Grateful Dead – “Sugaree” Live
Another Unforgettable Stand-out Song From Jerry Garcia!
Jerry Garcia wrote this track along with lyricist Robert Hunter. It was released on January 1972 as part of the album, “Garcia.” One amazing fact is: Garcia played ALL the instruments (except drums) when he recorded the songs.
“Sugaree” is a story song utilizing all the subtle tricks in Hunter’s arsenal. He lays out a character, addressing another character, the Sugaree of the title, in terms that could mean several things, and offers a glimpse of a shared past and a possible future that awaits. But even in the song’s present moment, what is occurring or has just happened?
Garcia’s setting of the lyric is just as mercurial as the words themselves. The performances could settle into a wide range of tempos, and the instrumentals between the verses could roar to life and then descent to a whisper.
Though Hunter has given some insights about the backstory of how the title and lyrics came about, it’s still open to the listener’s interpretation. No matter how many times you listen to this song, everyone can have a different perception. In fact, the moment someone hears it the first time, they’d most definitely be blown away.
“The phrase ‘just don’t tell them that you know me’ was prompted by something said by an associate in my pre-Dead days when my destitute circumstances found me fraternizing with a gang of minor criminals. What he said, when departing, was: ‘Hold your mud and don’t mention my name.'” – Robert Hunter