King Solomon's Marbles

(Stronger Than Dirt/Milkin' The Turkey)

Lyrics: [none]
Music: Lesh, Hart, Kreutzmann

This is an instrumental on the "Blues For Allah" album. There are inconsistencies over titles and authorship of the various components.

The original "Blues For Allah" LP listed two tracks:

     -   King Solomon's Marbles (Lesh)
     -   Stronger Than Dirt Or Milkin' The Turkey (Hart, Kreutzmann, Lesh)

The original CD of "Blues For Allah" lists the tracks differently:

     -   King Solomon's Marbles
        -   Part 1: Stronger Than Dirt
        -   Part 2: Milkin' The Turkey

(the CD doesn't say who wrote the music, though the "Grateful Dead Anthology II" songbook lists both Part 1 and Part 2 as by "Lesh-Hart-Kreutzmann")

The "One From The Vault" CD just lists

     -   King Solomon's Marbles (Lesh)

(what is played is the full suite as on "Blues For Allah")

The bonus disc with the box set "Beyond Description" lists it as part of a longer sequence

     -   Blues For Allah>King Solomon's Marbles>Drums>King Solomon's Marbles>Blues For Allah
     -   (with the King Solomon's Marbles sections credited to Hart/Kreutzmann/Lesh)

(what is played in the "King Solomon's Marbles" sections is an extended jam, based loosely around the main theme, though not - to my ears - including the "Stronger Than Dirt" quote)

The 1975 CD in the box set "30 Trips Around The Sun" lists it as

     -   Stronger Than Dirt/Milkin' The Turkey (Hart/Kreutzmann/Lesh)

(again, what is played is the full suite as on "Blues For Allah")

It seems simplest to regard this as one suite. But the components listed on the CD don't match up to what is played. "Stronger Than Dirt" is a quote from an old Ajax commercial, and the musical quote comes at the beginning of the second sub-track (as on the LP) (see also postscript below). I guess it really doesn't matter too much

Hank Harrison's "The Dead Book" reproduces a "handwriting sample" from Phil Lesh dating from 1962. It includes the words "Stronger Than Dirt" (in block capitals). The notes in the book say this "was an allusion to an Ajax scouring powder commercial of the day. Phil has mentioned that he often heard classical riffs in commercials and this is probably one of them."


Jason Wilder has pointed me to the Blues For Allah CD reissued in the box set "Beyond Description". This lists the tracks as:

     -   King Solomon's Marbles
        -   Part 1: Stronger Than Dirt (1.55) (Phil Lesh)
        -   Part 2: Milkin' The Turkey (3.25) (Mickey Hart/Bill Kreutzmann/Phil Lesh)

Jason also pointed to the essay by David Fricke in the "Beyond Description" booklet, which refers to:

" the compact acid-fusion of "Milkin' The Turkey," the second part of the furious instrumental compound "King Solomon's Marbles" (a title erroneously listed on the label and back cover of the original vinyl Allah as an entirely separate piece."
"Bassist Phil Lesh contributed the twisted rockin' bones on "Stronger than Dirt," the first half of "King Solomon's Marbles." (The subtitle comes from the quick nod, after a short, dazzling Garcia solo, to the theme music of the famous detergent commercial.)"
All this seems pretty definitive, and accords with the conclusions above. The only oddity is that the (1.55) track length listed on the CD puts the break right in the middle of the quote from the Ajax commercial, rather than after it as the title and the analysis in the booklet indicate.

As to the confusion over the labelling of the tracks on subsequent releases, as Jason Wilder put it to me "well, this is the Dead".

Grateful Dead Recordings
     Date Album
     studio 1975 Blues For Allah
     23 Mar 1975 Beyond Description: Bonus CD
     13 Aug 1975 One From The Vault
     28 Sep 1975 30 Trips Around The Sun
Other Recordings
     Date Album Recorded By
     1996 Blues For Allah Project Joe Gallant & Illuminati
     1998 Blue Light Rain Jazz Is Dead
     2016 Day Of The Dead Vijay Iyer

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


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