Eight Below Zero

Lyrics: Robert Hunter
Music: Roland, Kimock

A Hunter lyric recorded by Zero.

Eight below zero, too cold to snow (note1)
Eight below zero, nowhere to go
Oaks and the elms around Washington Square
Stark and contorted, twisted and bare
Shadows of twilight, lowering quick
Sullen as madness, brooding and thick
Bitter chill tears turns to ice if you cry
This is the city where dreams come to die

Fifth and MacDougal, crossing the street
Last rose of summer I happened to meet
She greeted my face with the back of her hand
I checked it for blood but made no reprimand
"Been a long time," I said nonchantly
She said "June 21st, nineteen seventy three" (note2)
In a voice with inflections I've heard in my dreams
Where a long time ago's not so long as it seems

Eight below zero, too cold to snow
Eight below zero, nowhere to go
Eight below zero, face to the wind
It must have been written I'd see you again

"I'll buy you some coffee," I said "come inside
Tell me who's living and tell me who's died
Whatever happened to what-was-his-name?"
"Like all of the rest, he went back where he came"
I asked how it happened that she still remained
She laughed without humor, "I'd ask you the same
You climbed up the ladder, stepped off the top
You never were someone who knew when to stop"

"I'll stop when I'm buried," I said in reply
And ordered two pieces of blueberry pie
She picked out the berries, neglected the crust
"Like you," she said, "I never knew who to trust
We never knew when and we never knew how
We never got cheated, but look at us now
You got protection, your gamble paid off
But the fact you came back shows it wasn't enough"


"You're talking in riddles," I said out of spite (note1)
But deep in my heart I could see she was right
"I saw your last picture," she said, "it was good
It isn't my fault no one else understood"
She rolled up the crust in a tight little ball
Missed me by inches, it stuck on the wall
She said "leave me alone and go do what you do
I got problems enough of my own without you"

"It's eight below zero and too cold to snow ..."
Catching her drift, I made motions to go
But she stuck out her foot, my balance collapsed
Fell to my knees with my head in her lap
I made up my mind to leave it right there
Rightly or wrongly, I didn't much care
Familiar perfume from the lap of her dress
Kingdoms have fallen defending much less

(1) these verses are not on the Zero recording
(2) Zero sing 1983 not 1973

     Date Album Recorded By
     1997 Zero Zero

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


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