Mountain Town

Lyrics: Brian Lesh, David Crosby
Music: Brian Lesh, David Crosby

Brian Lesh gave this account of the origins of this song. He sang it with Phil Lesh & Friends in 2012.

Campfire to campfire or porch to porch, many folk songs have been passed down orally from older generations to younger ones. As they get passed down, the songs change with each new performer, and ownership of that song dissolves from a singular into a collective.

‘The Mountain Song’, as played by Furthur, is a great example of this tradition. It began, as far as I know, on the outtakes of David Crosby’s If I Could Only Remember My Name, which featured a song called ‘Mountain Jam’*. It was a simple, repetitive song stretching eight or nine minutes, with only one repeated lyric (‘Gonna make the mountains be my home…’). Even so, the progression, melody and the passion of the musicians on the album made the song so hauntingly beautiful that it stuck with me from the first time that I heard it.

I play in a band called Blue Light River, a group for which I write the songs. My good friend and bass player, Scott Harvey, one day suggested that I find an old Dylan bootleg and write another ‘Wagon Wheel’. (For those that don’t know, Old Crow Medicine Show’s massively popular ‘Wagon Wheel’ is only half written by them: the chorus is actually a Bob Dylan song called ‘Rock Me Mama’ that can be found on the Genuine Bootleg Series Vol. 1, Disc 2). The idea stewed in my brain for a couple of weeks, until one day ‘Mountain Jam’ came up on shuffle on my iPod. I immediately set to work, and soon the Blue Light River song ‘Mountain Town’ was born. Using David Crosby’s refrain as a chorus I wrote three verses and just like that, another incarnation of the song was born. It was a song that strongly represented the folk tradition; it used the original music to create something new that simultaneously respects and builds on that original.

It was that same tradition that created the song that Furthur plays, The Mountain Song. After hearing Blue Light River’s song, my mom, Jill, did some research and found lyrics written by Robert Hunter that were meant to be added to David’s original composition. Seeing the potential, she brought them to my dad, Phil, and me, and together we came up with a third incarnation of the song. Using David’s chorus, my arrangement and music for the verses and Hunter’s lyrics, we built a new song that pays homage to and builds upon my song, which in turn was built upon the original.
The lyrics for the Blue Light Rain version are:
It's a lonely night in the town of princes
And it's a lonely night in the city of kings
'Cause all these kings and all these princes
Ain't got no one to talk to
And their diamond rings

Chorus
Gonna make the mountains be my home
('Cause the sky above me is gold)
Gonna make the mountains be my home
(Blue sky above me)
Gonna make the mountains be my home
('Cause the sky above me is gold)
Gonna make the mountains be my home

It's a lonely night, here in this city
'Cause no one seems to be around
And all those people
With silver bracelets control
All the whiskey in this towm

[chorus]

Those people who don't understand me
There's nothing to understand
'Cause I found me my whiskey
So go away, I'll put it in the dam

[chorus]


 


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