Mason's Children

Lyrics: Robert Hunter
Music: Jerry Garcia

Recorded for Workingman's Dead, but not included on the original release of that album. It was played live less than 20 times in total in 1969 and 1970. It has recently been revived by Phil Lesh & Friends, and by "The Dead".

Mason died on Monday (note 1)
We bricked him in the wall
All his children grew and grew
They never grew so tall before
May they never grow so tall again

We dug him up on Tuesday
He'd hardly aged a day
Taught us all he ever knew
We never knew so much before
We may never know so much again

Mason was a mighty man
A mighty man was he
All he said, when dead and gone
Don't you weep for me

The wall collapsed on Wednesday
We chalked it up to fate
All his children ran and hid
We never hid so well before
Swore we'd never show our face again

Thursday came, then Friday
With fires tall and bright
Mason's children cooked the stew
And cleaned up when the feast was through
Swore we'd never had such times before

Take me to the Reaper Man
To pay back what was loaned
If he's in some other land
Write it off as stoned
(1) in very early versions they sing "The Mason died on Monday" (thanks to Jesse Jarnow for pointing this out). That accords with Garcia's comment in a 1981 interview where he was asked about material recorded around Workingman's Dead and American Beauty that wasn't released. He said "There were one or two tunes that we were working on: 'The Mason.' It's sometimes called 'The Mason's Children.'"

Grateful Dead Recordings
     Date Album
     20 Dec 1969 Dave's Picks Volume 6
     21 Dec 1969 Dave's Picks Volume 6 (Bonus disc)
      2 Jan 1970 Fallout From The Phil Zone (note 6)
      3 Jan 1970 Dave's Picks 2019 Bonus Disc
     10 Jan 1970 30 Days Of The Dead (2010)
     18 Jan 1970 Download Series Vol 2
     24 Jan 1970 Workingman's Dead (note 1) (note 4)
      2 Feb 1970 Dave's Picks Volume 6
     14 Feb 1970 Dick's Picks Vol 4
     studio 1970 So Many Roads (1965-1995)
      3 Jul 2015 Fare Thee Well (CD and DVD)
(Plus live recordings by The Dead, Furthur, Dead & Company, Ratdog, Phil Lesh & Friends etc not listed here. See Grateful Dead Family Discography for a full list.)
Other Recordings
     Date Album Recorded By
     1978 Living Earth Living Earth
     1987 Eternity Blue Henry Kaiser
     1988 Those Who Know History ... Henry Kaiser
     1989 Alternate Versions Henry Kaiser (note 2)
     1993 Comin' Down Fast Motorpsycho (note 3)
     studio 2002 There And Back Again Phil Lesh & Friends (bonus CD single)
     9 Nov 2011 Live: Bloomington, IL Yonder Mountain String Band (note 5)
     2015 Demon Box Motorpsycho
(1) included as a bonus track on remastered album, first released as part of the box set The Golden Road (1965-1973)
(2) I'm not sure whether this is a different version from that on "Those Who Know History ..."
(3) the full title of the CD is "Comin' Down Fast - A Collection of Garbage, Lies and Reflections on Charles Manson." It contains songs by various artists. The Motorpshyco track is titled "Manson's Children" but is the Dead's song.
(4) also released on Dave's Picks Volume 19.
(5) The list above includes only one illustrative example of the series of live recordings by these bands. For a full list see the Grateful Dead Family Discography.
(6) also released on Dave's Picks Volume 6

Further Information
For an online discussion of the lyrics to this song see the deadsongs.vue conference on The Well.
For more information on recordings see Matt Schofield's Grateful Dead Family Discography
For information on references in the lyrics see David Dodd's Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
For David Dodd's discussion of this song on see Greatest Stories Ever Told
For online chords and TAB see


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