"Light out singing I'll walk you in the morning sunshine..."

The Annotated "Sugar Magnolia"

An installment in The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics.
By David Dodd
1997-98 Research Associate, Music Dept., University of California, Santa Cruz
"Sugar Magnolia/Sunshine Daydream"
Words by Robert Hunter and Robert Weir

Sugar Magnolia blossom's blooming
Head's all empty and I don't care
Saw my baby down by the river
Knew she'd have to come up soon for air

Sweet blossom come on under the willow
We can have high times if you'll abide
We can discover the wonders of nature
Rolling in the rushes down by the riverside

She's got everything delightful
She's got everything I need
Takes the wheel when I'm seeing double
Pays my ticket when I speed

She come skimming through rays of violet
She can wade in a drop of dew
She don't come and I don't follow
Waits backstage while I sing to you

She can dance a Cajun rhythm
Jump like a Willys in four wheel drive
She's a summer love in the spring, fall and winter
She can make happy any man alive

Sugar magnolia
Ringin' that blue bell
Caught up in sunlight
Come on out singing
I'll walk you in the sunshine
Come on honey, come along with me

She's got everything delightful
She's got everything I need
A breeze in the pines in the summer night moonlight
Crazy in the sunlight yes indeed

Sometimes when the cuckoo's crying
When the moon is halfway down
Sometimes when the night is dying
I take me out and I wander round
I wander round

Sunshine daydream
Walk you the tall trees
Going where the wind goes
Blooming like a red rose
Breathing more freely
Light out singing
I'll walk you in the morning sunshine
Sunshine daydream
Walk you in the sunshine

"Sugar Magnolia"

Recorded on

Covered by the Pop-O-Pies on Joe's Third Album (Subterranean Sub52).

First performance: June 7, 1970 at the Fillmore West in San Francisco. "Sugar Magnolia" came out of a drum solo in the second set, and was followed by a jam on "Louie Louie."

A note on performance practice: the band often divided the song into two distinct entities, "Sugar Magnolia," and "Sunshine Daydream." The space between these parts could be as brief as the space of several beats; could frame a set, as in the closing of Winterland; or be as long as a week, in the case of the performance occurring in the week of Bill Graham's death, when the "Sunshine Daydream" came during the Polo Field concert in Golden Gate Park a week after the band opened a show with "Sugar Magnolia" at the Oakland Coliseum Arena.

She don't come and I don't follow

Compare the lines from the folk song, "Sourwood Mountain"
"I got a girl in the head of the hollow,
She won't come and I won't call 'er." (Botkin, p. 897)


This note from a reader:
Subject: Annotated GD lyrics
Date: Tue, 28 Apr 1998 11:39:31 -0500


In reference to "Sugar Magnolia"... the eighth line of the song is "rolling in the rushes down by the riverside". You have links from Magnolia and Rose to their picture, but not to rush, a type of marsh plant that the song seems to be referencing.

Here is the main entry from Merriam-Websters online dictionary (www.m-w.com):

Etymology: Middle English, from Old English rysc; akin to Middle High German rusch rush, Lithuanian regzti to knit
Date: before 12th century
any of various monocotyledonous often tufted marsh plants (as of the genera Juncus and Scirpus of the family Juncaceae, the rush family) with cylindrical often hollow stems which are used in bottoming chairs and plaiting mats
Hope this helps...

David Kudrav
dkudrav@adtran.com -- work
dkudrav@eng.ua.edu -- everything else
"May whatever god you believe in have mercy on your soul"--Q

And another note from a reader:

Date: Mon, 28 May 2001
EBrown1027@aol.com wrote:

Dear Mr. Dodd,

Your site is wonderful, and greatly appreciated by the new generation of Deadheads.

I was listening to Sugar Magnolia one day while reading J.R.R Tolkien's Fellowship of the Ring, and it occurred to me how much the girl being sung about is like the character Goldberry in the novel. She is described in the following verses.

I had an errand there: gathering water lilies
green leaves and lilies white to please my pretty lady
the last ere the year's end to keep them from the winter
to flower by her pretty feet til the snows are melted
Each year at summer's end I go to find them for her
in a wide pool, deep and clear, far down Withywindle
there they open first in spring and there they linger latest
By that pool long ago I found the River-daughter
fair young Goldberry, sitting in the rushes
Sweet was her singing then, and her heart was beating.

It seemed especially similar to the line "Saw my baby down by the river" as well as "Rolling in the rushes; Down by the riverside". Hope this helps you, and keep up the great work!

Emily Brown


photo of Willys Made by the Overland Automotive Company, this jeep-type vehicle is no longer in production.

This note from a reader:

Dear Mr. Dodd:

Just happened upon your amazing site while off surfing a fabulous trip of strings on the web. Thought I might be able to contribute a nugget of info. Re: Sugar Magnolia, "jump like a Willys in four wheel drive". . . Always one of my favorite lyrics for its obscura. When the Willy's jeep first came out, there was some type of maneuver, or trick, that an experienced driver could do to make the vehicle actually "leap", jump, or catch air, somehow. details are sketchy, but there was an article in Smithsonian magazine which refers to the idea, and has a great picture of an airborne jeep to boot. I haven't done much research on this one, but I've seen the "jumping" trick with the Willy's jeep referenced a few other times. (in WWII histories) I can't however, determine how it was done, or what the origin of the story was. Perhaps it was a clever marketing ploy. Truly a wonderful piece of ephemera.

Your website may be the coolest free thing I've ever seen. I'm certainly going to buy the book. lead on. regards

Mike Mnichowicz
Milwaukee, WI

I checked into the article Mike mentions, and it appeared in the November 1992 Smithsonian, for anyone interested in pursuing the details.

First posted: August 30, 1995
Last revised: May 29, 2001