Box Of Rain

Album: American Beauty (1970)
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Songfacts®:

  • This song was written for Phil Lesh's father who was dying. Lesh wanted a song to sing to his father before he died. He wrote the music and recorded it and gave the tape to Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. Hunter listened to the music and wrote the lyrics after listening to the tape only a few times. Lesh would practice singing the song in the car on the way to the hospital. He was able to sing the song to his father before he died. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Arthur - North Kingstown, RI
  • This song was often sung in response to Deadheads chanting "We Want Phil!" It was also the last song the Grateful Dead ever played. On July 9, 1995, they played it as a second encore after "Black Muddy River" during their last show, which took place at Soldier Field in Chicago.
  • Robert Hunter says in his lyrics anthology, which is named after this song, that "If if a lyric wrote itself, this did-as fast as the pen would pull." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Karen - buffalo, NY, for above 2

Comments: 28

  • Evie from Hertfordshirethe tune is such a cracking tune
  • Smitty from Belpre, Ohsome songs you just have to sing along.
    this is one of them!!
  • Bri from Elyria, OhPhil wrote about this song in his autobiography "Searching for the Sound." I don't know that he wanted to sing it to his father as much as that it gave words to the feelings he had desiring to help his dad. He also talks about it in the "Classic Albums" video "From Anthem to Beauty" which I would recommend to anyone. Thick Air!!! Today's July 9 and it is 16 years since that last show in Chicago.
  • Don from Seattle, WaIn the fall of 1999, I lost my mom to Cancer at the same time I was going through a major relationship breakup ... I survived what (I hope) was the worst month of my life by listening OBSESSIVELY to two tracks - Box of rain by the Dead and Man on the Moon by REM ... this track brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it a decade down the road, but they are happy tears.
  • Graham from Middletown, RiThe lyrics come from an old story from the band. The whole band went on a camping trip one time and they were walking on the beach. They found a small wooden box abandonded on the beach. When the opened it they found a lizard living inside it so the took it back on the bus with them. Later that day while the box with the lizard in it was left on a table on the bus Phil took a nap. He had a very strange and apparently really trippy dream that had to do with his father. When Phil woke up the lizard was dead but it was lying on his chest. Nobody knows how it got out of the box but after that happened it rained nonstop for 6 days.
    I did not make this up, my father was on Dead Tour and met Jerry Garcia, Jerry told him this story.
  • Fred from Laurel, MdVaughan, Vancouver -- Just a note about Beatles albums. I don't know how the release order went in Canada, but here in the US, anyway, there was an album ("Yesterday and Today") released between Rubber Soul and Revolver. *** I share your admiration for Townes van Zandt, and I might add the late Steve Goodman to that list.
  • Tom from Marble Falls, ArJessica commented about the last episode of "Freaks and Geeks" playing this song. I just saw that episode yesterday online and it made me want to get the album American Beauty. Some of the Dead's stuff is just OK, but Box of Rain (and other songs on American Beauty) will literally affect you in a way few other songs will.
    With the Dead gone and even Phish (not a bad substitute) gone, has Dog Rock totally vanished? I really wish there was a similar group. There are a few bands that play open-air concerts with songs that make you truly ponder, but not like the Dead.
    All Dead-Heads, what groups do you like these days, and why? I'd really want to know.
  • Barry from New York, NcThis song made its debut during the acoustic set on September 17, 1970 at Fillmore East. Unfortunately, the Dead did not play it again until 1972.
  • Vaughan from Vancouver, CanadaThere are few albums put out one after the other that I would make a Double LP of. Rubber Soul and Revolver, Beggers Banquet and Let It Bleed and of course, Workingman's Dead and American Beauty.
    I have no idea how many times I played them and still do, but in LP form, Box of Rain and Ripple wore out a few stereo needles. I think it amazing that one can hear music and write the words from the melody and I write lyrics.
    The best two lyric writers in the U.S.A. besides Dylan?
    Townes Van Zant and Robert Hunter, for my money.
  • Vaughan from Vancouver, CanadaThere are few albums put out one after the other that I would make a Double LP of. Rubber Soul and Revolver, Beggers Banquet and Let It Bleed and of course, Workingman's Dead and American Beauty.
    I have no idea how many times I played them and still do, but in LP form, Box of Rain and Ripple wore out a few stereo needles. I think it amazing that one can hear music and write the words from the melody and I write lyrics.
    The best two lyric writers in the U.S.A. besides Dylan?
    Townes Van Zant and Robert Hunter, for my money.
  • Fyodor from Denver, CoGuess the last two lines really ARE about death!
  • Happy from In The Boonies, InThis song is another reason why American Beauty is my favorite Gratefuld Dead Album.
  • Brian from Northern Ca, CaJohnny told me to comment so here it goes, window is the window of our consciousness, the sun is what creates rain, like God creates our conciousness. We all can all walk around in eachothers shoes, but our own consciousness is what we must deal with ourselves. We can gain perspective from others wisdom, but our own is what we must capture. Like a box, we hold this conciousness of rain and whether we like it or not we have all somehow chosen to live here on earth and live according to it's rules. We are attracted to it for it's mysteriousness and wonder why our souls attempt to live to understand. The moth to a flame is a great example of what this song means to me and how I've come to terms with living towards an end. At least I saw the flame. One of the Top songs of all time.
  • Brandon from Philadelphia, PaMy favorite grateful dead song. This probably isn't wut the songs about but. I like to listen to this song when im depressed or getting stressed. cuz it reminds me that i shouldnt be getting all worked up over "just a box of rain"
  • Steven from Anaheim, CaI agree. A Long Strange Trip is def. a great book
  • Blake from Watertown, Sdif you want like all of the info on the grateful dead read "A long Strange Trip" it is probably the best book ive ever read and its all about the dead, and mostly talks about garcia and their acid trips during the 60's
  • Tom from Hershey, PaThanks Jeff, You da man!
  • Jeff from Wyckoff, NjFrom a letter from Robert Hunter:

