"Uncle John's Band" is a song by the Grateful Dead that first appeared in their concert setlists in late 1969. The band recorded it for their 1970 album Workingman's Dead. Written by guitarist Jerry Garcia and lyricist Robert Hunter, "Uncle John's Band" presents the Dead in an acoustic and musically concise mode, with close harmony singing.
The song, one of the band's most well-known, is one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. In 2001 it was named 321st (of 365) in the Songs of the Century project list.
"Uncle John's Band" has one of the Dead's most immediately accessible and memorable melodies, set against a bluegrass-inspired folk arrangement with acoustic guitars. The song's close harmony singing was inspired in part by Crosby, Stills and Nash. Both the music and the lyrics summon up the Dead's feel for Americana, with the song making allusions to both past - Irving Berlin's "Alexander's Ragtime Band" - and present - the fate of the American counterculture at the turn of the decade. In particular, at the end of the tumultuous sixties, when the hopes and dreams for an Age of Aquarius with its Summer of Love became undermined with the hard...