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scar1et_f1re
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Meaning of Roll Away the Dew / Franklins Tower?

#54006 3 years, 1 month ago
I do not know what it means, but I know the guy who said it was roll away the doobe was a bit off. I like one gals answer, keep on truckin....no matter what chit comes your way. Maybe a question for David Gans? By the way, according to the GD channel, tomorrow is the anniversary of Blues for Allah (the album). Happy anniversary to you....

PS - I'm going to check Hunters book - Box of Rain tonight to see if he has any commentary in there.



"Franklin's Tower"
Words by Robert Hunter; music by Jerry Garcia
Copyright Ice Nine Publishing; used by permission


In another time's forgotten space
your eyes looked through your mother's face
Wildflower seed on the sand and stone
may the four winds blow you safely home

Roll away ... the dew
Roll away... the dew
Roll away... the dew
Roll away... the dew

You ask me where the four winds dwell
In Franklin's tower there hangs a bell
It can ring, turn night to day
Ring like fire when you lose your way

Roll away... the dew . . .

God help the child who rings that bell
It may have one good ring left, you can't tell
One watch by night, one watch by day
If you get confused just listen to the music play

Roll away... the dew . . .

Some come to laugh their past away
Some come to make it just one more day
Whichever way your pleasure tends
if you plant ice you're gonna harvest wind

Roll away... the dew . . .

In Franklin's Tower the four winds sleep
Like four lean hounds the lighthouse keep
Wildflower seed in the sand and wind
May the four winds blow you home again

Roll away... the dew
Roll away... the dew
Roll away... the dew
Roll away... the dew
You better roll away the dew
FFF! Family is Forever!!!

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
Last Edit: 3 years, 1 month ago by scar1et_f1re.
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Chester
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Posts:33868
More or less in line

Re: Meaning of Roll Away the Dew / Franklins Tower?

#54012 3 years, 1 month ago
Quoted from Robert Hunter;

[Now to the real stretch: "Roll away the dew."
The line is appropriated from a fairly
well known sea chantey whose chorus goes:
"Roll away the morning dew
and sweet the winds shall blow."
As surely everyone knows by now,
Bonnie Dobson's song "Morning Dew"
(made famous by Garcia's singing of it)
is set in the aftermath of nuclear war.
Reason he can't "walk you out
in the morning dew, my honey"
is because of fallout, though Garcia
has wisely dropped the verse
containing this denouement, allowing
the song a heightened romantic mystery,
achieved through open-ended ambiguity.
For generations now alive,
the nuclear specter personifies
the forces which most threaten our
attempt at Jeffersonian democracy.
With the song's sub-allusion to
"Roll away the Stone," an anthem
of joyous Eastertide resurrection,
a resultant combination message
of dire necessity (as in the final:
you've got to roll away the dew)
and promise of renewal, in case
resolution is effected, are enjoined.
Should this hyper-allusive train
of thought become too confusing
to process, the invitation to just
"listen to the music play"
acknowledges both the melody
and performance context of the lyric
and the metaphoric bell described above.]

Well, now that you know what I meant by it,
it's no great shakes is it? Mystery gone,
the magician's trick told, the gluttony
for "meaning" temporarily satisfied,
one can now take issue with my intent
and avoid the song itself, substituting
the assignable significance for the music.


More info here. artsites.ucsc.edu/GDead/agdl/fauthrep.html

.
I can't come down, it's plain to see.
I can't come down, I've been set free.
Who you are, and what you do,
don't make no difference to me.
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83msg1sttyme
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Posts:5732

Re: Meaning of Roll Away the Dew / Franklins Tower?

#54030 3 years, 1 month ago
i always took it to mean your waking up in the morning covered in the morning dew and you roll out of bed and get on your way. if youve ever done any camping in the mountains youll totally undesrtand the dew
If i told ya all that went down,it would burn off both your ears
Last Edit: 3 years, 1 month ago by 83msg1sttyme.
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funky420
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Posts:3279
If you stumble, make it part of the dance.

Re: Meaning of Roll Away the Dew / Franklins Tower?

