"The bus came by and I got on, that's when it all began"

The Annotated
"That's It For The Other One"

An installment in The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics.

By David Dodd
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Copyright notice
Some interpretations: contributions from the WELL Deadlit conference.

"That's It For The Other One"

Words and music by Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, and Bill Kreutzmann ("That's It For the Other One," composed and written by Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, and Bill Kreutzmann. Reproduced by arrangement with Ice Nine Publishing Company, Inc. (ASCAP))

["Cryptical Envelopment"]

The other day they waited, the sky was dark and faded,
Solemnly they stated, "He has to die, you know he has to die."
All the children learnin', from books that they were burnin',
Every leaf was turnin', to watch him die, you know he had to die.

The summer sun looked down on him,
His mother could but frown on him,
And all the other sound on him,
He had to die, you know he had to die.

["Quodlibet for tenderfeet": Instrumental]

["The Faster We Go The Rounder We Get]

Spanish lady come to me, she lays on me this rose.
It rainbow spirals round and round,
It trembles and explodes
It left a smoking crater of my mind,
I like to blow away.
But the heat came round and busted me
For smilin on a cloudy day


Comin', comin', comin' around, comin' around, comin' around in a circle
Comin', comin', comin' around, comin' around, in a circle,
Comin', comin', comin' around, comin' around, in a circle.

Escapin' through the lily fields
I came across an empty space
It trembled and exploded
Left a bus stop in its place
The bus came by and I got on
That's when it all began
There was cowboy Neal
At the wheel
Of a bus to never-ever land


["We Leave the Castle"]

And when the day had ended, with rainbow colors blended,
Their minds remained unbended,
He had to die, oh, you know he had to die.

That's It For the Other One

Also known as "The Other One," on most recordings. First recorded on Anthem of the Sun. Also to be found, in various forms, on


  1. Henry Kaiser on Those Who Know History are Doomed to Repeat It
  2. Solar Circus on Historical Retrospective.
  3. Phish has covered the song live at least once.

It's interesting to note that Jane's Addiction, in their version of "Ripple" on Deadicated, use the rhythmic figure of "The Other One" for the basis of the instrumental tracks. An interesting juxtaposition...

Blair Jackson, in Grateful Dead: the Music Never Stopped has this to say about The Other One:

"The song, which the Dead frequently dedicated to Owsley and which some have suggested deals with the persecution of the acid chemist, opens with a series of serious, but pleasantly melodic verses sung by Garcia over Pigpen's liturgical organ line and Garcia's florid acoustic guitar... The tune continues to tell the tale of this ill-fated individual until the melody fades and Kreutzmann's and Hart's drums set up the relentless chugging rhythm of the next section, sung by Weir, which eulogizes Prankster Neal Cassady (who died in Mexico in early 1968 under slightly mysterious, possibly drug- related circumstances), and attempts to verbalize, to a degree, psychedelic euphoria. Abruptly, that song closes and the music returns to the original theme sung by Garcia." (pp. 84-85)

David Gans, in Playing in the Band, has this to say about "The Other One":

"There's another piece with a ... simple appearance which provides a launching pad for far-reaching group exploration. It's listed in the songbooks as "Cryptical Envelopment" for publishing reasons, but band and fans know it as "The Other One." It's that brief passage of frantic, fearful 12/8 on side one of Anthem of the Sun and side two of the "Skullfuck" album (Grateful Dead, the 1971 double live LP) with the perfect paranoia imagery and the perfect scary cartoon soundtrack flavor.

"`The thing about `The Other One' that's so thrilling is that it has all these climaxes at an incredible rate when it's already going at a very strong pace,' says Hart.

"Never has such black music packed such joie de vivre! The visual images are of lovely things turning dangerous (`Spanish lady come to me, she lays on me this rose/It rainbow spiral round and round and trembles and explodes') and of everyday scenes turning fabulously opportune: `The bus come by and I got on/That's when it all began...'
As with `Dark Star' the `song' portion of `The Other One' is straightforward, though characteristically clever, and the sketch of a lyric and the `head' of the song are merely jumping-off points.

"`The Other One' has a more clearly circumscribed emotional color than `Dark Star' (`Breathlessness,' says Weir, who wrote it). It's a joyful song of terror and a scary song of fun, and in performance the band takes it through many dark passages with brightly lit tonalities close at hand. You can see the cinematic version of `The Other One' in you mind's eye without having to know the words."(pp. 74-75)

In an interview published in Golden Road, Spring, 1991, p. 30, Garcia was asked about his portion of the lyric:

"Golden Road: Who or what inspired your section of "That's It For the Other One"--"The other day they waited," etc.?

Garcia: ... "Seriously, I think that's an extension of my own personal symbology for "The Man of Constant Sorrow"--the old folk song--which I always thought of as being a sort of Christ parable."

