Jerry Garcia – Sugaree

I remember this song on the radio in the seventies. Probably the first Dead…or close to a Dead song I ever heard. This was off of Jerry Garcia’s first solo album. The song peaked at #94 in the Billboard 100 in 1972.

The Grateful Dead did this live many times…one of my favorite Garcia and Robert Hunter songs.

From Songfacts.

“Sugaree” is the stand-out song from the Garcia album, and it’s kind of confusing where to list it. Warner Bros. Records, at the time, sponsored solo albums by all of the Dead at the time; so along with Garcia, we have Bob Weir’s Ace and Mickey Hart’s Rolling Thunder. On the solo effort side, Garcia played every instrument except the drums on the entire album and did at least half of the writing as well. On the other hand – who are we kidding? – this is Jerry Garcia we’re talking about, and six of the tracks from this album eventually became Grateful Dead concert standards. Oh, heck, call it a Grateful Dead song, Jerry wouldn’t mind.

Speaking of almost-but-not-quite Grateful Dead albums, Jerry’s immediately previous work to this album was New Riders of the Purple Sage, with Mickey Hart, and co-starring Commander Cody (as in Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen) of “Hot Rod Lincoln” fame. Just thought we’d throw it in!

Other albums this song appears on are One from the Vault and Dick’s Picks Volume 3. “Sugaree” was even used in the 1996 promotion sampler A Glimpse of the Vault.

We can’t describe this song much better than the NME, who in 1976 wrote that it “rocks over the dust with the controlled menace of a swaying rattlesnake. By not quite pulling out the stops Garcia leaves the song ambiguity like the dealer with all the best cards, ace high stacked against his chest: ‘If that jubilee don’t come, maybe I’ll meet you on the run. The counterpoint of Robert Hunter’s words and the gentle handling of the coda, Phil Lesh providing simple but effectively raw bass lines, is a high spot demon trump.”

Sugaree

When they come to take you down When they bring that wagon ’round
When they come to call on you and drag your poor body down

[Chorus]
Just one thing I ask of you, just one thing for me
Please forget you knew my name, my darling Sugaree
Shake it, shake it sugaree, just don’t tell them that you know me
Shake it, shake it sugaree, just don’t tell them that you know me

You thought you was the cool fool and never could do no wrong
You had everything sewed up tight. How come you lay awake all night long

[Chorus]

Well in spite of all you gained you still had to stand out in the pouring rain
One last voice is calling you and I guess it’s time you go

[Chorus]

Well shake it up now Sugaree, I’ll meet you at the jubilee
And if that jubilee fall through, maybe I’ll meet you on the run

[Chorus]

The Grateful Dead

I’ve never been a Deadhead but I am envious of them. Unlike any other band…their music and fans belong in a special class. The fans are joined to an elusive club and a lot of them are really close. The band at one time was so accessible… more than any other band I’ve heard of… They have so much music to pick from…years and years of touring and recording. The band not only didn’t mind fans recording their concerts but set up a special place to record for a time. Led Zeppelin’s manager would have his goons smash fan’s recording equipment for doing that…other bands also.

They did not compromise…they did what they wanted to do and forget the rest. Top ten records? Nah…didn’t need them…didn’t have one until the 80s and still outdrew almost everyone. I’m happy they did have the one in the 80s…Touch of Grey…they really didn’t need it but it made the general public take notice. It was great in the 80s to see a cool anti-rock star Jerry Garcia with the Grateful Dead chugging away on MTV sounding better than the spandex idiots on the other videos at the time.

For me, I like their early seventies period a lot. Workingman’s Dead, American Beauty (which are two classic albums) From The Mars Hotel and a little later the adventurous Terrapin Station. I mostly like songs that are condensed down…hence why I was never really big on the long jams but I really respect the musicianship that went into them live. They could be playing folk, bluegrass, jazz and then switch on a dime to rock…and make it fit. To me, it was like a huge bus rolling down the road about to go off the cliff at any moment and then suddenly being jerked back on the road before the crash….sometimes it wasn’t but for the most part, it was pulled back just in time.

When Jerry died in 1995 I was sad. I didn’t know a whole a lot about him or the band…though I had their greatest hits in the early 80s…I knew enough to know someone and something special had gone too soon…I also regretted not being on that bus for a small ride anyway.

Songs I like:

Ripple, A Friend of the Devil, Mr. Charlie, Truckin, Uncle Johns Band (which I could listen on a tape loop for eons and eons), U.S. Blues, New Speedway Boogie, Casey Jones, Attics of My Life, Brokedown Palace, Box of Rain, Sugar Magnolia, Touch of Grey, Hell in a Bucket and a Garcia solo Sugaree…

There are many more I’m not remembering…