Morning Dew, alternately known as Walk Me Out In The Morning Dew or Take Me For A Walk, was a song written by the early-1960's folk artist Bonnie Dobson. Inspired by the book and film On The Beach, it is intended as a requiem for the survivors of a nuclear war, the threat of which was very, very real in 1962 when the song was penned.
It was covered by dozens of performers including Jeff Beck, Lulu, and Clannad, but it probably gained its greatest audience when covered by The Grateful Dead. They began playing the song in concert in early 1967, and it remained in the band's repertoire for 30 years. It was last played (with Jerry Garcia on vocals) on June 21, 1995 in Albany, New York, and it is back in the setlist of the re-formed band The Dead, sung by Joan Osborne.
The song, in D major, never specifically mentions nuclear war, but the images of an unseen "young man moaning" and "baby crying", the sad and resigned tone of the lyrics, and the sedate musical accompaniament strongly evoke a frightening vision of a post-apocalyptic world:
Where have all the people gone, my honey?
Where have all the people gone today?
There's no need for you to worry about all those people,
You've never seen those people anyway.
The song reaches a dramatic climax, as the surviving lovers decide to seal their fate and enjoy the morning one last time, despite knowing that going outside will mean their certain death:
Walk me out in the morning dew, my honey.
Walk me out in the morning dew today.
I'll walk you out in morning dew my honey,
I guess it doesn't matter anyway,
I guess it doesn't matter anyway.
The version appearing on the Dead's first LP
is somewhat flat and primitive, but there are lots of live versions that are far superior (for example, the famous version of May 8, 1977). It is one of the Dead's most popular songs, and I suggest searching for a nice version if you are at all interested in the band. The version by Gregg and Duane Allman on their boxed-set Dreams is also interesting (and rather good, too).
Partial lyrics transcribed from The Grateful Dead included under fair use guidelines --
the song was not written by the Grateful Dead, is not published by Ice Nine Publishing, and thus does not fall under the permission granted to E2 for reproducing Grateful Dead lyrics.
The version transcribed was published by Nina Music Publishing -- BMI and the song is credited to Bonnie Dobson and Tim Rose, though the original version was solely by Bonnie Dobson. Tim Rose covered the song on his 1967 debut record, Morning Dew, and the Grateful Dead may have adapted their version from his.
I obtained some information from http://entertainment.msn.com/artist/?artist=153380
and from Dead Base.