    well, I don't like to do this, since it encourages others to ask about what I had in mind when I wrote a song, and mostly you'd need to have my mind to understand even approximately what I had in it. By "box of rain," I meant the world we live on, but "ball" of rain didn't have the right ring to my ear, so box it became, and I don't know who put it there.

    Source: The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
    http://arts.ucsc.edu/Gdead/AGDL/
  • Tom from Hershey, PaCan someone explain the symbolism/ meaning of a "box of rain". Please....
  • Tom from Hershey, PaThis songs got it all, a great west coast feel, funk, folk, R&B, it takes me back to the days in the Haight district.... One of the best Dead songs ever...
  • Andrew from Honolulu, HiNot a lot of comments on this song because they rarely played it live. I think the only occasions when they did was Phil's or maybe his father's birthday. It is my favorite song in the world, the next closest (a million miles away) is Guns and Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine". Long live the Dead!
  • Pete from Oak Park, Ilthis is one of the most beautiful and touching songs I have ever heard. They talk about it in the grateful dead documentary that talks about the making of American Beauty.
  • Jimi from St Paul, MnAs an aging Dead Head (42) I remember when I first heard this song. I was a junior in HS and I was the new kid, again. I found a group of kids that were into the Dead (yeah, and OTHER things) and they turned me onto American Bueaty (BTW if you look at the writing on the album or CD it also appears to spell out American Reality,fun fact) I heard the first song Box of Rain and I was moved to tears. I never knew why I was until I read tht it was written for Phils father. "There is nothing like, and never will be agin, A Grateful Dead show" Thanks Guys.
  • Jessica from Holt, MiThis song was featured on the last episode of the fabulous television show "Freaks and Geeks", entitled "Discos and Dragons." The guidance counselor quotes this song gives main character Lindsay Weir the American Beauty album to listen to. While carrying the album around the lunch room, two Deadheads tell her that it's the best album ever. After listening to it, she talks to the Deadheads Victor and Laurie and they tell her about how they follow the Grateful Dead everywhere and go to all of their concerts. At the end of the show, Lindsay gets on the bus to go to an academic summit that she has been accepted to for the summer. This song plays at the very end of the episode (and the end of the entire season/show), where we see Lindsay get off the bus, not at the University of Michigan where the academic summit is, but rather on a corner where Victor, Laurie, and her enemy-turned-friend Kim Kelley are waiting for her with their van to go follow the Grateful Dead. Their song "Ripple" is also featured in this episode.
  • Todd from Bristol, CtWow, sad story about how the song came to be...but I bet there is a link between Phil's singing to his father and his father's death. Ok that was horrible. Great song, interesting fact.
  • Lisa from Burlington, Ontario, CanadaI've always thought this was one of the most beautiful songs I ever heard. It seemed to have so much meaning. Now after reading that it was written for Phil Lesh's dying father, it makes perfect sense. Amazing tune.
  • Mike from Warwick, RiI think the Grateful Deal is anything from the Wendy's 99 cent menu....the Grateful Dead, on the other hand, is an awesome band. They toured more than anyone I know of - their concerts can be downloaded legally from www.archive.org. Have fun listening to their live stuff.
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaI love this song! I can't believe nobody has commented on it. This is one of the best songs on American Beauty, but they are all good. How come nobody has commented on the greatness of this song!
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