How "long and quiet" nights on the ranch inspired Bob Weir's new album

Grateful Dead co-founder Bob Weir.

CBS News

Bob Weir’s new album of cowboy songs, “Blue Mountain,” is his first solo record of original material in 30 years. 

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But the roots of his new music go back even further -- before his time as founding member of the Grateful Dead to the early 1960s, when Weir had a teenage dream of finding a home on the range. 

“I thought it would be a terribly romantic thing to run away and be a cowboy, which I did,” Weir said. 

“You were 15 when you did this?” asked “CBS This Morning: Saturday” anchor Anthony Mason.

“Yeah,” Weir said. ”I found my way out to Wyoming and got to work on a ranch out there. And I was, you know, living in a bunk house. I was the kid on the ranch, so I got to shovel a lot of stalls.”

The nights, he said, were long and quiet. 

“So there wasn’t much to do but tell stories and sing songs. And that’s what we did. I was the kid with the guitar,” he said.

That’s how he was introduced to a whole new songbook. “I won’t say I learned those songs, but halfway learned them. And I’ve been packing that around with me for years, that whole aesthetic,” Weir said. 

“And how would you describe that aesthetic?” Mason asked. 

“High, wide and lonesome,” Weir said. “All along during the Grateful Dead years, every now and again I would sing a cowboy-esque tune because I could. 

“It would be a huge shame to let that aesthetic, that ethos evaporate.”

So what about that sound did he like? “I liked the lonesome,” Weir explained. “It’s not exactly blues, but it’s not exactly not blues.” 

Weir wrote the songs with Josh Ritter and Josh Kaufman, who came up with the idea for the album after performing with Weir some years back. 

It’s opened a new avenue for Weir, who turns 69 this week. He just spent the summer touring with his band, Dead & Company, which includes three of the four surviving core members of the Grateful Dead and John Mayer.  

“Are you going to be going back to that, do you think?” Mason asked. 

“That’s the plan. I am not supposed to talk about that. We are trying to stay open for that,” Weir said.

Meanwhile, he is also working on an orchestral piece, producing a TV show, and writing a book.  

“So, you know, if I get bored, I don’t know how that’s going to happen,” Weir said. 

      
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