#54041 3 years, 1 month ago
Chester wrote:
Quoted from Robert Hunter;

[Now to the real stretch: "Roll away the dew."
The line is appropriated from a fairly
well known sea chantey whose chorus goes:
"Roll away the morning dew
and sweet the winds shall blow."
As surely everyone knows by now,
Bonnie Dobson's song "Morning Dew"
(made famous by Garcia's singing of it)
is set in the aftermath of nuclear war.
Reason he can't "walk you out
in the morning dew, my honey"
is because of fallout, though Garcia
has wisely dropped the verse
containing this denouement, allowing
the song a heightened romantic mystery,
achieved through open-ended ambiguity.
For generations now alive,
the nuclear specter personifies
the forces which most threaten our
attempt at Jeffersonian democracy.
With the song's sub-allusion to
"Roll away the Stone," an anthem
of joyous Eastertide resurrection,
a resultant combination message
of dire necessity (as in the final:
you've got to roll away the dew)
and promise of renewal, in case
resolution is effected, are enjoined.
Should this hyper-allusive train
of thought become too confusing
to process, the invitation to just
"listen to the music play"
acknowledges both the melody
and performance context of the lyric
and the metaphoric bell described above.]

Well, now that you know what I meant by it,
it's no great shakes is it? Mystery gone,
the magician's trick told, the gluttony
for "meaning" temporarily satisfied,
one can now take issue with my intent
and avoid the song itself, substituting
the assignable significance for the music.


More info here. artsites.ucsc.edu/GDead/agdl/fauthrep.html

.

This was right above the previous explanation.

How does semiotics mean?
Since the concluding remark of your essay stated that the Grateful Dead songs are "meaningless" I choose to reply by explicating one of your examples: "Franklin's Tower." I do this reluctantly because I feel that a straightforward statement of my original intent robs the listener of personal associations and replaces them with my own. I may know where they come from, but I don't know where they've been. My allusions are, admittedly, often not immediately accessible to those whose literary resources are broadly different than my own, but I wouldn't want my listeners' trust to be shaken by an acceptance of the category "meaningless" attached to a bundle of justified signifiers whose sources happen to escape the scope of simplistic reference.

This was said by Hunter and what I gather from it is that a song means what you want it to mean, regardless of what the meaning was to the original author.
The voices tell me what to say
Last Edit: 3 years, 1 month ago by funky420.
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iraqistatefair
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Posts:1986
The wheels are muddy, got a ton of hay

Re: Meaning of Roll Away the Dew / Franklins Tower?

#54074 3 years, 1 month ago
It means pure bliss for aLL.
iamthedoor
Platinum Boarder
Posts:1357

Re: Meaning of Roll Away the Dew / Franklins Tower?

#54075 3 years, 1 month ago
I always saw it kinda like 83msg where the morning dew rolls off the leaves and grass, insinuating a new day is upon you
Warrior for Peace and The Positive Movement!
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strangerinboulder
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Posts:1636

Re: Meaning of Roll Away the Dew / Franklins Tower?

#54281 3 years, 1 month ago
Maybe it's about Nixon. He resigned in '74. This came out in '75. If anbody needed to roll away the dew it was tricky Dick. Other than an athlete, I have never seen anbody that beaded up more than him.
scar1et_f1re
Platinum Boarder
Posts:4900
R U Kind?

Re: Meaning of Roll Away the Dew / Franklins Tower?

#55862 3 years, 1 month ago
I always envision a tall mid-evil castle brick castle, something like the Dark Tower in a Stephen King novel, with a big bell inside. I never understood roll away the dew, but it does remind me of the Morning dew, perhaps outside the brick castle?

Not sure it's right, just what I "see"
FFF! Family is Forever!!!

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
scar1et_f1re
Platinum Boarder
Posts:4900
R U Kind?

Re: Meaning of Roll Away the Dew / Franklins Tower?

#124981 2 years, 7 months ago
On a recent shakedown stream, JerBear (sp?) gave this explanation which makes a lot of sense to me. The bell is the famous bell in Philadelphia - the cracked liberty bell.

To make the bell they used to heat the metal and pour it into molds. When the metal cooled, it would sweat beads of water, and the workers had to roll away the dew.

