"And I done some time..."

Robert M. Petersen: a biographical note

An installment in The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics.
By David Dodd
Library, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
Copyright notice
Robert M. Petersen contributed three lyrics to the Grateful Dead: "New Potato Caboose," "Unbroken Chain," and "Pride of Cucamonga."

Born in 1936 in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Died 1987.

The flyleaf of his volume of collected poems, Alleys of the Heart", states that "in the 50's he hopped the freights, played jazz saxophone and attended San Mateo College in California."

He also served time: the collection of poems entitled "Blue Petre and Other Poems" bears the note, "Deuel Vocational Institution, 1963-1964."

Indeed, if you want biographical information on Petersen, you should examine his poetry. The place of writing is noted at the end of each poem: San Francisco, 1964; Cazadero, Ca., 1964; Oakland, Ca., 1967; Trinidad, Eureka, and Fortuna, Ca., 1970; Black Point, Marin County, and Mt. Hermon, Ca., 1973; San Cristobal, New Mexico, 1974; Ajijic, Lake Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico, 1974; Yelapa, Jalisco, Mexico, 1975; Iron Peak, Mendocino County, Ca., 1976; Moriarity, New Mexico, 1977; Dexter, Oregon, 1977; Fairfax, Ca., 1981; Wildwood Falls, Oregon, 1986.

And within the poems themselves is the story of a life lived determinedly on the road, courting the down-and-out muse of all the Beat poets. There is quite a bit of poetry about the Grateful Dead, most notably the poem "Fern Rock." He characterizes the band as "they of visionary song / plumbing the deepest channels..."

The WELL's Deadlit conference topic number 161 is about Petersen.
First posted: March, 1995
Last revised: March 31, 1995.