farrlito wrote: ↑Tue May 11, 2004 3:34 pmWhat does China Doll mean?
This song isn't about a suicide, but rather an attempted suicide.
The key line is the last one from the verses:
"I would ask the same of you, but failing, will not die."
They did shoot themselves and hit the ground...
But the beautiful coda - with the major chords shining like sunlight after dark clouds pass - comes like redemption; Hope remains:
"Take up your China Doll...
It's only fractured;
Just a little nervous from the fall."
Hunter's use of a China Doll as a metaphor for the suicide-attempter and to embody the fragility of life is a tremendous example of his genius.
I wonder if he came up with the coda first and then wrote the main body of lyrics. Using the "China Doll" metaphor, the coda says so much, so wonderfully, using so few words. It's like a haiku.
For me it might be the most beautiful Grateful Dead song.
"China dolls" generally speaking have painted heads and hands made of porcelain while the bodies are cloth. The word "china" referred to the porcelain.