Panama Red

Lyrics: Peter Rowan
Music: Peter Rowan

Played by Jerry Garcia with Peter Rowan in Old And In The Way in 1973. Also recorded and played by the New Riders of the Purple Sage (after Jerry had stopped playing with them).

Peter Rowan has given this account of the writing of the song (thanks to Corry Arnold and David Gans)

"Panama Red was written in 1969 in Cambridge Mass, the summer after Earth Opera's March breakup after our last gig in Long Beach at the Golden Bear. Seatrain felt the song was too "funky-country" for the band's pop-classical recording direction. We did perform it in the early days. The subject was "taboo" in those days. You did jail time for pot. So that might have scared commercial interests. But Garcia was a green light all the way! "Oh sure" was his motto, both ironically and straight but always with a twinkle in his eye! True to form when the Riders got a hit with Panama Red, the Seatrain management kept all the money! Oh sure! Jerry suggested I bring the song to Marmaduke and Nelson!"
Panama Red, Panama Red
He'll steal your woman, then he'll rob your head
Panama Red, Panama Red
On his white horse, Mescalito
He come breezin' through town
I'll bet your woman's up in bed with
Panama Red

The judge don't know when Red's in town
He keeps well hidden underground
But everybody's acting lazy
Falling out and hangin' 'round

My woman said, "Hey Pedro
you're actin' crazy like a clown"
Nobody feels like working
Panama Red is back in town


Everybody's looking out for him
'Cause they know Red's satisfies
Little girls love to listen to him
Sing and tell sweet lies

But when things get too confusing, honey
You're better off in bed
And I'll be searching all the joints in town for
Panama Red

Old And In The Way Recordings
     Date Album
      1 Oct 1973 Breakdown 
      8 Oct 1973 Old And In The Way  (note 1)
      4 Nov 1973 Live At Sonoma State 
New Riders Recordings
     Date Album
      1973 The Adventures Of Panama Red
      1975 Live On Stage
     13 Jun 1975 Armadillo World HQ
     25 Jun 1976 Hempsteader
      1982 Live (1982)
     29/30 Jul 2006 Live At Turkey Trot
Other Recordings
     Date Album Recorded By
     1978 Peter Rowan Peter Rowan
     1992 Frank Wakefield & the Good Ol' Boys Frank Wakefield
     1998 Alive At Twenty Five Telluride Bluegrass Festival (Peter Rowan)
     1998 Live At The Oasis Rollin' In The Hay
     12 Apr 2002 On The Road: Chicago IL String Cheese Incident

(1) also included on Live At The Boarding House
(2) see also the backwards versions on Before Time Began

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)
          Old And In The Way Banjo Songbook (banjo TAB)


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