Franklin’s Tower – Dead & Company at Fenway!

Fenway Park

Dead & Company

Franklin’s Tower

Do you know what the song’s about?

The song is about events during the American revolution. ‘Franklin’ refers to Benjamin Franklin. The ‘Bell’ in the tower is the Liberty Bell.  Casting large metal objects is a complicated process. Casting bells is additonally complicated by the fact that bells must be able to withstand the stress of ringing, and they must produce a good tone. The Liberty Bell was not only very large, but it needed to ring loudly and clearly enough to be heard around the world. This was pushing the limits of 18th century technology.

As you probably know, Benjamin Franklin was not only a philosopher and statesman, he was an inventor. He was involved in the design of the Liberty Bell in the following way:

Franklin postulated that a process which he called “dewing” could be used to improve the production process of large bells. Dewing basically involves exposing the freshly cast bell to large quantities of steam while the bell is still hot. The steam causes a rapid cooling, producing droplet of ‘dew’ on the bell. After the dew is formed, the bell is rolled between large cotton sheets. He described this process as “rolling away the dew”.

Unfortunately, Franklin’s contempories had a very hard time understanding his technology. He showed them sample bells, asking him to simply look at the results without trying to understand the process. This was when he uttered the now famous quote, “if you get confused, listen to the music play.”

In the end, Franklin couldn’t convince the foundry to use his dewing process. Instead they used an alternate process developed by a Frenchman named Simon Legree (who eventually turned out to be a British agent). Simon’s process involved planting small ice crystals (seeds) into the metal while the bell was being cast.

As we all know, the Liberty Bell didn’t last very long. I believe it had one good ring, but you can’t really tell because it was so long ago.

Apparently the one time it was rung was during a storm. After ringing, the famous crack developed in the side of the bell and the wind blew through the crack. They tried ringing the bell again, but the only sound was of the wind blowing through the crack.

Benjamin Franklin was understandably disgusted. When asked later about the incident, his only comment was “They planted ice, so they harvested wind.” The ice refers to an alternate dewing process they used at the suggestion of a rival inventor (I’ll spare you the details, but he turned out to be quite a Tory). The wind, of course, is the lack of sound from subseqent ringings. By Andrew Shalit

In another time’s forgotten space
Your eyes looked through your mother’s face
Wildflower seed on the sand and stone
May the four winds blow you safely home

Roll away, the dew
Roll away, roll away the dew
Roll away, roll away the dew
Roll away, roll away the dew

I’ll tell you where the four winds dwell
In Franklin’s tower there hangs a bell
It can ring, turn night to day
It can ring like fire when you lose your way

Roll away, the dew
Roll away, roll away the dew
Roll away, roll away the dew
Roll away, roll away the dew

God save the child who rings that bell
I may have one good ring baby, you can’t tell
One watch by night, one watch by day
If you get confused just listen to the music play

Some come to laugh their past away
Some come to make it just one more day
Whichever way your pleasure tends
If you plant ice you’re gonna harvest wind

Roll away, the dew
Roll away, roll away the dew
Roll away, roll away the dew
Roll away, roll away the dew

I’ll tell you where the four winds sleep
Like four lean hounds the lighthouse keep
Wildflower seed in the sand and wind
May the four winds blow you home again

Roll away, the dew
Roll away, roll away the dew
Roll away, roll away the dew
Roll away, roll away the dew

What a fantastic show!  I’m grateful for Kyle Baker for the tickets!

We had a blast

Matt Becker

Live from Matt’s House

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