On February 6, Grateful Dead lyricist (and founding member of the influential digital rights group the Electronic Freedom Foundation) John Perry Barlow passed away peacefully at the age of 70, after several years of serious health issues. Barlow was a friend of GD rhythm guitarist Bob Weir in his teen years, and their friendship blossomed into a deep and fruitful songwriting partnership during the early 1970s, several years into the Dead’s long, strange trip. Barlow supplied lyrics for many of Weir’s now-iconic Dead songs through the years, including “Cassidy,” “Black-Throated Wind,” “Looks Like Rain,” “Mexicali Blues,” “Let It Grow,” “The Music Never Stopped,” “Estimated Prophet,” “Lost Sailor,” “Saint of Circumstance,” “Feel Like a Stranger,” “Hell in a Bucket,” “Throwing Stones,” and others. He also wrote lyrics for several of GD keyboardist Brent Mydland’s songs in the 1980s, such as “Tons of Steel,” “Just a Little Light,” “We Can Run,” “Blow Away” and “I Will Take You Home.”


To honor Barlow’s memory, we offer this Halloween 1980 acoustic Dead performance of “Cassidy” shot at Radio City Music Hall in NYC during the band’s 15th anniversary celebration. Weir is playing an Ovation guitar; Jerry Garcia plays a Takamine. And we’ll leave you with this, from “Cassidy”: Fare thee well now, let your life proceed by its own design / Nothing to tell now, let the words be yours, I’m done with mine.”   —Blair Jackson

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