The Grateful Dead’s iconic singer and guitarist, Bob Weir is one of those musicians who has never been flashy or attention-seeking, never interested in the spotlight and far more concerned with the very essence of the art. He hasn’t ever found himself plastered across tabloid front pages or even got himself into too much trouble. Bob Weir has just quietly gone about his business, creating one of the most densely rich live back catalogues of all time, and he does it all with a smile on his face and a wistful look in his eye.
With such a vast inventory to get through, it’s incredible to think that Weir would be able to select a favourite Grateful Dead song and, bar a few flippant comments, he never really entertained a conversation around the topic. He did, however, once pick The Grateful Dead song he wants to be played at his funeral, and we think it could well be classed as his favourite track of the band’s rich tapestry.
As part of ‘The Big Interview’ with equally legendary journalist and broadcaster, Dan Rather, Weir, the guitarist of the counter-culture kings, not only shared the song he would play at his funeral but also about meeting Jerry Garcia for the first time and his biggest musical influences on both him and the band.
On Garcia’s particular brand of expectation for Weir, the guitarist revealed: “He knew about what I was good for and just was happy with that. He knew how to get stuff out of me. He very, very rarely had me play anything specific. He kept me to my own devices, and I tried to delight him as best I could.” However, one question provoked perhaps the most passionate response, the idea of Weir’s legacy.
When asked what he would like to be remembered for when he “crosses the river” and goes on to the other side, Weir, ever the creator and musician, simply replies: “Individually, for people who want to remember me, to remember on the moment for a song that relates to that moment for them, because that’s all I’m here for.”
When he was pushed on what song Weir might like to be played at his funeral or memorial service, Weir replied by reciting: “I have seen where the wolf has slept by the silver stream. I can tell by the mark he left you were in his dream.”
Weir continues reciting the John Perry Barlow-penned opening lyrics of ‘Cassidy’, adding: “Ah, child of countless trees. Ah, child of boundless seas. What you are, what you’re meant to be. Speaks his name, though you were born to me. Cassidy.”
The song actually concerns two real-life Cassidys, firstly, Neal Cassady, a beat poet and heroic writer forever connected with the band. The other was the daughter of Rex Jackson, former Grateful Dead crew member and Eileen Law, the gorup’s office manager. Born out of real people, the song is pertinent and potent.
It’s one of the band’s finest moments and should rightly be considered a contender for Weir’s favourite.
Listen below to The Grateful Dead song Bob Weird would play at his funeral, ‘Cassidy.’