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Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #8887  by caspersvapors
 Sun Sep 10, 2006 11:43 pm
and since this forum is empty, thought id add something

(this is one of my favorite Dead songs)

anyway this is from Deadsongs.vue
In the Annotated "Wharf Rat," a Mr. Walt K wrote in about "Purly
Baker," head of the Anti-Saloon league from 1903 to the early 1920's.
You [i.e. David Dodd] responded by agreeing with his reference, but
then said, "In the song, of course, Pearly Baker, with the different
spelling, becomes a woman. But the reference has interesting
implications for the song's meaning-which, of course, I leave up to
you."

Rather than assume Hunter made Pearly Baker a woman, I read the poem
as the narrator mistaking August West's statements . . .

My name is August West
and I love my Pearly Baker best
more than my wine
....more than My wine
more than my maker
though he's no friend of mine

Here, rather than assume "he's no friend of mine" applies to "my
maker," I'd argue it applies to Pearly Baker . . . August says I love
Pearly Baker better than wine or God, but Pearly's no friend of mine.
West knows who the Rev Baker is; and the next verse I think supports
this interpretation (of he's no friend of mine):

Everyone said
I'd come to no good
I knew I would
Pearly believed them

August is complaining here that everyone said the booze would do him
in; he didn't agree, but Pearly (Rev. Baker - the prohibitionist)
agreed with the assessment that booze is bad.

Later, we read this:

Pearly's been true
true to me, true to my dying day he said
I said to him:
I'm sure she's been
I said to him:
I'm sure she's been true to you

August says that Pearly (Rev Baker, the prohibitionist) was correct
(i.e. booze did me in.) The Narrator (not the author) misinterprets
this, assuming Purly is a woman who wronged West, and responds with
what he believes is sympathy, "I'm sure she's been true to you."

What do you think?

 #8908  by phreaker
 Mon Sep 11, 2006 2:17 pm
theres a whole story behind every word in every dead song. most people overlook this, and just listen to them for the jamming.

growing up with a father who is an english teacher (25+ years) i always pay attention to stuff like lyrics.

now i think im just a liiitttle bit into the jams, rather than the lyrics :D

 #17785  by nicolasalk
 Thu Jun 07, 2007 5:22 pm
i've also read thatand this song is great, is so deep and so great, i love it

 #28975  by pilgrim
 Sat Nov 03, 2007 3:54 pm
Caspersvapors...I like the interpretation you posted. I especially like the fact that even though I have heard (and played) Wharf Rat over 100 times, somebody could show me possibilities I never would have considered. There must be as many interpretations as there are people who have listened to Wharf Rat.
 #28982  by ebick
 Sat Nov 03, 2007 5:21 pm
Everyone said
I'd come to no good
I knew I would
Pearly believed them
Wow.......for all the years I have been listening to this song, I always heard:

I knew I would
Pearly believe them

....like, "you should listed to what they say", not that she did listen to what they said. Amazing how one little letter changes it.

 #29013  by pilgrim
 Sun Nov 04, 2007 2:54 pm
The rukind tab for Wharf Rat shows the lyric as Pearly believe them.I sing it both ways and I don't know why. I think August West is warning Pearly to believe what "everyone said" as he knew he "would come to no good" as well. He is hoping she can wait for him until he can make it back to his life before becoming a wharf rat.

 #29076  by tigerstrat
 Mon Nov 05, 2007 12:33 pm
Wow... that's pretty... convuluted. If that's the true intent, then imho the level of lyricism takes a big hit.

 #29082  by tigerstrat
 Mon Nov 05, 2007 2:30 pm
nicolasalk wrote:im sure that is the real meaning
One thing I'm sure of is that the meanings of Grateful Dead lyrics are always left open to multiple interpetations. That's part of the magic, which is diminished if tied down to something too specific.

 #29084  by strumminsix
 Mon Nov 05, 2007 2:43 pm
nicolasalk wrote:im sure that is the real meaning
Is this from your conversation with Robert Hunter?

Sarcasm aside if you read enough about Hunter you'll realize 3 things:
1 - he has tons of life experience
2 - he is extremely well read
2 - he often wrote songs in multiple parts

These 3 components are seen time and again in his writing.

 #29094  by confusions_prince
 Mon Nov 05, 2007 4:20 pm
strumminsix wrote:
nicolasalk wrote:im sure that is the real meaning
Is this from your conversation with Robert Hunter?

Sarcasm aside if you read enough about Hunter you'll realize 3 things:
1 - he has tons of life experience
2 - he is extremely well read
2 - he often wrote songs in multiple parts

These 3 components are seen time and again in his writing.
^^ Quoted for truth

Hunter probably has something specific in mind when he writes a song, but he leaves the interpretation open so that it can't be too tied down.

That said, the interpretation posted here asks you to stretch the limits of the words.

 #29097  by nicolasalk
 Mon Nov 05, 2007 4:42 pm
confusions_prince wrote:
strumminsix wrote:
nicolasalk wrote:im sure that is the real meaning
Is this from your conversation with Robert Hunter?

Sarcasm aside if you read enough about Hunter you'll realize 3 things:
1 - he has tons of life experience
2 - he is extremely well read
2 - he often wrote songs in multiple parts

These 3 components are seen time and again in his writing.
^^ Quoted for truth

Hunter probably has something specific in mind when he writes a song, but he leaves the interpretation open so that it can't be too tied down.

That said, the interpretation posted here asks you to stretch the limits of the words.
:shock: i wasnt being sarcastic

i was talkin seriouslly

 #29102  by strumminsix
 Mon Nov 05, 2007 5:26 pm
nicolasalk wrote:
confusions_prince wrote:
strumminsix wrote: Is this from your conversation with Robert Hunter?

Sarcasm aside if you read enough about Hunter you'll realize 3 things:
1 - he has tons of life experience
2 - he is extremely well read
2 - he often wrote songs in multiple parts

These 3 components are seen time and again in his writing.
^^ Quoted for truth

Hunter probably has something specific in mind when he writes a song, but he leaves the interpretation open so that it can't be too tied down.

That said, the interpretation posted here asks you to stretch the limits of the words.
:shock: i wasnt being sarcastic

i was talkin seriouslly
I was being sarcastic. You said, "im sure that is the real meaning."

How can you be sure?
Did you talk to Hunter?

 #29142  by nicolasalk
 Tue Nov 06, 2007 12:04 pm
im kind of confused, but the thing i meant is that I believe that the whole Purly Baker has something to do with the song, i dont think is luck

i dont know if i explained well, i dont speak perfect english