Morning Dew was written at a time when people worldwide were forced to contemplate what a post-nuclear war would look like, when threats of nuclear war were very real, and where some dangerously thought about “winning” a nuclear war. In U.S. elementary schools teachers would conduct drills as to preparing for nuclear war—ludicrous drills. One would be instructed to duck under one’s school desk and cover one’s ears—as apparently radiation could be heard, and it could not get under desks. .
Bonnie Dobson knew better, and she wrote a song that captured post-nuclear war devastation. It is written as a conversation between two survivors, and their wondering at the absence of any others, and at the silence—they keep thinking they hear something—but they don’t. The song ends with the couple deciding to walk outside in the morning dew, as they are going to die in any event.
The song is mostly associated with the Grateful Dead and their stretched-out versions of it. Here at the top is a pretty good video of one from 1989. However, most Dead fans would point to the impeccable May 1977 version at Cornell’s Barton Hall, for which video is not available, but is nonetheless here for your listening.
Recognizing (but not necessarily understanding) that the Grateful Dead are not for everyone, this third video, a version by Ms. Dobson, herself, with Robert Plant, restores the song to its folk roots.
For our playlist, we include a very cool version by The National.