By Robert Hunter

CF's Composition Desk

The well known writer Robert Hunter, a member of the Rock band the Grateful Dead, graciously gave his permission for CF to set two of his song lyrics, "What's Become of the Baby" and "St. Stephen," to music. When this work, CELESTIAL SIXTIES II, was completed in early 2009, CF sent the composition draft of the score, and a copy of the double CD set MODERNISM FOREVER, to Mr. Hunter, who then replied via email on Monday, April 6, 2009, when he wrote:

"Just got your package, since I rarely go to the office. I want to let you know how much I enjoyed your compositions on the CDs you sent. To my ear you are a first-rate composer of modern classical music. Stunning stuff, all of it. Sorry to hear you're having a rough time getting performances together. However that may be, have faith in your talent and keep composing.
"Robert Hunter"

When CF asked whether these kind words of solace in the desert might be quoted, Mr. Hunter replied in an email that same day:

"Feel free to quote!"


Hunter heard the Celestial Sixties music after I sent him a birthday greeting on June 23, 2011 with links to the pages here at the site. On Sunday, July 3, at 1:33 PM he remarked:

"Christopher thanks for b'day wishes. The midi piece is quite psycho-active. Put me into a light trance then ripped me out of it like a sudden cat claw.
"Modernism forever!

I am pretty sure the "ripping" spot he is remarking about is the "allegro possible" quartet for altos (male falsettists of course) and tenors at measure 273, the section beginning with the words "Stones they cast upon Stephen." This material is repeated in the final coda section, which begins at measure 415, with another, new and concluding idea in such a way that there are two distinct tempos at the same time. The two apparently unrelated ideas have a complex and carefully notated metrical relationship which works out perfectly, with a total discrepancy of only a thirty-second note by the end at measure 468. This "allegro possible" material is essentially an intervallically transformed duet version of the Roman Catholic Office of Saint Stephen in English; in the final coda this music is repeated by the male altos while the tenors and basses sing the extra verses Hunter wrote for his lyrics for the Grateful Dead song St. Stephen and which were not included on the original studio album version of the song. These extra verses, which appear on the album LIVE/DEAD, begin with the words "High green chilly winds and windy vines etc... they're crawling to the sun."

Updated July 5, 2011