Thread: A Reference to Duane?

playallnite - 12/26/2010 at 06:28 PM

The lryics to the Grateful Dead song" He's Gone" contain the lines:

Nine mile skid on a ten mile ride
Hot as a pistol but cool inside

Someone mentioned to me a long time ago the song was about Duane, the Hunter/Garcia tune was written early 70's the time Duane and Pigpen died. Anyone heard this spin before?

PeachNutt - 12/26/2010 at 08:39 PM

very familiar with song & the line (fav line in the song) but I very highly doubt it has anything to do with Duane or even Pig for that matter.....but I ain't Hunter or Garcia for that matter......

dzobo - 12/27/2010 at 02:43 AM

Almost certain the reference is to Neal Cassady who drove the Merry Prankster bus of Ken Kesey fame and who had died in Mexico on 2-4-68 of exposure while counting railway ties. Neal was also the model for the character Dean Moriarity in Jack Kerouac's beatnik epic "On the Road". There's a direct reference to Neal in the Grateful Dead's "That's It for the Other One" ("there was cowboy Neal at the wheel of the bus to never ever land").

Skydoggone - 12/27/2010 at 08:11 PM

"He's Gone," as originally written, referred to the disappearance of Mickey Hart's father, Lenny Hart, who was acting as the band's manager, with a good deal of money. (See interview in Relix, vol. 5, #2, p. 24.) Since then, the song has become riddled with meaning, played often quite tenderly when someone close to the band dies.

dzobo - 12/28/2010 at 05:46 AM

After posting my initial response I also did an internet search and as mentioned, found that this apparently was written about Lenny Hart. The parts of the song that always got me thinking about Neal Cassady were "nine mile skid on a ten mile ride, hot as pistol but cool inside" and "like I told you what I said, steal your face right off your head". For me these references seem related to Neal's driving the Pranksters' bus and also his ability to seemingly hold multiple high speed conversations that would disrupt the mindset (steal their face) of the other participants. Just one man's view. It is art after all.

[Edited on 12/28/2010 by dzobo]

dzobo - 12/30/2010 at 02:49 AM

Investigating a bit further Lenny Hart died in February, 1975. The song was written several years prior. It has such finality in the lyrics ("he's gone, nothing's gonna bring him back") that I always interpreted this as a death. If so it can't be about Lenny Hart. Now if it's a reading of how con-man Lenny ran off with the band's money and there is nothing that the band can do about it, then the possibility is open. Just that I always sensed that this was about an actual death. Again, it is art.

Skydoggone - 12/30/2010 at 04:16 PM

I always interpreted as about a death too, dzobo. I assumed it was about Pig's death until I did some research. The lyrics do fit with being betrayed by someone the band trusted.

Knife in the back and more of the same.

Steal your face right off your head.

paulw718 - 12/31/2010 at 05:55 PM

These 2 lines in the song:
Goin' where the wind don't blow so strange,
Maybe off on some high cold mountain chain.

Makes me think whoever is "GONE", is not dead but has split.
So, maybe it is about Lenny Hart.

Also interesting that the band kept going with Mickey Hart on Drums and
didn't seem to hold anything against him.

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