Self Defense

Lyrics: Robert Hunter
Music: Mickey Hart, Bob Weir

Played by Mickey Hart and Bembe Orisha in 2002, and then taken up by The Dead in 2003-- maybe somewhat modified? According to Mickey Hart "I wrote it with Hunter, and Bob wrote the bridge."

I can't tell you nothing except for what I've said
Shut down by exhaustion, just want to go to bed
No, I don't expect to sleep, just beg to be excused
I don't mean to dump on you, just need to sing the blues

I was from Orlando West, the good side of the town (note 1)
You lived in Mandelaville, I guess you've been around
Working in the gold mine, over in the rand
Hanging in the Shabine, when time was on your hands

It makes no difference if I'm wrong or if I'm right
I've got no self defense, I've got no will to fight
If they are unable to see it through my eyes
I'll plead my case to angels in the court of paradise
I'll plead my case to angels in the court of paradise

Soweto in the summer heat, Soweto in the rain
Tin shack down in shanty town, down on Kliptown lane
You could barely hide your smile, inflicting pointless pain
Sympathy is not your style, that much at least is plain

I can keep from crying by staring straight ahead
I can keep from dying by pretending that I'm dead
To all the tender feelings that I still have for you
Despite the double dealings that you have put me through

It makes no difference if I'm wrong or if I'm right
I've got no self defense, I've got no will to fight
If you are unable to see it through my eyes
I'll plead my case to angels in the court of paradise
I'll plead my case to angels in the court of paradise

It makes no difference now, except for when it does
All the things our love could be were never what it was
Starting from your pick-up line until the last goodbye
None of it makes any sense, no point to even try

Now if I cop to self defense, no jury would convict
If they have a notion of pain that you inflict
If they are unable to see it through my eyes
I'll plead my case to angels in the court of paradise

It makes no difference if I'm wrong or if I'm right
I've got no self defense, I've got no will to fight
If you are unable to see it through my eyes
I'll plead my case to angels in the court of paradise
I'll plead my case to angels in the court of paradise
I'll plead my case to angels in the court of paradise
I'll plead my case to angels in the court of paradise
I'll plead my case to angels in the court of paradise
[etc]
Notes
(1) the places mentioned in this song are all in or near Soweto, the township near Johannesburg in South Africa. Orlando West is the suburb of Soweto where many of the leaders of the African National Congress live. Mandelaville was the site of a squatter camp, removed in 2002 by the city council. Kliptown is where anti-apartheid organisations signed the Freedom Charter in 1955, but also the site of squatter camps. Shabine is another name for a bar.


"The Dead" Concert Recordings
 
Other Recordings
     Date Album Recorded By
     2004 Bonnaroo 2004 The Dead

 


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