Blues For Allah

Lyrics: Robert Hunter
Music: Jerry Garcia

In "Box Of Rain" Robert Hunter notes:

"This lyric is a requiem for King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, a progressive and democratically inclined ruler (and, incidentally, a fan of the Grateful Dead) whose assassination in 1975 shocked us personally. The lyrics were printed in Arabic on the jacket of the Middle Eastern release of the album."
Arabian wind
The Needle's Eye is thin
The Ships of State sail on mirage
And drown in sand
Out in no man's land
Where Allah does command

What good is spilling blood?
It will not grow a thing
"Taste Eternity", the swords sing
Blues for Allah, Insh'Allah

They lie where they fall
There's nothing more to say
The desert stars are bright tonight
Let's meet as friends
The flower of Islam
The fruit of Abraham

The thousand stories
Have come round to one again
Arabian Night
Our gods pursue their fight
What fatal flowers of darkness
Bloom from seeds of light (note 1)

Bird of Paradise
Fly in the white sky
Blues for Allah, Insh'Allah

Let's see with our heart
These things our eyes have seen
And know the truth must still
Lie somewhere in between
Unusual Occurrences In The Desert (note 2)
Under eternity
Under eternity (note 3)
Under eternity blue (note 4)
Under eternity
Under eternity
Under eternity blue

Bird of Paradise
Fly in white sky
Blues for Allah, Insh'Allah
(1) In "Box Of Rain" Robert Hunter has "... spring from seeds of light"
(2) On the "Blues For Allah" album, the suite is subdivided into "Blues For Allah" itself, "Sand Castles And Glass Camels" and "Unusual Occurences In The Desert." The last is credited to Hunter/Garcia and the timings indicate it is the portion starting with "Under eternity".
(3) in a live performance in 1978, it sounds to me as if Robert Hunter sang "Under eternity/Utter eternity/Utter eternity blue"
(4) in a live performance in 1978, Robert Hunter sang "Lover return to me, soon"

Grateful Dead Recordings
     Date Album
     studio 1975 Blues For Allah
     23 Mar 1975 Beyond Description: Bonus CD
     13 Aug 1975 One From The Vault
(Plus live recordings by Furthur not listed here. See Grateful Dead Family Discography for a full list.)
Other Recordings
     Date Album Recorded By
     Oct 1990 Eternity Blue Henry Kaiser
     1996 Blues For Allah Joe Gallant and Illuminati
     2001 Great Sky River Jazz Is Dead
      2007 Dead Symphony Lee Johnson
     2009 Henry Kaiser Plays Dead Henry Kaiser Quartet

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 see Greatest Stories Ever Told
For sheet music, see:
          Grateful Dead Songbook Volume 2 (piano arrangement)
          Garcia/Hunter Songbook (vocal line and chords/TAB)


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