"We're the life on Mars"

The Annotated "Childhood's End"

An installment in The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics.
By David Dodd
Kraemer Family Library
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (The opinions expressed are those of the author, not of the University of Colorado.) Copyright notice; © 1995,1996, David Dodd
"Childhood's End"
Words and music by Phil Lesh

"Childhood's End"

Musical details:

Not recorded on an official release.

First performance: July 20, 1994, at Deer Creek Music Center, Noblesville, Indiana. "Childhood's End appeared in the first set, following "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again," and preceding "Don't Ease Me In." Also appearing for the first time in this show was "Matilda."

Songbook availability:

Lesh discusses the song briefly in an interview with Blair Jackson in Dupree's Diamond News, "In Phil We Trust: A Conversation." (Spring 1994, pp. 12-22) He states that "Childhood's End" is only the second song for which he wrote the lyrics, the other being "No Left Turn Unstoned," which he says he can't even listen to anymore.

The song's title is reminiscent of the Arthur C. Clarke 1953 novel. In the interview cited above, (p. 17), this exchange takes place:

Jackson: Like the Arthur C. Clarke novel Childhood's End?
Lesh: Yeah, although it has nothing to do with that.

between the angels and the deep blue sea

A new take on the old expression "between the devil and the deep blue sea," which carries the meaning, roughly, of "between a rock and a hard place."

The first recorded use of the expression, according toThe Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs (3rd ed.), was in Bartholemew Robinson's 1621 work Adagia in Latine and English.:

"Betwixt the Deuill and the dead sea."
This version of the saying was modified over the years into the familiar expression.

Perhaps the best known use of the phrase in popular song is in Gram Parsons' "Return of the Grievous Angel" (1974):

And I saw my devil,
And I saw my deep blue sea...

River run deep

Reminiscent of the first line of James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake:
"riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs."

Keywords: @river
DeadBase code: [CHIL]
First posted: February 16, 1997