The late Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter was born today (June 23rd, 1941.) The music to the song “Box of Rain” was written by bassist Phil Lesh to sing to his dying father. It was on American Beauty with lyrics by Robert Hunter. Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh reportedly wrote pretty much all of “Box of Rain,” except its lyrics, going so far as to craft the vocal line so all Robert Hunter had to do was to drop the words right in. Guitarist Bob Weir explains why Lesh was so hands-on with the song, and sheds some light on how it got its title.
“Originally it was Hunter who wrote the lyrics and he wanted it to be ‘Ball of Rain’ but Phil changed it to ‘Box of Rain.’ I can’t remember why, though. I guess it was something of an offering of Phil to his dad who was in the act of shedding this mortal coil at the time that he was working on the tune. So that was certainly what was going through his head and his heart.”