deadsongs.vue.148 : New Speedway Boogie
permalink #0 of 5: David Dodd (ddodd) Mon 8 Sep 03 09:23
    
New Speedway Boogie
w: Hunter m: Garcia
AGDL: http://arts.ucsc.edu/gdead/agdl/spee.html
LASF: http://www.whitegum.com/songfile/NEWSPEED.HTM
  
deadsongs.vue.148 : New Speedway Boogie
permalink #1 of 5: Alex Allan (alexallan) Mon 8 Sep 03 21:03
    
New Speedway Boogie 
Lyrics: Robert Hunter
Music: Jerry Garcia

Copyright Ice Nine Publishing; used by permission.

Please don't dominate the rap, Jack
If you got nothing new to say
If you please, don't back up the track
This train's got to run today

I spent a little time in the mountain
Spent a little time on the hill
I heard some say "better run away"
Others say "better stand still"

Now I don't know but I've been told
It's hard to run with the weight of gold
Other hand I heard it said
It's just as hard with the weight of lead

Who can deny? Who can deny?
It's not just a change in style
One step done and another begun
In I wonder how many miles?

I spent a little time on the mountain
Spent a little time on the hill
Things went down we don't understand
But I think in time we will

Now I don't know but I was told
In the heat of the sun a man died of cold
Do we keep on coming or stand and wait
With the sun so dark and the hour so late?

You can't overlook the lack Jack
Of any other highway to ride
It's got no signs or dividing lines
And very few rules to guide

I spent a little time on the mountain
Spent a little time on the hill
I saw things getting out of hand
I guess they always will

Now, I don't know but I've been told
If the horse don't pull, you got to carry the load
I don't know whose back's that strong
Maybe find out before too long

One way or another
One way or another
One way or another
This darkness got to give
[etc]
  
deadsongs.vue.148 : New Speedway Boogie
permalink #2 of 5: David Dodd (ddodd) Fri 1 Jun 07 11:37
    
Posted on behalf of Dave Vecsey:

David, 

Always love cruising through your site ... 

One thought on New Speedway Boogie's first line, and dovetailing with
whole first stanza: 

Since this song is pegged as a response to Altamont, couldn't the
first line be a reference to Mick Jagger (aka Jumpin' Jack Flash) and
his futile efforts to talk to the crowd as the scene kept spiraling
downward. To me: 

Please don't dominate the rap, Jack 
 If you got nothing new to say 
 If you please, don't back up the track 
 This train's got to run today 


sounds like: Mick, stop talking and get on with the show, this train's
got to run today. 

Then the second verse: 

 I spent a little time in the mountain 
 Spent a little time on the hill 
 I heard some say "better run away" 
 Others say "better stand still" 

Sounds like the conflicting advice the Dead was getting as to whether
they should play or not as things kept getting uglier. 

Just my own little interpretation; probably has nothing to do with
reality. 

Dave Vecsey
  
deadsongs.vue.148 : New Speedway Boogie
permalink #3 of 5: Marked from the Day That I was Born (ssol) Mon 4 Jun 07 13:03
    
Might well do have to do with reality. Who can tell nor deny ;-)
  
deadsongs.vue.148 : New Speedway Boogie
permalink #4 of 5: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Wed 6 Jun 07 06:54
    
Especially the second verse.
  
deadsongs.vue.148 : New Speedway Boogie
permalink #5 of 5: David Dodd (ddodd) Mon 20 Sep 10 14:54
    
Posted on behalf of Susan Helf:

I just discovered your annotated Grateful Dead lyrics, which means
I have not been a very good Deadhead lately! I wanted to thank you for
explicating the lyrics of New Speedway Boogie and other Dead songs. 
 I never knew Hunter wrote it about the horrible events at Altamont.
The song sounds entirely different to me now. Your site says
you are no longer accepting comments about the lyrics, so forgive me
for writing to you about this.
 
For nearly 40 years, I've been convinced that Hunter wrote the song
about the movie, The Treasure of Sierra Madre. I saw the movie on TV in
the fall of 1971, when I bought my first Dead album, Workingman's
Dead.
 
