ME AND MY UNCLE
“Me and My Uncle”, often also written “Me & My Uncle”, is a song composed by John
Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, and popularized by the Grateful Dead and Judy
Collins. John Phillips originally wrote “Me and My Uncle” at a drinking session in a
hotel room with Judy Collins and Neil Young (among others) in 1963. According to
Grateful Dead Lyric & Song Finder,
John often used to tell the story behind “Me and My
Uncle”. Years ago he began receiving publishing royalties from a song on a Judy Collins
record with which he was unfamiliar. It was titled “Me and My Uncle”. He called Judy to
let her know of the mistake because he hadn’t written any such song. She laughed and
told him that about a year before, in Arizona after one of her concerts, they had a ‘Tequila
Night’ back at the hotel with Stephen Stills, Neil Young and a few others. They were
running a blank cassette and John proceeded to write “Me and My Uncle” on the spot.
The next day, John woke up to the tequila sunrise with no recollection of the songwriting
incident. Judy kept the cassette from that evening and then, without informing John,
recorded the song for her own record. Over the years the song was recorded by several
people, and eventually became a standard of the Grateful Dead. John used to joke that,
little by little, with each royalty check, the memory of writing the song would come back
“Me and My Uncle” has also been performed by John Denver, Dino Valente, Mike
Wilhelm and by John Phillips himself.
Me and my uncle went ridin’ down,
South Colorado, West Texas bound.
We stopped over in Santa Fe,
That bein’ the point just about half way,
And you know it was the hottest part of the day.
I took the horses up to the stall,
Went to the barroom, ordered drinks for all.
Three days in the saddle, you know my body hurt,
It bein’ summer, I took off my shirt,
And I tried to wash off some of that dusty dirt.
West Texas cowboys, they’s all around,
With liquor and money, they’re loaded down.
So soon after payday, know it seemed a shame;
You know my uncle, he starts a friendly game,
High-low jack and the winner take the hand.
My uncle starts winnin’; cowboys got sore.
One of them called him, and then two more,
Accused him of cheatin’; Oh no, it couldn’t be.
I know my uncle, he’s as honest as me,