"Bigger than a drive-in movie, ooooo-eeee"

The Annotated "Picasso Moon"

An installment in The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics.
By Prof. Fred Lieberman's Muisc of the Dead course (Music 80N), Spring 1998, UCSC, and
David Dodd
Research Associate, Music Dept., University of California, Santa Cruz
Copyright notice
"Picasso Moon"
Words by John Perry Barlow, with Bob Weir and Bob Bralove; music by Bob Weir.
Copyright Ice Nine Publishing; used by permission.

South of Market in the land of ruin
You get all manner of action
Tinsel tigers in The Metal Room
Stalking satisfaction.
They got 'em packaged up for love and money
Tattooed tots and chrome spike bunnies
Check my conscience at the DMZ
And roll on in, gonna roll in it, honey
But I get a feelin like when big things collide
Like the crack before the thunder, like I really ought to hide
And here comes Metal Angel, she looks ready to ride;
& What's that she's tryin' to show me..?
What's that you're tryin' to show me..?

Picasso Moon, shattered light
Diamond bullets ripping up the night
Picasso Moon, liberate me,
From the middle of eternity,
Something hooks her little finger at me,
An' it's bigger than a drive-in movie, ooooo-eeee.
Bigger than a drive-in movie, ooooo-eeee.

Hangin' ten out on space and time
Redefining distance.
The next skull on your necklace is mine:
Cheap for such assistance
I had a job trading bits for pieces
We'd make wrinkles, advertise them as creases
Please, find my resignation enclosed,
Roll with it, roll with it, we gonna roll in it, honey..,
Dark Angel, What's botherin' you?
So strange, you'll do me all that you do
Dark Angel, you're makin' me blue..,
I guess it doesn't matter..,
I guess it doesn't matter...

[Second chorus:]
Picasso Moon, blinding ball,
Spinning fire, the lightning calls
Picasso Moon, fall into the sky
Rarin' out, I'm gonna testify
And stare a shout into that burning eye,
Bigger than a drive-in movie, oh my.
Bigger than a drive-in movie, oh my.

Strikes morning; the atomic dawn,
Scramble back to cover.
Quick, pop your mirrored sunglasses on,
My little leather-winged lover.
I see your face printed on my money,
Your blazin' ways really move me, honey..!
Heart of darkness, Yea-e-yea-e-e-hoo..,
Why'm I laughing? This ain't funny
Dark Angel, now just don't start..,
You'll break my spirit, wreck my heart
You must have a license for practisin' that art.
I don't presume to imagine.
I don't presume to imagine.

Picasso Moon, fractal flame
Blazing lace filling every frame
Picasso Moon, wheels within wheels
What's true when everything's real?
It's all new, I'm gonna scatter the seals
Bigger than a drive-in movie, for real.
Bigger than a drive-in movie, for real.

Picasso Moon, etc.

"Picasso Moon"

Written in Mill Valley, California, February -May, 1989.

Recorded on

First performance: April 28, 1989, at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre, Irvine, CA. "Picasso Moon" appeared in the first set, in the penultimate position, following "Ramble On Rose" and preceding "Bird Song". It remained in the repertoire thereafter.

South of Market

The area of San Francisco to the south of the main drag, Market Street. The area is notorious as a haven for junkies. The Mission District, immortalized in the Hunter/Garcia tune Mission In the Rain, is also south of Market, but there is little ambiguity here regarding the district sometimes known as SOMA.

Picasso Moon

An interview with Weir, included on a promotional CD for the Built to Last album, includes a hilarious retelling of the origin of this phrase, which just popped out of Phil Lesh's mouth one day while the band was sitting around in the studio: "Picasso moon. I don't know why I said that!" The phrase came back to haunt Weir, haunting him one day during a bike ride so that he nearly fell off his bike.

Deconstructing the little phrase allows almost too many references: to the famous artist himself, and to the moon, one of the band's favorite and oft-recurring symbols, in songs from "Terrapin Station" to "Standing on the Moon".


Resonates with the verse in "Dark Star":
"Mirror shatters
in formless
reflections of matter"

Hangin' ten

A reference to the surfing maneuver, in which a surfer is at the front of the board with all ten toes hanging over the front end.

I guess it doesn't matter...

Cf. the line in "(Walk Me Out In the) Morning Dew":
"I guess it doesn't matter anyway..."

Wheels within wheels

Compare the lines (and their source) in "Estimated Prophet":
Fire wheel burnin' in the air

First posted: May 7, 1998
Last revised: May 11, 1998