Ivory Wheels/Rosewood Track

Lyrics: Robert Hunter
Music: Jerry Garcia

This is the fifth song in Robert Hunter's Terrapin Station Suite. Ivory Wheels was never played by the Grateful Dead. Hunter himself recorded it on his LP "Jack O' Roses" (never issued as a CD).

This is the version in Box Of Rain and as Hunter recorded it on the LP Jack O'Roses. See below for a slightly different 1978 version.

Ivory wheels on a rosewood track
Take us back again and again to Terrapin (note 1)

Smokestack thunder - pay the ticket price
Clock in the sky says quarter to twice - we roll again

Hello, good soldier, where you been?
Did you take the wrong way round to get to Terrapin?

Some for reasons great or small
Rise, climb, fall, to get to Terrapin

The demon's daughter used to lay for gin
In a shack way back on the skirts of the fens of Terrapin

The demon himself got drunk all night
Collapsed at the sunrise service - he was very tight

Captain Billy Lyon from Louisiana low
Used to chase a bayou girl through here named Peggy-o

Some say he died of love for Peggy-o
Others say it was the devil himself laid Billy low

Some for reasons known but to them
Rise, climb, fall, to get to Terrapin

One-eyed sailor with a Cheshire grin
That must be the Jack O'Roses bound for Terrapin

Chasing that lady-o through the bayou
Swore to God in lightning storm he'd catch her, too

Fortune dealt him such a straight high hand
He saw no reason not to trust it more, and retrieved her fan

The lions looked up in surprise
But they backed right off when they saw the madness in his eyes

Venus rises from the sea
On the back of a mighty Terrapin with a coral fan

Throws that fan to the diamond beach
Always a little out of reach - but try again

Some for reasons great or small
Rise, climb, fall, to get to Terrapin
Notes
(1) In his 1980 recording, Hunter sang: "Quick, Jack, take us back to Terrapin."

There's a typescript of an earlier version which was also sung by Hunter in 1978. This version has minor variations to the lyrics, marked in italics below. The typescript has annotations by Garcia seemingly showing which verses he had picked.
Ivory wheels on a rosewood track
With a click clack that takes us back to Terrapin
Long John Silver at the wheel, you bet
That deuce of a Staggerlee in the firebox pouring sweat


Smokestack thunder - pay the ticket price
Clock in the sky says quarter to twice, we roll again
Hello soldier, where you been?
Musta took the long way round to get to Terrapin

Some for reasons great or small
Rise, climb, fall, to get to Terrapin

The deacon's daughter used to lay for gin
In a shack way back on the skirts of the fens of Terrapin
The deacon himself dealt all the night
Collapsed at the sunrise service, he was very tight

Cap'n Billy Lyon from Louisiana low
Used to chase a bayou girl through here named Peggy-o
Musta made pretty good time between
Fennario and Delyon's club down in New Orleans


Some say he died of love for Peggy-o
But I believe it was Stagger layed Billy low

One-eyed sailor with a Cheshire grin
That must be the Jack O'Roses bound for Terrapin
Chasing that Peggy Sue through the bayou
Swore to God in a lightning storm he'd catch her too

Fortune dealt him such a straight high hand
He saw no reason not to trust it more, and retrieved her fan
The lions looked up in surprise
But they backed right off when they saw the madness in his eyes

Some for reasons known but to them
Rise, climb, crawl, to get to Terrapin

Venus rises from the sea
On the back of a mighty Terrapin with a coral fan
Tosses that fan to the diamond beach
Always a little bit out of reach, but try again

Some for reasons great or small
Rise, climb, fall, to get to Terrapin
The verses Garcia picked were:
Ivory wheels on a rosewood track
With a click clack that takes us back to Terrapin
Hello soldier, where you been?
Musta took the long way round to get to Terrapin

Some for reasons great or small
Rise, climb, fall, to get to Terrapin

Cap'n Billy Lyon from Louisiana low
Used to chase a bayou girl through here named Peggy-o
Musta made pretty good time between
Fennario and Delyon's club down in New Orleans

One-eyed sailor with a Cheshire grin (note a)
That must be the Jack O'Roses bound for Terrapin
Chasing that Peggy Sue through the bayou
Swore to God in a lightning storm he'd catch her too

Some for reasons known but to them
Rise, climb, crawl, to get to Terrapin

Venus rises from the sea
On the back of a mighty Terrapin with a coral fan
Tosses that fan to the diamond beach
Always a little bit out of reach, but try again
Notes
(a) Garcia indicated he wasn't sure whether to include this verse. It's provisionally labelled verse 3, but the next verse is marked as verse 4, or verse 3 if the previous one was omitted

Recordings
     Date Album Recorded By
     1980 Jack O'Roses Robert Hunter


Further Information
For more information on recordings see Matt Schofield's Grateful Dead Family Discography

 


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