Jack Straw

Lyrics: Robert Hunter (note a)
Music: Bob Weir

We can share the women, we can share the wine
We can share what we got of yours, 'cause we done shared all of mine
Keep on rolling, just a mile to go
Keep on rolling, my old buddy, you're moving much too slow

[Jerry] (note e)x
I just jumped the watchman right outside the fence (note b)
Took his rings, four bucks in change, ain't that heaven sent
Hurts my ears to listen, Shannon, burns my eyes to see
Cut down a man in cold blood, Shannon, might as well be me

We used to play for silver now we play for life (note c)
And one's for sport, and one's for blood at the point of a knife
And now the die is shaken, now the die must fall
There ain't a winner in the game
He don't go home with all, not with all

Leaving Texas, fourth day of July
Sun so hot, the clouds so low, the eagles filled the sky
Catch the Detroit Lightning out of Santa Fe
The Great Northern out of Cheyenne, from sea to shining sea (note d)

[Jerry] (note e)
Gotta go to Tulsa, first train we can ride
Gotta settle one old score, one small point of pride
There ain't a place a man can hide, Shannon, will keep him from the sun
Ain't a bed can give us rest now, you keep us on the run

Jack Straw from Wichita cut his buddy down
And dug for him a shallow grave, and laid his body down
Half a mile from Tucson, by the morning light
One man gone and another to go
My old buddy you're moving much too slow

We can share the women we can share the wine
During the rehearsals when Keith Godchaux was joining the band, Bob Weir sang two rather different verses (thanks to Andrew Sonnabend for these):
We can jump the tollgate, save us fifty cents
I'd lend you my last dollar but it's already spent
We can jump the watchman right outside the fence
Leave his rings but take his change, now ain't that heaven sent

Ben Blue(?) from Tulsa, two men by his side
Come to even one old score, one small point of pride
Ain't no place a man can hide to keep him from the sun
Ain't no place Ben's gonna rest while Shannon's on the run
And on occasions in live performances Bob Weir sang:
I just jumped the tollgate, paid him fifty cents
Took his rings, left his chain, now ain't that heaven sent
(a) this is as listed in the sheet music, but I wonder if Weir wrote some of the lyrics. In interviews, Weir talks about writing the song after reading "Of Mice And Men," implying he did more than just set Hunter lyrics to music. And the lyrics in "Box Of Rain" has some sections in italics, which is used elsewhere to show someone else wrote part of the lyrics.
(b) In the version on Live '85 Robert Hunter sang "I just jumped the watchman, Jack Straw, right outside the fence". This would square with Jerry singing the parts voiced by Shannon and Bob singing the parts voiced by Jack Straw. (thanks to Kevin Hogan for pointing this out to me)
(c) at times in 1978-1981 Bob Weir sang "We used to play for acid now we play for Clive" and sometimes just "We used to play for silver now we play for Clive" (the reference is to Clive Davis, the boss of Arista Records)
(d) on at least one occasion, Bob Weir sang "Union Pacific out of Cheyenne ..." - which is more accurate. Thanks to Andrew Sonnabend for this information.
(e) in early versions, Bob rather than Jerry sang these two lines. It wasn't until 3 May 1972 in Paris and thereafter that Jerry started singing them.(Thanks to Aaron Donovan for identifying the date).

Grateful Dead Recordings

Dead-related Recordings

Covers By Other Artists

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 dead.net see Greatest Stories Ever Told
For online chords and TAB see www.rukind.com
For sheet music, see:
          Grateful Dead Anthology Volume 1 (piano arrangement)
          Hundred Year Hall songbook (guitar TAB)


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