Lyrics: [Robert Hunter]
Music: Richard McNees

This listed in the discography in Robert Hunter's book "Box Of Rain" as being recorded for the unreleased album by the band Comfort.

The title makes it sound as if it should be part of Robert Hunter's Alligator Moon suite, but "Box Of Rain" doesn't list it as one of the songs in that suite, nor are the lyrics included elsewhere in the book.

I had the opportunity to ask Richard McNees (via Alan Trist) about this song, and he came up with this fascinating information about the writing of the suite:

"When we were doing the collaboration, I think the deal was Kevin [Morgenstern] and I each would write three songs. I submitted three songs based on Bob's [Hunter] pretty random poetry that he had given to me to work from. He then took the songs and molded the lyrics and story. He only used two of the three, which became "Blue Note" and "New East St. Louis Blue". None of the final lyrics were the ones I selected from his poetry. It is a wonderful example of his genius as a writer that he could do that - populate what was mostly abstract thoughts and images with characters, romance, adventure and a stroke of drama. Pretty exciting stuff.

"The third song, which I called "Shades and Shadows" (from the raw poetry) was never done by him, although Kathleen Klein and I performed it a few times in a small venue on our own. He might referring that song as "Cigarette" as it was written for but not used in the suite. And the reason there are no words is it did not get reworked by him or appear in the final version.

"The song was closer to jazz, and was also in a 6/8 time signature, like New East St Louis, though more ethereal. And it was tailored in my mind for Kathleen's voice. I may want to use that one some day as I think it is a good song, particularly for jazz, and the lyrics are quite good and are unfiltered by reworking - more like poetry which goes real good with jazz."
I have recently (2015) found a recording in circulation which seems to be a rough mix of the studio version of the "Alligator Moon" suite. This has the track listing as in Hunter's discography. But the song "Cigarette" is in fact the song in Box of Rain titled New East St Louis Blues, with the song "New East St Louis Blue" being a fragment from the end of Blue Note. It may be that Hunter changed his mind over the titles and song split - or the track listing for the recording has divided up the tracks wrongly, with there being no song "Cigarette" included. It does look to me from the lyrics as if the song titled "New East St Louis Blue" should be the one listed as such in Hunter's Box of Rain.

Robert Hunter Recordings
     Date Album Recorded By
      1978 Alligator Moon Comfort (note 1)
(1) recorded by Robert Hunter with the band Comfort, but never released.

Further Information
For more information on recordings see Matt Schofield's Grateful Dead Family Discography


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