Cold Rain And Snow

Lyrics: Traditional
Music: Traditional

One of the songs played from the earliest days of the Grateful Dead. Jerry Garcia mixed up the order of the verses, but this is the basic structure:

Well she's coming down the stairs, combing back her yellow hair (note 1)
And I ain't gonna be treated this-a-way
This-a-way
And I ain't gonna be treated this-a-way

Well she went up to her room and she sang a fateful tune (note 2)
And I'm going where those chilly winds don't blow
Winds don't blow
And I'm going where those chilly winds don't blow

Well I married me a wife, she's been trouble all my life (note 3)
Run me out in the cold rain and snow
Rain and snow
Run me out in the cold rain and snow
Notes
(1) Phil Lesh sometimes sings "... auburn hair" with Phil & Friends
(2) in some versions, it sounds as if Jerry sings "...sang a faithful tune." But he clearly sings "fateful" in the early studio versions, and that is closer to the traditional versions of this song. Indeed, in some early versions (eg 16 July 1966), Jerry sang "... where she met her fatal doom"
(3) Phil sings "I married me a wife, I love her more than life" with Phil & Friends

Grateful Dead Recordings
     Date Album
     studio Jun 1966 Birth Of The Dead (note a)
     studio Jun 1966 Birth Of The Dead (instrumental) (note a)
     studio 1967 Grateful Dead (first album)
     12 Dec 1969 Dave's Picks Volume 10
     18 Jan 1970 Download Series Vol 2
      2 Feb 1970 Dave's Picks Volume 6
     28 Dec 1970 30 Days Of The Dead (2010)
     29 Apr 1971 Ladies And Gentlemen ... The Grateful Dead
     22 Oct 1971 Dave's Picks Volume 3
     26 Oct 1971 Download Series Vol 3
     17 Apr 1972 Europe '72 - The Complete Recordings
     24 May 1972 Steppin' Out with the Grateful Dead: England '72 (note b)
     28 Feb 1973 Dick's Picks Vol 28
      2 Dec 1973 Dick's Picks Vol 14
     20 Oct 1974 Steal Your Face
      9 Jun 1976 Road Trips Volume 4, Number 5
     28 Sep 1976 Dick's Picks Vol 20
      3 Feb 1978 Dick's Picks Vol 18
     11 May 1978 Dick's Picks Vol 25
     26 Dec 1979 Dick's Picks Vol 5
      6 Apr 1982 Road Trips Volume 4, Number 4
      1 Nov 1985 Dick's Picks Vol 21
     31 Dec 1987 Ticket To New Year's (video/DVD only)
      4 Jul 1989 Truckin' Up To Buffalo (DVD & CD soundtrack)
     14 Mar 1990 Spring 1990 (The Other One)
     28 Mar 1990 Spring 1990 (The Other One)
     16 Sep 1990 Dick's Picks Vol 9
     14 Jun 1991 View From The Vault II (video/DVD & CD soundtrack)
 
Other Recordings
     Date Album Recorded By
      1989 Fresh Tracks In Real Time Tom Constanten
      1992 Nightfall Of Diamonds Tom Constanten
      1995 Eternity Blue Henry Kaiser (note c)
      2000 Grateful Dreams Tom Constanten
      2002 88 Keys To Tomorrow Tom Constanten
     16 Jun 2004 Mick's Picks, Volume 3 Jefferson Starship (with Tom Constanten)
      2006 Moved To Stanleyville Tom Constanten and Ken Foust

Notes
(a) originally released as part of the Rhino box set The Golden Road (1965-1973)
(b) also on the box set Europe '72 - The Complete Recordings
(c) originally from the album "Hope You Like Our New Direction"


Roots
Jerry Garcia seems to have learnt this from Obray Ramsey's 1960s album "Folksongs From The Three Laurels." In a 1967 interview with Larry Miller, he said: "the song is a traditional song...it's a [framework] ballad taken from Obray Ramsey, and earlier from Rufus Crisp I think." Ramsey's lyrics were:
Well I married me a wife, she gave me trouble all of my life
Ran me out in the cold rain and snow
Rain and snow, oh Lord
Ran me out in the cold rain and snow

Well she came down the stairs, combing back her long yellow hair
And her cheeks were as red as the rose
As the rose
And her cheeks were as red as the rose

Well I did all I could do, trying to get along with you
And I'm not gonna treated this a-way
This a-way, oh Lord
And I'm not gonna treated this a-way

Well she came in the room, where she met her fatal doom
And I'm not gonna treated this a-way
This a-way, oh Lord
And I'm not gonna treated this way
Ramsey's LP notes credit Cecil Sharp, who collected the first verse only from Mrs. Tom Rice at Big Laurel, NC August 18, 1916.

Patrick Blackman has done a lot of research on the origins of the song, and includes a quote from liner notes written by John Cohen for the Smithsonian Folkways album "Dark Holler: Old Love Songs and Ballads", which includes a Dillard Chandler recording of "Cold Rain and Snow":
"Berzilla Wallin, who also sings the song, explains: 'Well, I learned it from an old lady which says she was at the hanging of - which was supposed to be the hanging, but they didn't hang him. They give him 99 long years for the killing of his wife... I heard the song from her in 1911. She was in her 50's at that time. It did happen in her girlhood ... when she was a young girl... She lived right here around in Madison County. It happened here between Marshall and Burnsville; that's where they did their hanging at that time - at Burnsville, North Carolina. That's all I know, except they didn't hang the man.'

"The initial verses of this song resemble Grayson and Whitter's 'Never As Fast As I Have Been', Buell Kazee's 'Sporting Bachelors' and the song in Alan Lomax's Folk Song USA titled 'Sporting Bachelors'"
Blackman concludes that the song was a ballad written about a murder that actually happened in Madison County, probably in the 12870's, albeit incorporating some references to other traditional songs.