--

Below is a much longer, more detailed explanation. It includes explanations of many of the other phrases and Ben Franklins role in all of this.

--

"...pushing the limits of 18th century technology...
Roll Away the Dew: an Exegesis of Robert Hunter's "Franklin's Tower"

By Andrew Shalit. (email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) Reproduced for the Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics by permission of the author, who retains all rights. Copyright notice. As you probably know, Robert Hunter has a great of love of American History. The song is about events during the American revolution. 'Franklin' refers to Benjamin Franklin. The 'Bell' in the tower is the Liberty Bell.

Casting large metal objects is a complicated process. Casting bells is additonally complicated by the fact that bells must be able to withstand the stress of ringing, and they must produce a good tone. The Liberty Bell was not only very large, but it needed to ring loudly and clearly enough to be heard around the world. This was pushing the limits of 18th century technology.

As you probably know, Benjamin Franklin was not only a philosopher and statesman, he was an inventor. He was involved in the design of the Liberty Bell in the following way:

Franklin postulated that a process which he called "dewing" could be used to improve the production process of large bells. Dewing basically involves exposing the freshly cast bell to large quantities of steam while the bell is still hot. The steam causes a rapid cooling, producing droplet of 'dew' on the bell. After the dew is formed, the bell is rolled between large cotton sheets. He described this process as "rolling away the dew".

Unfortunately, Franklin's contempories had a very hard time understanding his technology. He showed them sample bells, asking him to simply look at the results without trying to understand the process. This was when he uttered the now famous quote, "if you get confused, listen to the music play."

In the end, Franklin couldn't convince the foundry to use his dewing process. Instead they used an alternate process developed by a Frenchman named Simon Legree (who eventually turned out to be a British agent). Simon's process involved planting small ice crystals (seeds) into the metal while the bell was being cast.

As we all know, the Liberty Bell didn't last very long. I believe it had one good ring, but you can't really tell because it was so long ago.

Apparently the one time it was rung was during a storm. After ringing, the famous crack developed in the side of the bell and the wind blew through the crack. They tried ringing the bell again, but the only sound was of the wind blowing through the crack.

Benjamin Franklin was understandably disgusted. When asked later about the incident, his only comment was "They planted ice, so they harvested wind." The ice refers to an alternate dewing process they used at the suggestion of a rival inventor (I'll spare you the details, but he turned out to be quite a Tory). The wind, of course, is the lack of sound from subseqent ringings.

A second meaning (Hunter's always the punster) relates to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The musical structure of Franklin's Tower is similar to that of "Deal." Hunter was suprised that Jerry would write two such similar songs, and so he considered "Franklin's Tower" a "New Deal".

It's really remarkable, the breadth of our culture that Hunter manages to work into his lyrics.

By the way, Franklin's Tower (the real one, not the song) has since been converted to a bridge. If anyone's interested in buying it, let me know.
On July 17, I received this message from Andrew Shalit:

From: Andrew LM Shalit
Cc: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Subject: Re: Franklin's Tower Facts

>Dear Andrew:

[Actual text deleted at request of sender: query had to do with Shalit's sources--dd]

Most of my research was conducted with the assistance of the Silent Tristero, historical division. A number of descendents of Benjamin Franklin gave me information, but only on the grounds that I keep their names confidential, as well as the specifics of the information they gave me. They are, understandably, concerned for their safety given the sensitivity of the subject.

The James Madison historical society provided some very useful background papers, but I'm afraid those were destroyed in a fire of suspicious origin about two years. His whole house was burned to the ground. Sad.

One cautionary note. Stay away from the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution). They take this issue very seriously, believing that the original Liberty Bell was actually a Liberty Belle, a young woman known to many of the founding fathers --- they claim that she had a substantial role in the drafting many of the early documents, going so far as to give her a hand in the declaration of independence and consitution! I don't think it would be exagerating to say that your life could be in danger if you push this issue with them.

As for Hunter's connection to this whole web, and why he felt compelled to try to get some of this material out in the light of day, albeit in his particularly elliptical fashion... Well, you'll have to ask him directly. I enjoy my backstage passes too much to put them in jeopardy at this time !

Good luck with your research. And do be careful.

