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Ithaca ’77

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The late great Bill Graham, owner of the famed Fillmore auditoriums, used to say of the Grateful Dead that, on any given night, they might be the greatest band on the planet. Of course, on other nights they often sucked, and they never had any really great studio albums, just a few pretty solid ones. So if you didn’t go to a show, and didn’t catch a good one, you would never have any idea what all the fuss was about.

Ithaca ’77 was the sort of thing that all the fuss was about. Man, I still miss Jerry.

As I was walkin’ ’round Grosvenor Square
Not a chill to the winter but a nip to the air
From the other direction she was calling my eye
It could be an illusion but I might as well try–
might as well try.

She had rings on her fingers and bells on her shoes,
And I knew without askin’ she was into the blues
Scarlet begonias tucked into her curls
I knew right away she was not like other girls–
other girls

In the thick of the evening when the dealing got rough
She was too pat to open and too cool to bluff
As I picked up my matches and was closing the door
I had one of those flashes: I’d been there before–
been there before.

[Bridge] I ain’t often right but I’ve never been wrong
It seldom turns out the way it does in the song
Once in a while you get shown the light
in the strangest of places if you look at it right

Well there ain’t nothin’ wrong with the way she moves
Or scarlet begonias or a touch of the blues
And there’s nothing wrong with the love that’s in her eye
I had to learn the hard way to let her pass by–
let her pass by

The wind in the willows played Tea for Two
The sky was yellow and the sun was blue
Strangers stopped strangers just to shake their hand
Everybody’s playing in the Heart of Gold Band–
Heart of Gold Band…

(I gotta say, Deadshow.com rules, as does David Dodd’s Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics.)


This post originally appeared on Dean’s World, where we regularly discuss politics, music, and spiritual issues. Defending the liberal tradition, 24/7!

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About Dean Esmay

  • I’ve already posted this link at Dean’s site, but here it is again:


    All of the shows (I think) listed on that Deadshow.com page, plus a shitload more from 1966 to 1995, and numerous shows by related bands, in mp3 and shn format. Just be warned, there’s some gigantic files ahead…