“Sleep in the stars, don’t you cry, dry your eyes on the wind.”

I saw Robert Hunter in concert exactly zero times but know every lyric he penned. The lyricist for the Grateful Dead died today at age 78.

If you’re into the Grateful Dead it can feel a little like living in a bubble. You likely have friends who are equally obsessed and most of your conversations find ways home to the band, shows, stories … and yes your favorite lyrics. Outside of that bubble, the world is different and few people care to hear about why that line or melody lives with you. For whatever reason, Robert Hunter’s lyrics live with me. I imagine we all have an artist that does this … the one that finds you and stays forever.

Hunter did what great songwriters do. He wrote about big things, small things, timeless things. But what always struck me about his lyrics was his ability to storytell without cultural references that can so often date music. Sure, he told stories about cowboys and card games, but he he told stories with such indelible phrases they seemed destined to live long after they left the singer’s lips. Pair that with Jerry Garcia’s melodic guitar and you get The Grateful Dead.

I will miss Robert Hunter immensely but his words will go with me.

Here’s a link to his lyrics.


And here are a few links to The Grateful Dead performing some of the songs he wrote.