"I can't figure out if it's the end or beginning..." roses logo for AGDL

The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics

Dedicated to the memory of Jerry Garcia.

By David Dodd,
1997-98 Research Associate, Music Dept., Univ. of Calif. at Santa Cruz

(The opinions expressed are those of the author, not of the University of California.) Notes and essays 1995-2007 David Dodd, or by their authors. All Grateful Dead lyrics Ice Nine Publishing.Copyright notice.

Project begun: January, 1995.
Last updated: June 16, 2007
Suspended: June 26, 2007. No further updating to this site will be done, barring unforeseen circumstances. Thanks very much! --DD

Note: for a broader search on Grateful Dead-related topics, try This Old Engine
Please read and contribute to "deadsongs.vue, a WELL Conference readable by the world, featuring discussions of each Grateful Dead song. Hosted by David Gans, Alex Allan, and myself. Take a look! Join the WELL and become a participant!


  • Introduction to the project
  • List of songs annotated
  • Thematic essays
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Bibliography
  • Bibliography of Songbooks
  • Films and videos
  • Permissions and acknowledgements
  • Awards
  • Discographies:: note: For more up-to-date and exhaustive discographies, see
  • Announcing the print publication of The Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics. For more information on the book and upcoming events such as book signings, see the information page.

    Available now! Ordering options:

    • Introduction to the Project

      What follows is the introduction I wrote a long time ago when I started this project. I am now laying it to rest, and will not be updating the site further. This will include no longer updating broken links, or correcting errors of fact. So the website, as it stands, will become more and more of an artifact, and less and less of a living thing. Thanks to all who participated! I have enjoyed doing the work, and I continue to love the music and the words. --David Dodd

      This site provides footnotes for Grateful Dead lyrics. The standard procedure will be to provide links for words or phrases which might benefit from some elucidation, without attempting to give definitive "interpretations," since that's a very personal endeavor.

      The standard text for Robert Hunter's lyrics will be his A Box of Rain (2nd ed., 1993). He has kindly agreed to allow me to use full text for all lyrics as of April 24, 1996! Hunter has also posted his lyrics on the web! For John Perry Barlow's lyrics, the standard text will be his own library of lyrics, on the World Wide Web. Lyrics by others, such as Robert Petersen, Robert Weir, and Jerry Garcia, will be from legitimate song books, whenever possible.

      As appropriate, some lyrics will include an analysis section, which will provide technical information on the lyric's construction, and some potential avenues for interpretation. I actively encourage anyone with differing interpretations to send them to me via the links provided in each song's pages.

      Within each lyric's pages, some links will be to footnotes within that page, and some to sites outside of this web site. That's the fun of it, I think. Some of the links are to commercial databases; this is not meant as an endorsement.

      There are two main metaphors for this project that I try to keep in mind: 1) I've always wondered what would happen if, every time you ran into any kind of reference to a book or a person or a work of art you weren't familiar with, you had to go find out about that thing before you continued with what you were doing: would you ever finish anything?; and 2) The mirror ball in Winterland, which would just sort of scatter all over, shedding shards of light without really claiming to illuminate anything. Always a high point of a Winterland show.

      The scope of the project will be limited to lyrics of original songs performed by the Dead. The covers have been more than adequately covered by Blair Jackson in his columns on "Roots" in The Golden Road, which have been collected into a chapter of his book: Goin' Down the Road: a Grateful Dead Travelling Companion.. For a web site on the covers, see Randy Jackson's excellent Roots of the Grateful Dead. Additionally, Mike Carver is making an effort to collect annotations for songs which appeared in rec.music.gdead at his site.

      I would especially like to acknowledge the support of the Kraemer Family Library of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs during the inception of this project, and of the Grateful Dead, and in particular, Alan Trist of Ice Nine Publishing. The support of Dr. Fred Lieberman of the University of California, Santa Cruz, has been invaluable.

      Enjoy the ride!


      Thematic essays and other apparatus:

      (by David Dodd unless otherwise noted)

      updated June 16, 2007--dgd