"Everyone in the room owns a part of the noose..."

The Annotated "Slipknot!"

An installment in The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics.
By David Dodd
1997-1998 Research Associate, Music Dept., University of California Santa Cruz.
Copyright notice
by Jerry Garcia


Recorded on

First performance: June 20, 1974, at the Omni in Atlanta, Georgia. "Slipknot" followed "Eyes of the World" and preceded "China Doll." The piece dropped in and out of regular rotation, but was played fairly frequently from 1989 on.


I have received frequent questions about possible words to this instrumental piece. As far as I knew, there were none.


This piece of mail arrived the other day from a reader:

Date: Sat, 01 Jun 96 20:03:29 -0700
From: dakota

I have some news for you. I was looking through your site and checked out "Slipknot!" It appears you have the wrong idea. Robert Hunter wrote lyrics for "Slipknot!" during the Blues For Allah sessions. Here they are:

"Slipknot!" By Robert Hunter

Beautiful lie
You can pray
You can pay
Till you're buried alive

Blackmailer blues
Everyone in the room
Owns a part of the noose
Slipknot gig
Slipknot gig
Slipknot gig

Did someone say
Help on the way
Well, I know
Yeah, I do
That there's help on the way

I assure you these lyrics are accurate and they were written by Robert Hunter. If you have any questions, or you plan to post them at your site, e-mail me at Dakota@calweb.com.

Intrigued, I emailed Hunter, and received the following reply:

Date: Mon, 3 Jun 1996 23:59:21 -0400
From: K9Luna@aol.com


most of the Blues for Allah material was written on the spot on the fly, while engineers stood by waiting to record the vocals. Those lyrics are my style and seem familiar - there were lots of throw-aways and I doubt not those were among them. There's always a taker for throw away pages, and I believe someone was collecting them, possibly Ramrod.


However, on the next day, Hunter wrote:

Date: Tue, 4 Jun 1996 21:04:29 -0400


the lines are, of course, rejects from "Help on the way" - do as you will with them. Slipknot Gig would be in the space of: I will stay/one more day

There's no cutting it out. But it's neither permanent nor serious.


So I'll leave the words and the exchange here as a record of what's what!

This note from a reader:

From: Tim Furlow [mailto:rastabear_420@yahoo.com]
Sent: Wednesday, June 25, 2003 2:21 AM
To: ddodd@mcflmail.org
Subject: slipknot

Dear David,
I've been a fan of your site for several years. I just wanted to let you know that the lyrics for slipknot are played at the june 19th 1976 show from Passaic NJ. Keep up the good work!

It also seems worth noting that Woody Guthrie wrote a hard-hitting song called "Slip Knot."

"Oh, did you ever see a man tie a slip knot, (2x)
Well I've seen it many a time, Lord, he winds and he winds
After thirteen times he's got him a slip knot.

Tell me will that slip knot slip, not it will not (2x)
Oh my brother was a slave, lord, he tried to escape
They left him there to rot on that slip knot

Tell me who makes the laws of that slip knot (2x)
Tell me who, yes, who is going down to the calaboose
To help that hangman string up that slip knot

I don't know who makes the laws of that slip knot (2x)
But the bones of many a man are whistling in the wind
Because we make our laws by that slip knot
Because we tie our laws by that slip knot."

And there is a Massachusetts band called Slipknot.

This note from a reader:

Date: Sat, 13 Jan 1996 10:33:26 -0500
From: Nick Zuccaro: ad985@yfn.ysu.edu
Subject: slipknot addition...

my personal theory about slipknot is that musically it resembles a knot... when they reach certain passages, the notes progress and go further, but after a certain point they seem to 'close in' on themselves, like a slipknot collapsing and coming undone...or in a sense of the song's repetition of trying to tie a knot that just won't tie....anyway, just my two cents about slipknot!......

Keywords: @instrumental
DeadBase code: [SLIP]
First posted: August 29, 1995
Last revised: June 26, 2003