Life of a Song

Still highly distracted from main blogging subjects at the moment, and a month since I’ve blogged at all – my biggest hiatus ever ?

Well – as a result of obtaining a guitar and having a go at playing again; there I said it – I’ve been seeking out sheet music, tabs and lyrics to some of my favourite “standards”. (Not the cause of the hiatus, I hasten to add, but that’s another story.) Pretty recognisable version of “The Weight” so far. Well I’ve been looking up versions of “Morning Dew” – a song I’ve previously attributed to Tim Rose (also arranger of the – otherwise trad – Hey Joe version Hendrix made famous), after hearing London pub-rockers Scarecrow’s John Stewart cover version back in the 70’s. Since then I became more familiar with the Nazareth version (spooky after The Weight, no ?) and especially the Blackfoot version – which I still play regularly to this day. Most people will associate the song with the Grateful Dead, but there are many others, Lulu, Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart, Robert Plant to name a few, and even an excellent Devo version(!) The Blackfoot version has at least one verse I didn’t recognise from other versions, but we’re only talking of phoenetic recall here.

Searching for tabs and lyrics I couldn’t help noticing variation and even vagueness in the freely transcribed lyrics and in the chords too, more than just transposed keys. Well it turns out there are several versions / variations, and I’ve not yet found any formally published sheet music versions, other than lyrics of the Warner-Chappell Music “Tim Rose / Bonnie Dobson” version.

Turns out Canadian Bonnie Dobson originally wrote the song in 1961 and first performed it in ’62. Tim Rose gained 25% co-writing credits from publishing his version with an extra verse in 1966. And indeed Blackfoot did make it theirs with an extra verse as late as 1984. The first version I ever heard by Scarecrow, they referred to as a Tim Rose cover. My favourite version, until I heard the Devo version, probably remains Blackfoot.

And that’s just the half of it. Thanks to Brenda Stardom’s blog for a comprehensive review of the lyrics, and an amazingly comprehensive history of the song on Wikipedia.

I think this is the Dobson / Rose / Blackfoot version I’m going with


Walk me out in the morning dew (my) honey
Please walk me out in the morning dew
I can’t walk you out in the morning dew (now mama)
Can’t walk you out in the morning dew today


Thought I heard a young girl cry my baby,
Thought I heard a young girl cry (today)
You did not hear no young girl cryin’ (mama),
You did not hear no young girl cry today

But, I thought I saw a flash in the sky this mornin’
Thought that I saw a flash in the sky today
Well, the earth it trembled and the sky is no longer blue
And now there is no more morning dew (oh) today.


(Thought I heard a young man cry mama
Thought I heard a young man cry today
You didn’t hear no young man crying mama
You didn’t hear no young man cry today)

Now, there is no more morning dew
Now, there is no more morning dew today
What we’ve been saying all these years has come true
And, now, there is no more morning dew (oh) today


No more morning dew today
Won’t you please walk me out in the dew
The dew, morning dew, yeah, yeah

(Solo to fade … )

And I see even this version has verses or variant lines missing that appear in say the Dead version …

But what about the chords ?
(Not that they’re complicated, you understand. Can probably work it out.)

Anyway, still a favourite on several re-listens this evening. Post-apocalyptic it’s true, but very powerful and evocative, even though the Blackfoot verse (flash in the sky) makes the original fear much more explicit. Must give it a go.

2 thoughts on “Life of a Song”

  1. Pingback: the rose lyrics
  2. Pingback: Psybertron Asks

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.