After I watched the movie, I played the album. Suddenly it seemed like
New Speedway Boogie told the story of that film. In particular, it
seemed to describe the scene where Humphrey Bogart and Tim Holt are
sitting around the campfire, each plotting to kill the other for the
other's guy's stash of gold.
 
Please don't dominate the rap, jack, if you've got nothing new to say.
     
(Dobbs & Curtin keep up a wary conversation late at night, trying to
stay awake.) 

If you please, don't back up the track; this train's got to run today.
Axioms say "Better run away", others say "better stand still".        
         
(The train is the violence needed to get all the gold. The two men are
trying to outsmart each other, trying to figure out how to
survive and get all the gold. What's the best plan? Can they trust
each other? Get off the mountain alive?)

Now I don't know, but I been told it's hard to run with the weight of
gold.    
Other hand I have heard it said, it's just as hard with the weight of
lead.
(They all lust after the gold, but gold-lust kills several of them)

Who can deny, who can deny, it's not just a change in style?     
One step done and another begun and I wonder how many miles.          

I spent a little time on the mountain, I spent a little time on the
hill.        
Things went down we don't understand, but I think in time we will.
Now, I don't know but I was told in the heat of the sun a man died of
cold.    
(Two men are killed in the desert, which is hot in the daylight and
cold at night.)  

Keep on coming or stand and wait, with the sun so dark and the hour so
late.
You can't overlook the lack, jack, of any other highway to ride.    
(In order to get value from the gold, you have to get down from the
mountains.)
 
It's got no signs or dividing lines and very few rules to guide.
(It's dangerous because of the terrain and the bandits.)

I spent a little time on the mountain, I spent a little time on the
hill.             
I saw things getting out of hand, I guess they always will.           
 
(Insane gold-lust drives them both to violence.)
     
Now I don't know but I been told                                      
               
If the horse don't pull you got to carry the load.                    
          
I don't know whose back's that strong, maybe find out before too long.
     
(Getting the gold away safely is going to be tough. The thing you most
want, that you are willing to kill for, may be your undoing.)

One way or another, one way or another, 
One way or another, this darkness got to give. 
(Repeat 2x)
(Somebody's going to die before the break of day.)

This is the context in which the three gringos band together in a
small Mexican town and set out to strike it rich in the remote Sierra
Madre mountains. They ride a train into the hinterlands, surviving a
bandit attack en route. Once out in the desert, Howard, the old-timer
of the group, quickly proves to  be by far the toughest and most
knowledgeable; he is the one to discover the gold they are seeking. A
mine is dug, and much gold is extracted. Greed soon sets in and Dobbs
(Humphrey Bogart) begins to lose both his trust and his sanity, lusting
to possess the entire treasure. Dobbs is also paranoid that he will be
killed by his partners. At this time a fourth American shows up, which
sets up a moral debate about what to do with the new stranger. The
bandits then reappear, pretending, very crudely, to be Federales, which
leads to the now-iconic line about not needing to show any "stinking
badges." After a gunfight in which the fourth American is killed, a
real troop of Federales appears and drives the bandits away.

But when Howard is called away to assist some local villagers, Dobbs
and third partner Curtin have a final confrontation, which Dobbs wins,
leaving Curtin lying shot and presumed dead. However, Curtin crawls to
safety. Later, Dobbs is murdered (via decapitation) by some surviving
bandits, who, in their ignorance, believe the bags of unrefined gold to
be just bags of sand and scatter them to the winds. Curtin is
discovered and taken to Howard's village, where he recovers. He and
Howard miss witnessing the bandits' execution by Federales by only a
few minutes as they arrive back in town, and learn that the gold is
gone. While checking the areas that the bandits dropped the gold,
Howard realizes that the winds must have carried the gold away. They
accept the loss with equanimity, and then part ways, Howard returning
to his village, and Curtin returning home to America.

Thanks for letting me revisit my earliest Deadhead memories.

Susan Helf

Seattle
  



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