Weir Science

With the Dead gone, Bob Weir lives the good afterlife

Toward that end Ratdog pieces become family affairs, as Weir often incorporates the others in the songwriting process. "If we all get started with a song, it gets to the point where it's soup. Everybody's invested in it."

This was a hard-learned lesson for Weir, who spent almost 30 years in the Dead having his songs assimilated into the band's central jam-processing unit. "As far as I was concerned, it was getting mangled. The look-what-they've-done-to-my-song-Ma syndrome," Weir recalls. "[But] everybody else was real happy with it.

"Actually I was evolving toward this in the Dead in my final days with stuff like "Easy Answers' and "Corrina.' [In] those tunes I tried to involve other guys in the band as much as I could, get as much collusion as I could from the guys, and get as big a ball rolling as I possibly could before I even started to try to make a song out of it."

Year of the rat: Jay Lane, Kenny Brooks, Jeff Chimenti, Bob Weir, Rob Wasserman, and Mark Karan are Ratdog
Year of the rat: Jay Lane, Kenny Brooks, Jeff Chimenti, Bob Weir, Rob Wasserman, and Mark Karan are Ratdog

Coming from a band where change was virtually the only rule, Weir's evolution is somewhat surprising. After all, he didn't start incorporating his newfound writing approach until the early '90s, when he'd already been at it for 25 years with the same group of guys.

Of course other factors have since played into his evolution. Now married, Weir has a three-year-old daughter at home. "It's given me a little different perspective to write about, because I'm seeing the world through new eyes. I'm loving that. You can't not, especially if you like a little adventure."

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