judy Collins record with which he was unfamiliar. It was titled "Me and My Uncle". He called Judy to let her know of the mistake because he hadn't written any such song. She laughed and told him that about a year before, in Arizona after one of her concerts, they had a 'Tequila Night' back at the hotel with Stephen Stills, Neil Young and a few others. They were running a blank cassette and John proceeded to write "Me and My Uncle" on the spot. The next day, John woke up to the tequila sunrise with no recollection of the songwriting incident. Judy kept the cassette from that evening and then, without informing John, recorded the song for her own record. Over the years the song was recorded by several people, and eventually became a standard of the Grateful Dead. John used to joke that, little by little, with each royalty check, the memory of writing the song would come back to him.

And that’s also why I wound up with Judy Collins, and not the Grateful Dead.

blog comments powered by Disqus