-Andrew

At 12:00 PM 9/13/95, William Ward wrote:
I read your web article reference Franklin's Tower and casting of the Liberty Bell with great interest, for reasons unrelated to my appreciation for the Grateful Dead and all the music of their era (my son is bassist in, would you believe, a heavy metal band, Pink Cream 69, out of Karlsruhe, Germany). I take the opportunity to share the following with you, in hopes you might guide me to sources (other than the DAR) which might help me in my quest:

From the Family Book of PASS, by Sybill Pass Holland:

"It seems appropriate to mention here that the Liberty Bell has the name of one John Pass inscribed on it. Whether he was our ancestor remains to be proved. In 1751 the Pennsylvania Assembly decided to install a bell in the steeple of Philadelphia's State House, now known as Independence Hall. The first stroke of the bell created a crack which affected the sound. While they were waiting for a new bell from England, the colonists grew impatient, so two foundrymen volunteered to recast the cracked bell. These two men were John Stow and John Pass. Their first attempt failed, but they were successful the second time they tried. The bell was hung in June of 1753, and the crack that is in it today did not appear until the first half of the 19th century. Both men's names can be seen on the Liberty Bell."

Mrs. Pass, my second cousin, once removed, cites her source for the above as "Pennsylvania 1776", Robert Secor, General Editor, The Pennsylvania State University Press, page 339.

Our first known PASS ancestor in America was John J. Pass who was born over 200 years ago in Virginia; the names of his parents are unknown to us, but his children included: William Huel PASS, Frances PASS, Henrietta D. PASS and John PASS. John J. Pass may have been a son, nephew, sibling of the John PASS who was one of the foundrymen who recast the bell.

Should you be able to shed any light on this, it would delight me and the entire PASS family interested in our roots. In any case, perhaps it will give you a bit of pleasure to know of our interest, and how far reaching music is.

Bill Ward, g-g-g-grandson of John Pass

Date: Wed, 13 Sep 1995 20:15:43 -0400
From: Andrew LM Shalit
To: William Ward
Subject: Re: Franklin's Tower Facts

Bill -

Thank you very much for this information. It solves a couple more pieces of the puzzle for me.

An early draft of "Franklin's Tower" (actually just some chicken scratch on the back of an electric bill, don't ask how I came by it) contains slightly different lyrics from the version with which we are all so familiar.

The original lyric of the middle verse was "if you pass ice, you're gonna harvest wind". And the original refrain was "stow away the dew".

I can only surmise from this that your ancestor John Pass and his partner John Stow were the casters who were in disagreement with Ben Franklin. Here the lyrics refer to Pass suggesting the use of ice rather than Dew Rolling, and Stow advocating that the whole idea of 'Dewing the Bell' be 'stowed'! God, Hunter's creativity never ceases to amaze me!

I can only guess that he didn't go with the original lyric because he didn't think people would get it. (And indeed, even I didn't get it until you provided these additional clues.) He must have decided to go with something more obvious.

As you've probably guessed by now, I don't have any additional information for you, but I'm very glad to have the information _you've_ provided to me. Thank you!

-Andrew

p.s. I've CC'd David Dodd in case he thinks this minor exchange is worthy of inclusion in his web site.

[Note from the editor: Oh, most definitely worthy!]
Update: January 18, 1996!
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 1996 13:39:38 -0500
From: Andrew LM Shalit ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )
To: Derrick Hussey ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )
Cc: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Subject: Re: Franklin's Tower question

At 8:52 PM 1/17/96, Derrick Hussey wrote:


> Hello there,


>


> I was reading your excellent essay on this song and I have a question:


> how did Legree sow the ice crystals into the molten metal? I would


> think they would melt extremely fast. Any information you can provide


> would be great. Thanks in advance,


>


> Derrick



Derrick -

Your question is very timely. I had wondered this myself for a long time. A recent conversation with a fellow Dead Head who is studying materials science at MIT enlightened me, and showed yet again the truly amazing depth and intricacy of Hunter's lyrics.

By way of background, I met this Dead Head on the bus. Her name is Inonu Ryder, and she studies train tracks. Apparently casting those big strips of metal so they are as unwarped as possible is quite a complicated task. In our daily commute to Kendall Square we got to talking, and I learned something more about casting. I now believe I know more about the alternative ice-dewing process that Legree proposed.

