Jack O' Roses

Lyrics: Robert Hunter
Music: Jerry Garcia, [Brian Lesh]

This is the seventh song in Robert Hunter's Terrapin Station Suite. It was never played by the Grateful Dead, though Hunter credits the music to Jerry Garcia (note 1). Hunter himself recorded it on his LP "Jack O' Roses" (never issued as a CD).

It was sung by Brian Lesh with Phil Lesh and the Terrapin Family Band on 5 June 2013, with different music. More recently, it has been sung by Grahame Lesh in 2017.

What makes your sweet breast heave, my dear
your bright eyes fill with tears?
Did Jack O' Roses leave you here
those seven lonely years?

Had you fear he might be dead
unwept in some far land?
Or worse that love itself had fled
betrayed both heart and hand? (note 2)

Jack O' Roses with a fan
East of Eden turned
built his castles in the sand
and all their bridges burned (note 3)

Wait for him (note 4)
Don't take no other
no demon lover
who'll be gone at dawn
Did you throw your fan
too far this time?
Well, well, well ...
from the lion's den
to the morning star
to the gates of Hell!

The morning star rose into hell
three days to shine on Moses
and from his solitary cell
to free the Jack O' Roses

He sprang to saddle like wind, I allow (note 5)
for bridle strains of lightning
Ride, ride, ride, though tempest howl
cruelly and most frightening (note 6)

For at the dawn fair Terrapin
arose like revelation
The morning star reflected in
the windows of Terrapin Station

Terrapin (note 7)
If anyone should ask of you who made this song
say the Jack O' Roses and all who played along
who rise, climb, fall to win

What have we to lose from love
except what lacks foundation
Words can only carve the space
we fill with expectation

The lion's den lies far behind (note 8)
in visions of the damned
Jack O' Roses one more time
My lady, here's your fan (note 9)

let me rise, let me fall, let me climb, let me crawl
but let me in
Accept this fan as a token of what I meant to do
for I really do love you
(1) In his journal for 12 June 2003, Hunter explained: "Jack O'Roses ... is a Garcia composition, one he never played. Not because he didn't like it, but he was never keen to add lyric parts to a song already recorded. I always felt "Terrapin" was recorded too soon, there was much more to do on it. But recording company pressures dictated that our contributions to the album be done by a certain date so that the producer could take it off to London and gussy it up with strings."
(2) in a 1978 version, Hunter sings "And left you with the damned"
(3) in a 1978 version, Hunter sang "But never the shacks he lived in"
(4) Brian and Graham Lesh omits this verse in their versions.
(5) In his 1980 recording, Hunter sings "Jack sprang to saddle ..."
(6) Brian and Grahame Lesh add another verse here that doesn't appear in any Hunter versions I know of. The lyrics are hard to make out - something like:
Will you abide till seasons turn
Deeming lover's rest
Holding fast while winter burns
The sorrow from your breast
(7) Brian and Grahame Lesh's version has a succession of "Terrapin"s here, and omits "If anyone should ask ..."
(8) in a 1978 performance, Hunter added another verse here:
[Coils of] fine and deja vue
Unwinding like the wind
I have played this song before
I think sometimes for you
(9) Brian and Grahame Lesh's version ends here.

     Date Album Recorded By
     1980 Jack O'Roses Robert Hunter

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


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