The Song Remains

Lyrics: Robert Hunter
Music: Robert Hunter

A Robert Hunter song introduced on his solo tour in fall 1997. These are the lyrics as posted in Robert Hunter's journal in January 2003:

Salt on a songbird's tail
Black gull shadow on a tall white sail (note 1)
Page in a bookstore windowframe
Scrawled in wet cement: a lover's name

Four flights of stairs and then a door (note 2)
You can't remember what you came here for
Maybe it was fame, or just the waiting game
Penny for your pain, the song remains

The song remains
The song remains
The song remains
Like sunshine in the wake of a long hard rain

Knock on a hardwood door
Wait for awhile then knock once more (note 3)
Turn for to go and not return
Chalk it up to fate, you live and learn

Long faded carpet in the hall
Family portraits stare from every wall
Beneath the crucifix, something finally clicks
There's always someone else to take the fall

Say to the four winds blow
Maybe they hear you, I don't know
Say to your lover "Please don't go"
It's a long way home through the falling snow

Run, chase the songbird on the wing
In the fading hour of twilight hear it sing
As though this weary world were never lost to love
Like a promise from above the song remains


Oh for a mighty wind to rise (note 6)
Straight from the bowels of Paradise
Blow all the smoke from blackened skies
Reveal the dusk where stars of evening rise

Ramble through the rust red streets of dawn (note 5)
As one by one the stars are all withdrawn
Venus like a dew drop paling in the West
When all the rest are gone the song lives on


Come to the end of dreaming
Wake to a sky of blue (note 4)
Don't ask to know the meaning
It only means what it means to you

I never want your heart to break (note 6)
Lying in the midnight hour awake
Trying to forget days when Heaven met
The world below and sang for love's sweet sake
Earlier versions included some additional verses - eg this from 2 April 1998:
Girl on a skateboard sails on by
Smiles as sweet as the morning sky
Meant for the world, not just for you
As well you know by now, it has to do

Duck beneath an awning while the rain
Beats the bloody band and clears again
Elsewhere skies are blue, it only rains on you
But try not to explain, the song remains

The song remains
The song remains
The song remains
Like the whistle on a lonely night on a long, long train
(1) earlier versions had "... long white sail"
(2) earlier versions had "... Three flights of stairs ..." and not four
(3) the first versions of this line were "Knock again and wait some more"
(4) the first versions of this were "Wake to a dawn of blue"
(5) earlier versions of this line began "Stroll through ..." and "Wander through ..."
(6) these verses were not included in the first versions of the song (and the order of the other verses went: "Come to the end of dreaming ..." followed by "Stroll through the rust-red streets of dawn ...")

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


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