Catfish John

Lyrics: Bob McDill, Allen Reynolds
Music: Bob McDill, Allen Reynolds

Played by Garcia both with Old And In The Way and with the JGB

Mama said, "Don't go near that river"
"Don't be hanging round old Catfish John"
Come the morning I'd always be there
Walking in his footsteps in the sweet Delta dawn

Take me back to another morning (note 1)
To a time so long ago
When the sweet magnolia blossomed (note 2)
Cotton fields were white as snow

Catfish John was a river hobo
Lived and died by the river's bend
Looking back I still remember
I was proud to be his friend


Born a slave in the town of Richmond (note 3)
Traded for a chestnut mare
Lord, he never spoke in anger
Though his load was hard to bear


Walking in his footsteps in the sweet Delta dawn
The lyrics above are for the version with Old And In The Way. There are minor differences in the version Jerry later recorded with his band:
(1) Jerry sang "Take me back ..." on Reflections
(2) Jerry sang "Where the sweet magnolia blossoms" on Reflections
(3) Jerry sang "... the town of Vicksburg" on Reflections

Grateful Dead Recordings
     (studio) fall 1976 Terrapin Station   (note 4)
Jerry Garcia Recordings
     Date Album Recorded By
      1 Oct 1973 Breakdown Old And In The Way (note 5) (note 6)
      8 Oct 1973 That High Lonesome Sound Old And In The Way (note 7)
      4 Nov 1973 Live At Sonoma State Old And In The Way
     31 Dec 1975 Garcia Live Volume 5 Jerry Garcia Band
     studio 1976 Reflections Jerry Garcia Band
     studio 1976 All Good Things (additional disc) Jerry Garcia Band
      13 Feb 1976 Garcia Live Volume 21 Jerry Garcia Band
     12 Nov 1976 Garcia Live Volume 17 Jerry Garcia Band
     29/30 Jul 1977 Pure Jerry: Theater 1839 Jerry Garcia Band
     18 Feb 1978 San Francisco Bay Area 1978 Jerry Garcia Band
     22 Mar 1978 Garcia Live Volume 4 Jerry Garcia Band
     28 Feb 1980 After Midnight Jerry Garcia Band
      1 Mar 1980 Garcia Live Volume 1 Jerry Garcia Band

(4) a studio outtake issued as a bonus track on the version in the box set Beyond Description (1973-1990)
(5) hidden track, which plays after the final track on the CD.
(6) also on the compilation The Best Of Jerry Garcia
(7) also included on Live At The Boarding House

Further Information
For more information on recordings see Matt Schofield's Grateful Dead Family Discography
For online chords and TAB see
For sheet music, see:
          Jerry Garcia Songbook (vocal line and chords)


Home | Find words/phrases| Find Song lyrics| Dead originals| Dead covers|