"If you get confused, listen to the music play"

The Annotated "Franklin's Tower"

An installment in The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics.
By David Dodd
Research Associate, Music Dept., University of California, Santa Cruz
Copyright notice

"Franklin's Tower"
Words by Robert Hunter; music by Jerry Garcia
Copyright Ice Nine Publishing; used by permission

In another time's forgotten space
your eyes looked through your mother's face
Wildflower seed on the sand and stone
may the four winds blow you safely home

Roll away ... the dew
Roll away... the dew
Roll away... the dew
Roll away... the dew

You ask me where the four winds dwell
In Franklin's tower there hangs a bell
It can ring, turn night to day
Ring like fire when you lose your way

Roll away... the dew . . .

God help the child who rings that bell
It may have one good ring left, you can't tell
One watch by night, one watch by day
If you get confused just listen to the music play

Roll away... the dew . . .

Some come to laugh their past away
Some come to make it just one more day
Whichever way your pleasure tends
if you plant ice you're gonna harvest wind

Roll away... the dew . . .

In Franklin's Tower the four winds sleep
Like four lean hounds the lighthouse keep
Wildflower seed in the sand and wind
May the four winds blow you home again

Roll away... the dew
Roll away... the dew
Roll away... the dew
Roll away... the dew
You better roll away the dew

"Franklin's Tower"

Recorded on

First performance: June 17, 1975 at Winterland, San Francisco. This was the "Bob Fried Memorial Boogie", and the Dead's show included the first "Crazy Fingers" and the first "Help On the Way." The tune has remained in the repertoire since.

Covered by

In another time's...

This note from a reader:
Subject: The Annotated Franklin's Tower
Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2001 14:10:34 -0500
From: "P B"

What a fantastic website! It has certainly enhanced my enjoyment of Robert Hunter's lyrics. I thought of Franklin's Tower this morning on the way to work while listening to the last several lyrics of Van Morrison's Astral Weeks:

In another time
In another place
In another time
In another place
In another face

After considering more carefully at the lyrics of each song, it occurred to me that they share the theme of a lifelong spiritual journey to enlightenment ("may the four winds blow you home again"; "I got a home on high in another land so far away...way up in the heaven"). Morrison's guiding light is a woman, presumably his wife at the time Janet Planet, while Hunter's seems to be music. I haven't run across anything to suggest that Morrison influenced Hunter, but now I wonder if there was a connection.

Take care,
Carl Desenberg

four winds

In Greek mythology, according to Bullfinch's Mythology:
[The winds were] "Boreas or Aquilo, the north wind; Zephyrus or Favonius, the west; Notus or Auster, the south; and Eurus, the east."--p. 176.

Here's a list of definitions of the wind gods from Mythtext, a web site:

(drawing of the Tower of Winds, Athens) Illustration by Stuart-Revett, from OIKIA KRPPHETOR: Studien zum sogennannten Turm der Winde in Athen, Rome: Giorgio Bretschneider, 1983.

A reader, Paul Rolnick, wrote to alert me to the presence of a "Tower of Winds," in Athens, located on the Agora. It is an eight-sided ("The Eleven"?!) tower constructed ca. 100-35 B.C.E. A frieze depicting the eight winds (yes, eight) runs along the top of the tower, which was used as a giant hydraulic timepiece. Thanks, Paul!

For a set of images of the tower, see Kevin Glowacki's page/

Pursuing that tidbit, I also stumbled across a Tower of the Winds in the Vatican, built by Gregory XIII, and known as the "Torre dei Venti." So, the idea of the winds living in a tower seems to be ancient and pervasive.

There is also a Biblical reference to the four winds, in Zechariah, Chapter 2, v. 6: "I have spread you abroad as the four winds of heaven."

Fats Domino had a hit with a song entitled "Let the Four Winds Blow."

This note from another reader:

Date: Tue, 5 Dec 1995 10:59:28 -0800
From: Michael Zelner
Subject: Franklin's Tower lyric


I received a kind e-mail thank-you today from a reader of r.m.gd in response to my posting the text of a newspaper article there. She ended her note with the following:

> May the forewinds blow you safely home!

Huh, I thought. I always heard it as "four winds." I don't have the sheet music in front of me, but I think it's that way there, too. So of course I went to your Annotated Lyrics Web page to check, and you have it as "four winds" also.

