This is the song the Grateful Dead played more than any other, cover or original, all the way from 1966 to 1995. (1) it could be "... dust and dirt" (2) that's how I heard it, but Kevin Sullivan believes it's "... winner stakes the hand" (ie the next hand). (3) in some early versions Bob Weir sang "Grabbed me a bottle, cracked him in the jaw" which is similar to what Judy Collins sang in the original version of the song (see below) (4) variations included "... that man he won't grow old" and maybe "God damn he won't grow old." Kevin Sullivan argues it should be "I'll dare he won't grow old." ` (5) in very early versions, Weir sang "And I left him laying there by the side of the road", also similar to the Judy Collins' version
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,
And I'm as honest as a Denver man can be.
One of them cowboys, he starts to draw,
And I shot him down, Lord he never saw.
Shot me another, oh damn he won't grow old.
In the confusion, my uncle grabbed the gold,
And we high-tailed it down to Mexico.
I love those cowboys, I love their gold,
I loved my uncle, God rest his soul,
Taught me good, Lord, Taught me all I know
Taught me so well, I grabbed that gold
And I left his dead ass there by the side of the road.