The Grateful Dead performed Me and My Uncle at nearly every performance. They were a great story telling band, either with their own songs, or someone else’s.
I remembered the first time I heard this song by the Dead, with that ominous threat delivered perfectly. “Accused him of cheating, oh, no, that can’t be! I know my uncle, he’s as honest as me. And I’m as honest as any man can be.”
You can find the Dead’s versions on YouTube anywhere. And if you know the song, you’ll find this solo performance by Joni Mitchell to be fascinating by contrast. A rough and tough Western song delivered by high female voice, the beautiful Joni Mitchell with a quirky guitar style that is mesmerizing to watch.
In the end, it’s all about gold. It always has been.
Me and My Uncle
Me and my uncle went ridin’ down,
South Colorado, West Texas bound.
We stopped over in Santa Fe,
That bein’ the point just about half way,
And you know it was the hottest part of the day.
I took the horses up to the stall,
Went to the barroom, ordered drinks for all.
Three days in the saddle, you know my body hurt,
It bein’ summer, I took off my shirt,
And I tried to wash off some of that dusty dirt.
West Texas cowboys, they’s all around,
With liquor and money, they’re loaded down.
So soon after payday, know it seemed a shame;
You know my uncle, he starts a friendly game,
High-low jack and the winner take the hand.
My uncle starts winnin’; cowboys got sore.
One of them called him, and then two more,
Accused him of cheatin’; Oh no, it couldn’t be.
I know my uncle, he’s as honest as me,
And I’m as honest as a Denver man can be.
One of them cowboys, he starts to draw,
And I shot him down, Lord he never saw.
Shot me another, oh damn he won’t grow old.
In the confusion, my uncle grabbed the gold,
And we high-tailed it down to Mexico.
I love those cowboys, I love their gold,
I loved my uncle, God rest his soul,
Taught me good, Lord, Taught me all I know
Taught me so well, I grabbed that gold
And I left his dead ass there by the side of the road.
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