But then I got to thinking, why not "forewinds?" I looked it up in the OED:

"Forewind (Obs.) Also for-. [f. FORE - pref. + WIND sb. Cf. Du. voorwind] A wind that blows a ship forward on her course, a favourable wind."
So I learned something new today -- hope you did, too.



Michael Zelner

Oakland CA USA

e-mail: michaelz@zoka.com


Roll away the dew

Compare the folksong "Blow Away the Morning Dew", (Child No. 112) with its refrain:
"Sing, blow away the morning dew,
the dew and the dew"

There is also the traditional celtic tune, "The Morning Dew", here in notation via the Tune Web.

This email from a reader:

Subject: roll away the dew...
Date: Fri, 17 Sep 1999 07:19:36 PDT
From: "Dominic Mastroianni"

Hi David,
This morning I was reading "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and some lines (117-18) from 4.1 caught my eye. Theseus is describing his hounds, which "are bred out of the Spartan kind," and he states, "their heads are hung/With ears that sweep away the morning dew." A link to "Franklin's Tower," with its "roll away the dew" and "four lean hounds?" To make the case stronger, these lines are preceded by a few from Hippolyta (his betrothed), who recalls the barking of "hounds of Sparta" - "I never heard/So musical a discord, such sweet thunder" - an uncanny description of how the Dead can sound. Feel free to use this on your site if you think it's worth noting. Take care, and thanks for all the work you've done to help illuminate the songs.
--Dom Mastroianni


This note from a reader:
From: mattrob487@aol.com [mailto:mattrob487@aol.com]
Sent: Thursday, November 20, 2003 1:01 AM
Subject: concerning Franklin's Tower in your annotated web page

What do you think about the definition of a Franklin:
Main Entry: frank·lin
Pronunciation: 'fra[ng]-kl&n
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English frankeleyn, from Anglo-French fraunclein, from Old French franc
Date: 14th century
: a medieval English landowner of free but not noble birth

It sounds as if Hunter is describing a tower on a free person's land, probably surrounded by feudal lords. So in "God save the child that rings that bell..." Hunter is referring to freedom?
Thanks for the website. It rocks!!!!
Matthew Robertson


This note from a reader:
Date: Fri, 2 Dec 2005 11:10:56 -0500
From: Dave Gomolka
To: ddodd@well.com
Subject: franklins tower

Hi Dave,

For some reason Franklins Tower just popped into my head and I thought I would do a little web search on those two words. I found a site regarding a lighthouse [Pigeon Point] in California. I wonder if Hunter might have had a bit of this in mind when he penned the lyrics.

Here is the site:

[Note the salient sentences: "The conical-shaped masonry structure remains in a good state of preservation despite it's many years of service. Though the sentinel stands where the British ship Sir John Franklin was wrecked shortly before the tower was built, the point bears the name of an earlier shipwreck. The Franklin ran afoul of the rocks in January 1865 and the captain and crew perished."]

Your site is very interesting; I just wish I had more time to peruse.... I experienced the Dead many times from 77 to @ 90 and it was always a spiritual journey....


David Gomolka

if you plant ice you're gonna harvest wind

Compare the Biblical quotation from Hosea, Chapter 8, verse 7:
"For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind."

four lean hounds

This note from a reader:
Subject: Franklin's Tower - "...four lean hounds..."
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 1998 20:24:40 EST
From: Plnnr@aol.com

Dear David:

I visited your annotation site today for the first time in many moons. I'm glad to still see that it is up and running.

While looking through Bartlett's today I came across a familiar phrase that just blew my mind - "four lean hounds." It is from an e. e. cummings poem. Sorry that I didn't write the entire reference down, but I figured you would have your own copy of Bartlett's and could do the leg work.

Again, I'm glad to see that the site is still expanding. That is certainly a testament to Hunter's and Barlow's "well-readedness."

Take care. I'll write again as things flash by.

Lee Tyson

Here's the quote (and for more on Hunter's allusion, see his explication of the lyric):

"four lean hounds crouched low and smiling
my heart fell dead before."
--e.e. cummings, "All in green went my love riding." (1923)

keywords: @music DeadBase code: [FRAN]
First posted: March, 1995
Last revised: December 5, 2005