Lyrics: Robert Hunter
Music: Jerry Garcia

I told Althea I was feeling lost
Lacking in some direction
Althea told me upon scrutiny
That my back might need protection
I told Althea that treachery
Was tearing me limb from limb
Althea told me, now cool down boy
Settle back easy, Jim (note 1)

You may be Saturday's child all grown
Moving with a pinch of grace
You may be a clown in the burying ground (note 2)
Or just another pretty face
You may be the fate of Ophelia
Sleeping and perchance to dream
Honest to the point of recklessness (note 3)
Self-centred to the extreme

Ain't nobody messin' with you but you
Your friends are getting most concerned
Loose with the truth, maybe its your fire
Baby, I hope you don't get burned
When the smoke has cleared, she said
That's what she said to me
You're gonna want a bed to lay your head
And a little sympathy

There are things you can replace
And others you cannot
The time has come to weigh those things
This space is gettin' hot
You know this space is gettin' hot

I told Althea, I'm a roving sign
That I was born to be a bachelor
Althea told me, OK that's fine
So now I'm trying to catch her
Can't talk to you without talking to me (note 4)
We're guilty of the same old thing
Thinking a lot about less and less
And forgetting the love we bring
(1) Garcia sometimes sang "Settle down easy, Jim". (thanks to Gene Baran for pointing this out)
(2) Garcia sometimes sang "You may be a clown on a burial ground". (thanks to Chris Jones for pointing this out)
(3) Garcia sang "self-centered to the point of innocence" in a studio rehearsal, and in early live versions of the song (thanks to Joek Roex for pointing this out). He also mixed up the order of the verses, for example:
I told Althea I was feeling lost ...
You may be the fate of Ophelia ...

I told Althea that treachery ...
When the smoke has cleared, she said ...

You may be Saturday's child all grown ...
Ain't nobody messin' with you but you ...
(4) Hunter's lyrics in "Box Of Rain" are "Can't talk to me without talking to you" but Garcia sang it the other way round

Grateful Dead Recordings
     Date Album
     31 Oct 1979 Road Trips Volume 1, Number 1
      5 Nov 1979 Road Trips Full Show: Spectrum 11/5/79
      1 Dec 1979 30 Days Of The Dead (2022)
      3 Dec 1979 Dave's Picks Vol 31
     studio 1980 Go To Heaven
     6 May 1980 Road Trips Volume 3, Number 4
     16 May 1980 Go To Nassau (note e)
      3 Sep 1980 Download Series Vol 7
     23 Oct 1980 Go To Heaven (note a)
     9 Mar 1981 In And Out Of The Garden
     14 Mar 1981 30 Days Of The Dead (2010)
     16 May 1981 30 Trips Around The Sun
      5 Apr 1982 Road Trips Volume 4, Number 4
      7 Aug 1982 Dick's Picks Vol 32
      9 Sep 1982 30 Days Of The Dead (2015)
     4 Sep 1983 30 Days Of The Dead (2022)
     14 Oct 1983 Dick's Picks Vol 6
     15 Mar 1990 Without A Net (note b)
      1 Apr 1990 Spring 1990 (The Other One)
     19 Jul 1990 Dave's Picks Volume 40
     20 Mar 1992 30 Trips Around The Sun (note c)
      1 Oct 1994 30 Trips Around The Sun
      5 Jul 2015 Fare Thee Well (CD and DVD) (note d)
(Plus live recordings by The Dead, Furthur, Dead & Company, Ratdog, Phil Lesh & Friends etc not listed here. See Grateful Dead Family Discography for a full list.)
Other Recordings
     Date Album Recorded By
     1997 Fire On The Mountain Vol 2 Reggae Celebrates The Grateful Dead (Culture)
     1997 Pickin' On The Grateful Dead David West et al
     2000 Crazy Fingers The Grass Is Dead
     2010 Seattle Peace Concert Ultraviolet Uforia
     2010 Dec 31 2010, St Louis, MO Yonder Mountain String Band (note f)
     23 Jul 2011 Jerry Jams for Rex II Yonder Mountain String Band
     2012 May 3 2012 New Orleans LA Chris Robinson Brotherhood (note f)
     2013 Keys Keller Willams
      7 Dec 2013 Dos Grateful Grass
     2015 Twangin' The Dead Matt Rae
     2015 Songs Of Their Own Strngefolk
     2016 Day Of The Dead Winton Marsalis, Kodiak Blue and Shura

(a) issued as a bonus track on the version in the box set Beyond Description (1973-1990)
(b) also on Terrapin Station (Limited Edition)
(c) also on the compilation 30 Trips Around The Sun: The Definitive Live Story 1965-1995
(d) also on the compilation Best Of Fare Thee Well.
(e) also on the Long Strange Trip Soundtrack
(f) The list above includes only one illustrative example of the series of live recordings by these artists. For a full list see the Grateful Dead Family Discography.
(g) also on 30 Days Of The Dead (2015)

Further Information
For an online discussion of the lyrics to this song see the
deadsongs.vue conference on The Well.
For more information on recordings see Matt Schofield's Grateful Dead Family Discography
For information on references in the lyrics see David Dodd's Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
For David Dodd's discussion of this song on see Greatest Stories Ever Told
For online chords and TAB see
For sheet music, see:
          Grateful Dead Anthology Volume 2 (piano arrangement)
          Without A Net Songbook (piano arrangement)
          Garcia/Hunter Songbook (vocal line and chords/TAB)

(8) the sheet music in "Grateful Dead Anthology Volume 2" misses out the second page of the music (it is correct in the "Without A Net" songbook)


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