Here are some ideas on the song's meaning contributed via the WELL's Deadlit conference:

Spanish Lady

There's a Spanish Lady in the old folk song "Dublin City".

The Bus

Chapter Six of Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test is entitled "The Bus." He says:
"I couldn't tell you for sure which of the Merry Pranksters got the idea for the bus, but it had the Babbs touch. ... Then somebody--Babbs?--saw a classified ad for a 1939 International Harvester school bus. The bus belonged to a man in Menlo Park. ...Kesey bought it for $1,500--in the name of Intrepid Trips, Inc. Kesey gave the word and the Pranksters set upon it one afternoon. They started painting it and wiring it for sound and cutting a hole in the roof and fixing up the top of the bus so you could sit up there in the open air and play music, even a set of drums and electric guitars and electric bass and so forth, or just ride. Sandy went to work on the wiring and rigged up a system with which they could broadcast from inside the bus, with tapes or over microphones, and it would blast outside over powerful speakers on top of the bus. There were also microphones outside that would pick up sounds along the road and broadcast them inside the bus. There was also a sound system inside the bus so you could broadcast to one another over the roar of the engine and the road. You could also broadcast over a tape mechanism so that you said something, then heard your own voice a second later in variable lag and could rap off of that if you wanted to. Or you could put on earphones and rap simultaneously off sounds from outside, coming in one ear, and sounds from inside, your own sounds, coming in the other ear. There was going to be no goddamn sound on that whole trip, outside the bus, inside the bus, or inside your own freaking larynx, that you couldn't tune in on and rap off of.

"The painting job, meanwhile, with everybody pitching in in a frenzy of primary colors, yellow, oranges, blues, reds, was sloppy as hell, except for the parts Roy Seburn did, which were nice manic mandalas. Well, it was sloppy, but one thing you had to say for it; it was freaking lurid. The manifest, the destination sign in the front, read: "Furthur," with two u's."

Here's a picture, from the Key-Z site, of the current incarnation of the bus.

Other buses in rock music lyrics include the Who's "Magic Bus" and the Beatles' "Magical Mystery Tour."


I Got On

Being "on the bus" means, well, let's hear Kesey explain it (via Tom Wolfe):
"`There are going to be times,' says Kesey, `when we can't wait for somebody. Now you're either on the bus or off the bus. If you're on the bus, and you get left behind, then you'll find it again. If you're off the bus in the first place--then it won't make a damn.' And nobody had to have it spelled out for them. Everything was becoming allegorical, understood by the group mind, and especially this: `You're either on the bus...or off the bus." (Wolfe: The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, p. 74)

Entry for "On the Bus" from Skeleton Key.



"Little by little, Owsley's history seeped out. He was 30 years old, although he looked younger, and he had a huge sonorous name: Augustus Owsley Stanley III. His grandfather was a United States Senator from Kentucky. Owsley apparently had had a somewhat hungup time as a boy, going from prep school to prep school and then to a public high school, dropping out of that, but getting into the University of Virginia School of Engineering, apparently because of his flair for sciences, then dropping out of that. He finally wound up enrolling in the University of California, in Berkeley, where he hooked up with a hip, good-looking chemistry major named Melissa. They dropped out of the University and Owsley set up his first acid factory at 1647 Virginia Street, Berkeley." (Wolfe: The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, p. 188.)

Wolfe goes on to tell of the quality of Owsley's LSD, renowned world-wide, and of its influence on The Beatles:

"It was in this head world that the...Beatles first took LSD. Now, just to get ahead of the story a bit--after Owsley hooked up with Kesey and the Pranksters, he began a musical group called the Grateful Dead. Through the Dead's experience with the Pranksters was born the sound known as "acid rock." And it was that sound that the Beatles picked up on, after they started taking acid, to do a famous series of acid-rock record albums, Revolver, Rubber Soul, and Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts' Club Band. Early in 1967 the Beatles got a fabulous idea. They got hold of a huge school bus and piled into it with thirty-nine friends and drove and wove across the British countryside, zonked out of their gourds. They were going to...make a movie." (Wolfe, p. 189)



Often written as "Skippin' through the lily fields."


Never-ever land

A more-or-less direct reference to "Never-Never Land", from Sir James Matthew Barrie's Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up. According to Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi's The Dictionary of Imaginary Places (HBJ, 1980), "...visitors can be taken to Never-Never Land by a never-aging boy, Peter Pan, who refuses to grow up and claims to have run away the day he was born." (p. 263)

Their minds remained unbended

A letter from Jack Legate to John Scott, dated 3/18/88 states that this line
"...more or less alludes back to:
MINDBENDER (performed in early 1966; on the 11/3/65 E