Just A Little Light

Lyrics: John Barlow
Music: Brent Mydland

John Perry Barlow had this to say in his book "Mother American Night":

"Brent and I has afternoons where we wrote four or five songs together in his house in Martinez in the East Bay. It absolutely helped that he was a piano player, but I also had complete faith in his ability to take my lyrics and sing them in the melody I had in mind.

"That was what happened on "Just A Little Light," which is about the gloom that seemed to be gathering around Brent and Jerry and everything that was then going on backstage at Dead shows. I wanted people to know that there was also still a light left in the world. I was writing about what happens to everyone after a while. Like Hunter's line in "Scarlet Begonias," "Once in a while you get shown the light / In the strangest of places if you look at it right." Although I wasn't consciously quoting that, it is one of my favorite Hunter lines."
Well there ain't nobody safer than someone who doesn't care
And it isn't even lonely when no-one's ever there
I had a lot of dreams once, but some of them came true
The honey's sometimes bitter when fortune falls on you
So you know I've been a soldier in the armies of the night
And I'll find the fatal error in what's otherwise all right
But now you're trembling like a sparrow, I will try with all my might
To give you just a little sweetness
Just a little light

I have always heard that virtue ought to be its own reward
But it never comes so easy when you're living by the sword
It's even harder to be heartless when you look at me that way
You're as mighty as the flower that will grow the stones away
Even though I've been a stranger full of irony and spite
Holding little but contempt for all things beautiful and bright
Something shines around you and it seems, to my delight
To give me just a little sweetness
Just a little light

It could be just another highway coiled up in the night
You could be just another white-tail, baby, stranded on my brights
There's a tingling recognition like the sound of distant thunder
And I begin to wonder if the love I've driven under won't ignite
Grateful Dead Recordings
     Date Album
     studio 1989 Built To Last (note 1)
     10 Jul 1989 Giants Stadium 1987, 1989, 1991 Boxed Set (note 4)
     18 Mar 1990 Spring 1990 (The Other One) (note 3)
     26 Mar 1990 Dozin' At The Knick (note 2)
      1 Apr 1990 Spring 1990 (The Other One)
Other Recordings
     Date Album Recorded By
     2018 Buckle Up Kids, Vol. 1 - The Music of Terrapin Crossroads Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band
(1) also on the compilation The Arista Years
(2) also on the box set Spring 1990
(3) also on 30 Days Of The Dead (2011)
(4) also on 30 Days Of The Dead (2016)

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:
          Built To Last Songbook (piano arrangment)


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