Jumping off from “Till the Morning Comes” and the outtake “To Lay Me Down” we hear from Donna Jean Godchaux-MacKay on falling in love with (and to) the Dead, Bob Weir on the secret to recording Phil Lesh, Stephen Malkmus with a psychedelic book recommendation, and time travel to Winterland in October 1970.
Till the Morning Comes / To Lay Me Down supplementary notes
By Jesse Jarnow
The first song recorded when the Grateful Dead arrived at San Francisco’s Wally Heider Recording in late summer 1970, “Till the Morning Comes” served as an audition for engineer Stephen Barncard.
The energy of “Till the Morning Comes” reminds Pavement songwriter Stephen Malkmus of how the Dead sound on their earliest recordings and provides a sonic link to the garage rock energy of the Warlocks and the Acid Test era. For him, it likewise brought to mind Be Not Content, a darkly comic and extremely psychedelic 1970 novel by William Craddock that includes a firsthand report of the Muir Beach Acid Test.
Extremely rare in its earliest edition, Rudy Rucker’s Transreal Books reprinted it in 2012 (and here offer much context for its original publication). Most harshly, Trasnreal’s license ran out earlier in 2020. But if you can find a copy, I absolutely second SM’s recommendation. It’s one of the great psychedelic novels.
Occasionally, copies turn up at semi-reasonable prices on used book sites. For currently available copies, try Biblio or ABE Books. An ebook edition is available via Google, and most of it seems to be readable on Google Books. The segment about the Muir Beach Acid Test was included in David Dodd and Diana Spaulding’s Grateful Dead Reader, much easier to find in print, and readable in part here.
We also discussed “To Lay Me Down,” the third song written by Robert Hunter during his productive May 1970 day in London, and the first Jerry Garcia set to music on piano. The band recorded a demo version for American Beauty during the early sessions included on The Angel’s Share: American Beauty.
Meg Baird performs a beautiful version of “To Lay Me Down” on the recent compilation, The Storehouse Presents.
We also heard from Billy Strings, who is a huge fan of the song, here performing it with Molly Tuttle at Grey Fox 2018.