As you may know, snow forms different crystals when it is frozen at different temperatures. Snow formed at a relatively high temperature takes the shape of rods and produces a denser snow. Snow formed at a relatively lower temperature produces a more complicated, less dense crystal and snow. The crystals formed at these lower temperatures, actually, resemble the seeds of dandelion flowers. Because they are so fluffy, they carry well when blown by the wind. Because they are so cold, they do not melt quite as quickly. It turns out that in this process, even a fraction of a second of additional crystalline time can make a big difference.

However, even these colder, more buoyant crystals do not have the integrity to survive the temperatures as they approach the heated metal of a bell that has just been cast. To further protect the ice crystals, they are mixed in a slurry of silica, a sort of very fine sand. (You'll recall that it's a silica/ceramic compound that is used to make the heat-resistant tiles on the space shuttle.) The silica and ice crystals bond together in the slurry, the ice provides lift/buoyancy, and the silica absorbs heat as the metal is approached. When the slurry actually hits the bell, the ice creates an impact and finally melts, accomplishing the alternative dewing, and the silica has a fortuitous sandblasting effect, generating a pleasant patina on the surface of the bell.

Finally, Inonu impressed upon me that for this technique to be effective, the entire surface of the bell would need to hit with the slurry simultaneously, creating a uniform cooling effect. Otherwise the bell would shatter from the heat shock.

Once I had this information, I looked over the lyrics of the song again and was amazed: the information is all there, for those who have eyes to see. It just blows me away:


Wildflower seeds (cold-frozen ice crystals)


in the sand and stone (mixed in a silica slurry)


May the four winds (need to blow the slurry at the bell


blow you safely home from all directions, hitting the target


safely, simultaneously, and evenly.)




Inonu could give me the details of the process because it was perfected and used to great effect in the middle of the nineteenth century. It became standard practice for all large-bell manufacturing. So Legree wasn't actually mistaken about the best way to make a bell, he was just ahead of his time. In the late eighteenth century the technology didn't exist to produce the ice crystals at precisely the right temperature, to produce a fine enough silica powder, or to evenly blend and distribute the slurry.

However, Legree's contribution did not go unrecognized. The bells that were eventually produced using the process that he pioneered are called 'Legregian Bells' and hang in churches producing beautiful tones to this day. There's even a new album coming out, of Gregorian chanting accompanied by campaniles (church bells) entitle "Legregious Gregorious". I think it should be in stores by May.

I hope you find this information useful. I'd been meaning to write it up for the GD Lyrics Web Site, but hadn't gotten around to it yet. So thanks for the prod!

-Andrew


--


Andrew Shalit This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


-Thinking Allowed-




[Editor's note: Yet another masterpiece of explication!]
FFF! Family is Forever!!!

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
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marymontana
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Re: Meaning of Roll Away the Dew / Franklins Tower?

#125007 2 years, 7 months ago
I know artists of both word and image who say that when they're channeling the muse they go with it and often don't have an explanation for what they've created. It may mean something to them and it may not.

Works of pure genius, the purity implying a flawless channel, will mean different things to different people, even different things to the same person at different periods in their life. The wonder of it all is that these different meanings may be each as informative as the other and instrumental in enlightening the person who encounters it.

To me, roll away the dew means what it does to several of the people above: the morning is here, use your light to shine away the night's dew. A bell is used to signal an important event; God save the child who speaks the truth and brings about the dawn of enlightenment.

"Wildflower seed on the sand and wind" is similar to the Biblical verse of the sower of seeds, some of the seeds falling on fertile ground and others on rock. We are the wildflower seed; may the four winds blow us on to fertile ground where truth can bloom and we may find our way home again.

And on it goes. I find spiritual beauty in most of the Hunter/Garcia tunes. Not just the lyrics, but in the combination of music and verse. The joy I feel when hearing these tunes and the ecstasy I reach when I dance to them convince me that they are works of genius. They turn night to day and ring like fire when we lose our way.
Gone are the broken eyes we saw through in dreams
Gone - both dream and lie
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