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scar1et_f1re
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Meaning behind the song "he's gone"

#57737 3 years, 1 month ago
In the "you learn something new every day" department (for me anyway), from this weeks "tales from the golden road".

Robert Hunter generally does not say what his songs are about, but according to David Gans (or his co-host) Hunter specifically said that the song "He's Gone" was written about when Mickey's father Lenny Hart - the former manager for the dead -- stole a lot of money (I've heard it was $150,000) from the Grateful Dead. The band was struggling financially at the time so it was a serious blow.

I always thought it was about someone passing away (maybe Pigpen) - just based on the lyrics.

The additional lyrics from Hunter's manuscript (not sung...see below) are interesting.

Rat in a drain ditch, caught on a limb
You know better, but I know him

Like I told you, like I said
Steal your face right off your head

And now he's gone
Now he's gone, Lord he's gone
He's gone
Like a steam locomotive rolling down the track
He's gone, gone, and nothing's gonna bring him back
He's gone

Nine mile skid on a ten mile ride
Hot as a pistol but cool inside

Cat on a tin roof, dogs in a pile
Nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile

Going where the wind don't blow so strange
Maybe off on some high cold mountain range (note 1)
Lost one round but the price wasn't anything
A knife in the back and more of the same

Same old
Rat in a drain ditch, caught on a limb
You know better, but I know him

Like I told you, like I said
Steal your face right off your head

Ooh, nothing's gonna bring him back
Ooh, nothing's gonna bring him back
Ooh, nothing's gonna bring him back

(1) the Hunter lyrics are "... mountain range" but it certainly sounds as if the Dead sing "... mountain chain." For what it's worth, it's "chain" in the sheet music in the Grateful Dead Anthology Vol 1.

[size=5](2) Hunter's manuscript includes some verses that never made it into the final version:

So long baby, rip it up today
Write me a letter when you mend your ways

Hanging on a meat hook, coolin' my heels
Sign no papers and make no deals

Take me to the kickshop, hang me up for poor
Just try to see you don't shame me no more

[/size]
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.
Terrapin Sedation
Platinum Boarder
Posts:2676
Let your life proceed by its own design

Re: Meaning behind the song "he's gone"

#57742 3 years, 1 month ago
I've heard the inspiration is Lenny Hart, but this tune has a black plague undertone... if I've got my Albert Camus right.
Think fleas.


Cat on a tin roof, dogs in a pile
Nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile.

Rat in a drain ditch, caught on a limb,
You know better, but I know him

Bring out your dead!

wlewis
Platinum Boarder
Posts:6476

Re: Meaning behind the song "he's gone"

#57747 3 years, 1 month ago
it is about lenny hart, pretty sure phil mentions it in his book
who else is gonna bring you, a broken arrow?
Chester
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Re: Meaning behind the song "he's gone"

#57751 3 years, 1 month ago
wlewis wrote:
it is about lenny hart, pretty sure phil mentions it in his book


Oh yeah. That's definitely what the song is about. Phil does tell the story in his book. Great book by the way.
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.
Chester
Moderator
Posts:33975
More or less in line

Re: Meaning behind the song "he's gone"

#57753 3 years, 1 month ago
And, it's the main reason for Mickey leaving the group. (So glad he came back.)
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.
ScarlettStar
Fresh Boarder
Posts:12

Re: Meaning behind the song "he's gone"

#57788 3 years, 1 month ago
Knowing all that went down (I still haven't read Phil's book...I'm a bad Head! LOL). It makes perfect sense to be about Lenny Hart.

And yes, I'm VERY glad Mickey came back too.
In the strangest of places you get shown the light.
23atwell
Platinum Boarder
Posts:4913
I love what I love and I want it that way

Re: Meaning behind the song "he's gone"

#57844 3 years, 1 month ago
It's has been mentioned in a few books
And I'm going to sit right here until I die
scar1et_f1re
Platinum Boarder
Posts:4900
R U Kind?

Re: Meaning behind the song "he's gone"

#58148 3 years, 1 month ago
It must have been hard on Mickey ... especially when they played "He's gone". I read Mickey thought his father was a piece of crap (my paraphrasing). I also read the dead never gave Mickey crap about this, for which I am glad.

In typical fashion the GD channel played a show from 6/6/77 last night. I caught set II and you know it's good when during the introduction the announcer (from XM - actually dead archivist David LeMoux (sp?) instructs you to light up cause this is going to be a killer show. And it was.

And of course, it had "He's Gone".

I am amazed, I really used to think this was a sad song, not a FU song.

To re-quote from a prior poster...."Goes to show you don't ever know".
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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