Listen To Pre-Allman Brothers Band Cover Anti-War Anthem ‘Morning Dew’

The 31st Of February recorded a version of Bonnie Dobson’s folk classic.

By Andy Kahn Jan 24, 2024 11:03 am PST

In 1962, Canadian folk musician Bonnie Dobson released a live album Bonnie Dobson At Folk City which captured a performance at Gerde’s Folk City in New York’s Greenwich Village neighborhood, one of the popular venues of the local folk music scene. The album drew little attention to Dobson, but one of the original songs she included on the record became one of the well-known songs of its era, “Morning Dew.”

Ostensibly an anti-nuclear weapon anthem, “Morning Dew” was written by Dobson in Los Angeles after she saw the 1959 sci-fi film, On The Beach, which was based on Nevil Shute’s post-apocalyptic 1957 novel of the same name. Both the film and book take place in the fallout after a nuclear war.

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Dobson spoke about the inspiration behind “Morning Dew” in an April 1993 interview with Randy Jackson for the Roots Of The Grateful Dead series. When asked about the song’s inspiration and cultural context, Dobson stated:

“Yeah, well actually what happened with that song is that I think it must have been maybe 1960 or 1959, I can’t remember when I saw a film called On The Beach and it made a tremendous impression on me, that film. Particularly at that time because everybody was very worried about the bomb and whether we were going to get through the next 10 years. It was a very immediate problem and I remember I was singing in Los Angeles at the Ashe Grove and I sat up all night talking with some friends. I was staying with a girl named Joyce Nastelin whom I lost contact with, nice woman she was. And I don’t know, she went to bed or something and I just sat and suddenly I just started writing this song.

“I had never written anything in my life. I’d written some poetry as a kid. I’d never written songs and this song just came out and really it was a kind of re-enactment of that film in a way where at the end there is nobody left and it was a conversation between these two people trying to explain what’s happening. It was really an apocalypse, that was what it was about.

“I remember the next day, there was a wonderful woman in Los Angeles named Jane Borak and she used to have these terrific parties that lasted all night and were amazing because everybody played all night long. We’d finish at the Ashe Grove, say Brownie and Sonny, and we’d pick up Mark Spoelstra and God knows whatever musicians were around and we’d end up at Janes and we’d sing and play the whole night long, it was quite wonderful. I remember ringing her up and saying ‘I’ve written this song’ and was sort of singing it down the phone and ‘Do you think it’s any good?’

“I think I performed it at Ashe Grove, but I’m not sure about that, but the first time that I know that I performed it where it actually made an impact was at the first Mariposa festival in Toronto. In fact, I remember vividly the review in the Globe & Mail, they said some things about me and a mournful dirge called ‘Morning Dew,’ and she sang a mournful dirge. That’s what it was really about, it was really about that film and the feelings, the fearful feelings we had at that time. And then things got better and then they got worse and we are where we are now. Actually, I think that the song, if anything, is more of this time, of the present than it ever was then.”

A group called The Goldebriars tracked Dobson’s song, leaving it uncredited and titled “Come Walk Me Out” on their 1964 album. Prominent Greenwich Village folkie Fred Neil recorded a version of “Morning Dew” on the 1964 album he recorded with Vince Martin, Tear Down The Walls. That recording served as the basis for the reworked version of “Morning Dew” released by Tim Rose in 1967, which controversially gave Rose co-writing credit alongside Dobson.

According to Grateful Dead publicist and band biographer Dennis McNally, and old friend of Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia introduced him to Fred Neil’s recording of “Morning Dew.” The band recorded “Moring Dew,” credited to Dobson and Rose, for their 1967 self-titled debut studio album and it became an emotionally charged staple of their live shows.

One year later, another group of soon-to-be-legendary musicians took a turn at recording “Morning Dew.” The short-lived pre-Allman Brothers Band known as The 31st Of February tracked Dobson’s anti-nuke anthem in late 1968, during the group’s only year in existence.

The 31st Of February was originally made up of Jacksonville, Florida natives – guitarist Scott Boyer, bassist David Brown and drummer Butch Trucks – who met at Florida State University in 1965 and released a self-titled album in 1968.

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Later that year, brothers Gregg Allman and Duane Allman were recruited to join The 31st Of February. The band went to work on a would-be second album at a studio near Miami in September 1968. “Morning Dew” was recorded during the recording sessions, as was an early version of future Allman Brothers Band hit “Melissa,” but a second album by The 31st Of February was never released.

The 31st Of February dissolved shortly after and soon the Allman siblings and Trucks formed The Allman Brothers Band along with bassist Berry Oakley, guitarist Dickey Betts and drummer Jaimoe. Trucks, who died at age 69 on this date in 2017, remained a member of The Allman Brothers Band through multiple breaks, lineup changes and reformations, playing drums for the Rock And Roll Hall Fame group through their final gig in 2014.

31st Of February version of “Morning Dew” was later issued on the 1972 compilation album, Duane & Greg Allman that was culled from the September ‘68 sessions. Listen to the recording below:

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