“Let there be songs to fill the air” – Robert Hunter

–Family announcement of the death September 23 of Robert Hunter, one-time lyricist in residence for the Grateful Dead who wrote “Uncle John’s Band,” “Box of Rain,” “Ripple” and “Touch of Gray.” He was 78.

Hunter, longtime friend and creative partner of Jerry Garcia, wrote many memorable lyrics, including the often-quoted line from “Truckin'”: “What a long, strange trip it’s been.”

He published books of poetry and performed as a solo act, accompanying himself on the guitar. In later years he wrote songs with Bob Dylan, including most of the songs on Together Through Life.

In Rolling Stone magazine, David Browne and Jon Blistein wrote: “His lyrics — heard in everything from early Dead classics like “Dark Star” and “China Cat Sunflower” and proceeding through “Uncle John’s Band,” “Box of Rain,” “Scarlet Begonias,” and “Touch of Gray”— were as much a part of the band as Jerry Garcia’s singing and guitar.”

“His favorite line was in “Ripple,” the Rolling Stone article notes: “Let it be known there is a fountain that was not made by the hands of men.”

In the early 1960s he was a volunteer research subject in the CIA’s MK-ULTRA psychedelic drugs program at Stanford University, an experience which he said influenced his songwriting.

Rolling Stone obituary

New York Times obituary

Remembrances by fans on dead.net

The Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
(Amazon)

American Beauty
(vinyl, via Amazon)

Workingman’s Dead
(vinyl, via Amazon)

Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control (Amazon)