What does this song mean?

Postby Mr.Charlie » Mon Mar 17, 2008 7:56 pm

It's about lost love, "rider" is a term often used in blues/old country songs which references a girl you're with. The whole "headlight on a north bound train" is kind of a lamenting lyric to me, metaphorical in the sense that you wish you could clearly see your way through the hard time of losing your girl, through the inevitable trip north through the cool colorado rain, which is basically breaking up with your rider. Just my two cents.
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Postby st stephen » Tue Mar 18, 2008 3:57 am

lost love...i think its pretty obvious
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Postby BuddhaG » Tue Mar 18, 2008 7:55 am

My interpretation of any given song will change as my life goes through changes itself. It seems that a song will transform in my mind over a period of months or years. Sometimes it oscillates between meanings, becoming pertinent in the sense of what I need at this time in my life.

I hadn't paid that much attention to this song in the past years... just saw it as a nice folky blues about love and moving on. Perhaps being a bad place and getting out of that bad place in your head. The way Jerry sang the Cool Colorado Rain part always gave some great imagery of a beam of light cutting through the confusion (a la Dark Star).

On a personal note, I was listening to a China>Rider one night when hanging out with the girl I've been with recently. We were just chillin, enjoying each others company, and when the band started the first lyrics to the song, we both just looked at each other and understood there was a fundamental sadness in the reality of our situation. She is leaving to Hawaii in a month and though I plan on seeing her again, the song was more true to me than it ever had been before.

I hope next March's Winds will blow me to Hawaii.
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Postby Pete B. » Tue Mar 18, 2008 9:16 am

My rider left upon the midnight flyer...
Singin' like a summer breeze.

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Re: What does this song mean?

Postby Charlie » Sun Jul 19, 2015 8:50 pm

The song "I Know You Rider" was originally recorded back in the thirties under the name "Women's Blues" by Lucille Bogan although apparently many of the lyrics were different. According to Wiki musicologists Alan and John Lomax heard it sung by an 18 year old girl in Prison, added some verses and gave it the title "Women's Blues.

The first verse is pretty obvious - you're going to miss my loving when I go.

A number of the verses are traditional and used in a few other songs as well as this one. For example the "I lay down last Night" verse is sung by Taj Mahal in his version of "Good Morning Miss Brown" from the Natural Blues album. "The sun will shine in my back door" verse is also sung by Taj on his version of Diving Duck Blues" from his first album (I think). Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee also had a song where this line appeared as the last line of each verse.

I would interpret the "I wish I was a headlight" verse as possibly an African American woman (or man) in the South wanting to migrate north to Chicago or Detroit or somewhere they could obtain employment and possibly escape Jim Crow.
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Re: What does this song mean?

Postby aiq » Tue Jul 21, 2015 7:53 am

I always took rider to be my easy rider, a good friend with benefits. This friend has done something to mess with singer's mind a bit.

Singer has rambling on his mind, and may soon have another rider.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

That said I don't want anyone telling me what the painting means so rock on.
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