"Franklin's Tower" as written by Jerome J. Garcia, William Kreutzmann and Robert C. Hunter....
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, roll away the dew
Roll away, roll away the dew
Roll away, roll away the dew

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

Roll away, the dew
Roll away, roll away the dew
Roll away, roll away the dew
Roll away, roll away the dew

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

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
Roll away, roll away the dew
Roll away, roll away the dew
Roll away, roll away the dew

I'll tell you where 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, roll away the dew
Roll away, roll away the dew
Roll away, roll away the dew


Lyrics submitted by itsmyownmind

"Franklin's Tower [Live - Dead Set]" as written by Robert C. Hunter Jerome J. Garcia

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Franklin's Tower song meanings
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  • +6
    General CommentThe lyrics to this song are about the Ben Franklin's process of creating the Liberty Bell. To make a bell of such a large magnitude, Franklin invented the method of "rolling the dew." After the bell is cast and still hot, it is exposed to large amounts of steam. Afterwards, the bell is rolled in large amounts of cotton sheets. Franklin's peers questioned this technique, upon which Ben replied, "If you get confused, listen to the music play." Thanks to Andrew Shalit for this information.
    alty6905on October 17, 2004   Link
  • +5
    General Commenti feel like this song's about puttin the past away. "rollin away the dew." its about us travelin folk lookin for a place to call home. it's about remembering that freedom is song to be sung day after day. and if "you ever get confused, all you need to do is listen to that music play." this song is about finding your way when you get lost. "some come to laugh their past away, some come to make it just one more day." some of us gather at the shows or wherever just to forget about the past, and some of us are here just get by one more fuckin day. this song is about gettin on with it and keepin it goin. just keep movin on and roll away that fuckin dew. :)
    maxd1993on March 28, 2013   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI think you guys are trying to read too much into this. While he could indeed have implied some of the things mentioned, it is more basic. "Roll away the dew" is a message to shake off your sloth and wake up, quit lying down in the grass collecting dew. "Another times forgotten space", is referring to when you were alive in the womb about to be born into the current "reality". And the best lyric of all, "if you plant ice, you're going to harvest wind", is simply what is stated: ice is a cold substance that melts away and leaves nothing. If you don't plant the seeds of love in your life, you harvest wind.
    azmdtgon February 09, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIf you get confused, listen to the music play
    tis true man
    sugarmagnoliaon September 27, 2004   Link
  • +1
    My OpinionOk. This entire discussion is completely invalid. How can any of you truly claim to appreciate and claim to understand the Grateful Dead when none have you even noticed at the beginning of these "lyrics" that when it says "Wallflower seed..." it is not "wallflower" but is "wildflower" in the same fashion as the end? I do realize that this is one word, however it can change the entire meaning of the song because a transition from a wallflower to a wildflower is very significant of time, growth and development. It signifies that the subject at the beginning has transformed greatly when in fact this is not the case at all. So perhaps all you fake deadheads out there could at least download a couple of live concerts so you can try to understand the dead?
    urallrongiknowon May 18, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIn general, I think if you over analyze lyrics you are missing what Grateful Dead was about. They created a feeling with their songs, not precise meanings. Backup a little and feel the song. It's about a wallflower becoming a wildflower. It's about birth, life, freedom. It's about people emigrating to America to laugh their past away or just make it for one more day. Ben Franklin's Liberty Bell up in that tower is like a beacon for those looking for freedom. It can ring, turn night to day
    It can ring like fire when you loose your way. Roll away, the dew. Get up, keep going, seek freedom, survive.
    croppcircleon August 29, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti feel franklins tower represents freedom... but not freedom by coming to america, but being free where ever you are, and that the four winds are obviously about freedom, wether it be out at sea or on a bike or just a travler, we all feel freeist with the winds upon us. And rollin away the dew is just moving on. weather you are having a great life, or are down and struggle just for the next day, keep going to have the freedom that calls to us
    pinkbunny713on October 28, 2013   Link
  • +1
    Link(s)I think taking a look at Hunter's own response to someone writing about Grateful Dead sons, and in particular Franklin's Tower, would be an excellent place to start! Here is a link to it:
    jlovkay.web.wesleyan.edu/…
    eyes43on May 17, 2017   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationIn another time’s forgotten space
    Your eyes looked from your mother's face
    Wild flower seed on the sand and stone
    May the four winds blow you safely home

    The “four winds” here refer to the four winds of the Bible, or God’s power on Earth. I like the reference to the “four winds” from Revelation 7:1 (I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree) as a cleansing force of God’s judgment.
    The first verse refers to the “4th dimension” of time - generally perceived to be a dimension that we are unable to interact with. Time flows and we are pushed along with it. However, the narrator of the first verse seems to be able to view the entire continuum of time, and describes ‘your eyes looking from your mother’s face’ and ‘wild flower seed on the sand and stone’ as occurring simultaneously as he is outside of time.

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

    The ‘dew’ refers to the leftover vestiges of night and the day prior. Rolling away the dew is a power that is only wielded by the force of time and represents the passage of time and the promise of a new day.
    Here, the ‘four winds’ roll away the dew and Robert Hunter transforms time into the cleansing force of God’s judgment.

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

    The second verse introduces the concept of Franklin’s tower housing the bell that releases the four winds and the power of the passage of time. ‘It can ring, turn night to day’ supports the ringing of the bell as the passage of time.
    The passage of time again is used as a cleansing force to heal wounds (it can ring like fire when you lose your way).
    I am uncertain who Franklin is. I don’t think it refers to Benjamin Franklin. What is clear is that Franklin’ tower is a lighthouse, as this is stated in the final verse. There is a Franklin lighthouse in Maine, though I doubt this is related at all to Franklin’s tower in this song. The concept of Franklin’s tower helping one that is lost find one’s way is another lighthouse analogy, however, I think that Franklin’s tower is a symbolic, rather than an actual lighthouse.

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

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

    In this verse the ringing of the bell seems to refer to the cold comfort of death’s embrace. ‘God save the child that rings that bell’ seems to refer to a child passing away, especially since ‘it may have one good ring’. However, I do not think that the ringing of the bell always indicates the death of an individual. Alternatively, it may indicate that a trauma has occurred early in a child’s life, necessitating the ringing of Franklin’s tower to cleanse the trauma, however, I am confused why it may have only one good ring.
    The ‘music’ here refers to the ringing of the bell, indicating that if one is lost/confused, stop struggling, and listen to the bell ring and allow time to heal.

    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 the wind

    This verse supports the notion that the ringing of the bell of Franklin’s tower unleashes a cleansing force to heal wounds. The final line of the verse, ‘If you plant ice you’re gonna harvest the wind’ indicates that all past actions, even planting ice, regardless if they are positive or negative, will be erased by the four winds, allowing a new future to start.

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

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

    Once again, the narrator views time as a continuity, describing ‘wildflower seed on the sand and wind’, again indicating that Franklin’s tower sits outside of time.
    ‘May the four winds blow you home again’: the passage of time will heal all wounds.

    Roll away the dew
    Roll away the dew
    Roll away the dew
    You'd better roll away the dew
    Deadhead1on November 26, 2019   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI've heard over the years an explaination that says this song is about snorting cocaine thru a $100 bill. It's very interesting if you break out an old style $100 and look at the bill while you read the lyrics. On the front is old Ben himself. One the back is Freedom Hall in Philly in which the liberty bell rests. A slang word for money is dew. It's always been a status symbol to roll up a franklin and snort. Roll away the Dew ! If you plant ice, you gonna harvest wind !
    jakiebumon June 13, 2003   Link

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