Lyrics: Ron McKernan
Music: Ron McKernan

Operator, can you help me
Help me if you please
Give me the right area code
And the number that I need
My rider left upon the midnight flyer
Singing like a summer breeze

I think she's somewhere down south
Down about Baton Rouge
But I just can't remember no number
A number I can use
Directory don't have it, Central done forgot it
Got to find a number to use

Trying to check out her number
Trying to run down her line
Operator said that's privileged information
And it ain't no business of mine
It's flooding down in Texas, the poles are down in Utah
Got to find a private line

She could be hanging round a steel mill
Working in a house of blue light
Riding a getaway bus out of Portland
Talking to the night (note 2)
I don't know where she's going, I don't care where she's been
Long as she's been doing it right (note 3)
Long as she's been doing it right
(1) the sheet music has "... the poles are down in Utah" but Seth Zamost has pointed out to me that it sounds very much as if Pigpen sings "... the poles are out in Utah. The first set of handwritten lyrics below has "the lines are down in Utah".
(2) a handwritten version of the lyrics (I'm not sure if it's by Pigpen himself) was given to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame by Robert Hunter. It has this line as "To the warm California nights", with an alternative in brackets: "Sniffin' cocaine in the night". Another handwritten version (this time apparently by Pigpen himself) has this verse as
She could be hanging round a steel mill
Working in a Denver saloon
Riding a getaway bus out of Portland
Racing with the moon/whistling to the moon
I don't know where she's been, my life's in ruin
Operator, got to find her soon
(3) the first set of handwritten lyrics above has "Hope she been don' it right".

Grateful Dead Recordings
     Date Album
     studio 1970 American Beauty
     18 Sep 1970 30 Days Of The Dead (2015)
Covers By Other Artists
     Date Album Recorded By
     2001 Gratefully Yours Jim Hudak
     2001 Blues Tribute To The Grateful Dead Various (Richie Castellano)
     2003 Ukelele Summit 5 Various (Jim Beloff)
     2007 At Fine Arts Center, UMass The American Beauty Project
     2009 River Of Time Jorma Kaukonen
     2021 Jerry's Smilin': Guitar Tribute To The Grateful Dead Damià Timoner

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 dead.net see Greatest Stories Ever Told
For online chords and TAB see www.rukind.com
For sheet music, see:
          Grateful Dead Anthology Volume 1 (piano arrangement)
          Grateful Dead Songbook Volume 1 (piano arrangement)


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