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deadsongs.vue.166 : Reuben and Cerise
permalink #0 of 5: David Dodd (ddodd) Mon 8 Sep 03 09:29
    
Reuben And Cerise
w: Hunter m: Garcia
AGDL: http://arts.ucsc.edu/gdead/agdl/reub.html
LASF: http://www.whitegum.com/songfile/REUBEN.HTM
  
deadsongs.vue.166 : Reuben and Cerise
permalink #1 of 5: Alex Allan (alexallan) Mon 8 Sep 03 20:53
    
Reuben And Cerise 
Lyrics: Robert Hunter
Music: Jerry Garcia

Copyright Ice Nine Publishing; used by permission.

Cerise was brushing her long hair gently down
It was the afternoon of Carnival
As she brushes it gently down

Reuben was strumming his painted mandolin
It was enlaid with a pretty face in jade
Played the Carnival Parade

Cerise was dressing as Pirouette in white
When a fatal vision gripped her tight
Cerise, beware tonight

Reuben, Reuben, tell me truly true
I feel afraid and I don't know why I do
Is there another girl for you

If you could see in my heart
You would know it's true
There is none, Cerise, except for you
Except for you
I swear to it on my very soul
If I lie may I fall down cold

When Reuben played on his painted mandolin
The breeze would stop and listen in
Before going its way again

Masquerade began when nightfall finally woke
Like waves against the bandstand dancers broke
To the painted mandolin

Looking out on the crowd, who is standing there?
Sweet Ruby Claire at Reuben stared
At Reuben stared
She was dressed as Pirouette in red
And her hair hung gently down

The crowd pressed round, Ruby stood as though alone
Reuben's song took on a different tone
And he played it just for her

The song that he played was the Carnival Parade
Each note cut a thread of Cerise's fate
It cut through like a blade

Reuben was playing his painted mandolin
When Ruby froze and turned to stone
For the strings played all alone

If you could see in my heart
You would know it's true
There is none, Cerise, except for you
Except for you

The voice of Cerise from the face of the mandolin
Singing Reuben, Reuben, tell me true
For I have no one but you

If you could see my heart
You would know it's true
There is none, Cerise, except for you
Except for you
I swear to it on my very soul
If I lie, may I fall down cold

The truth of love an unsung song must tell
The course of love must follow blind
Without a look behind (note 10)

Reuben walked the streets of New Orleans till dawn
Cerise so lightly in his arms
And her hair hung gently down


Additional lyrics:

Ahoy, old ferryman, riverboat of Charon ride
Though alive, take Reuben to the other side
For his sweet Cerise has died

It's a long lonely walk from Hell to the burying ground
Cerise may return but don't you look around
For your glance would cut her down
  
deadsongs.vue.166 : Reuben and Cerise
permalink #2 of 5: David Gans (tnf) Mon 10 May 04 11:34
    
from an excellent discussion on the GDH mailing list, this post by Paul
Eskridge:




Hi folks,

Jordan (passage92460@yahoo.com) sez:

>Well, my wife and I were just listening to Jerry's concert in the
>Oregon State Prison in '82 and loving this version of Reuben and
>Cherise.  But sadly, we don't understand what the song is trying to
>say.

Hunter re-cast the legend of Orpheus and Euridyce.  As far as I know,
Hunter made up the betrayal part, although I've read three or four
different versions of how Euridyce died, and could easily have missed a
betrayal version.

I sing this song all the time, and have a VERY strong preference for
Hunter's version over Garcia's.

First there is the lyrics to refrains 1 & 3:

Hunter:

Reuben swear to it on your very soul
If you lie may you fall down cold

Garcia:

I swear to it on my very soul
If I lie may I fall down cold

"If you lie *I* will die" hits me a lot harder than "cross my heart and
hope to die" in this case.

Hunter:

Reuben put down the painted mandolin
Ruby froze and turned to stone
For the strings played all alone

Garcia:

Reuben was playing his painted mandolin
When Ruby froze and turned to stone
For the strings played all alone

Garcia's version seems practically non-sensical to me.  But Hunter's
tells the story of a whole evening in one line.  See, he's been staring
at this babe in the crowd for the whole show.  And afterward, the two
of them wander off together to someplace quiet.  He's been strumming
along, singing sweet nothings to her the whole time.  They find a nice,
private spot.  He puts down his axe.  And the music keeps on playing.

Garcia didn't sing the verses that connect the story explicitly to the
Orpheus and Euridyce legend ("Ahoy old ferryman. . . " etc).  That's a
little bit of a problem, because without them it's more difficult to
sort out what came down.  But not SO hard, if you think about it for
awhile.  The biggest problem with this omission is that it leaves out
"For your glance would cut her down"

Which brings us to

Hunter:

The truth of love an unsung song must tell
The course of love must follow blind
Reuben looked behind

Garcia:

The truth of love an unsung song must tell
The course of love must follow blind
Without a look behind

The first one hits me like a sledgehammer.  The second one is just a
fluffy cliche.

And finally:

Hunter:

Reuben walked the streets of New Orleans till dawn
With the ghost of Cerise in his empty arms
And her hair hung gently down

Garcia:

Reuben walked the streets of New Orleans till dawn
Cerise so lightly in his arms
And her hair hung gently down

The first is absolutly haunting in it's finality.  The second doesn't
really show the last broken-hearted hand.

The thing about this song that moves me so much is that it is such a
paegn to glorious failure.  Here's this guy.  He's talented and all.
But he's still just a normal human schmuck, with all those normal petty
human foibles.  And those foibles cost him BIG time.

But he doesn't just accept the loss.  He transcends the bounds of his
humanity and travels to Hell to attempt to atone for his mistake.  He
charms death itself into giving him a second chance -- pulling
something off that all people dream of being able to do.

The problem is that he's *still* just a normal human schmuck, and with
the gold ring right there in his hand, he blows it a second, FINAL
time.

So here he is, wandering the streets at night.  Knowing full well that
he transcended anything normally possible for a human.  And he still
failed.  And is left with nothing but "the ghost of Cerise in his empty
arms".

The essence of tragedy.

Paul Eskridge
  
deadsongs.vue.166 : Reuben and Cerise
permalink #3 of 5: rubin or reuben? (xian) Tue 11 May 04 12:43
    
See also Black Orpheus, which sets the myth in Brazil during Carnaval
(analogous to New Orleans' Mardi Gras). I asked Hunter about this once
(in email) and he had seen the "Orfeo" movie.
  
deadsongs.vue.166 : Reuben and Cerise
permalink #4 of 5: David Dodd (ddodd) Tue 7 Jan 14 15:39
    
From a 1985 Jerry Garcia interview with Jas Obrecht, published in full
transcript online recently:

Were any of the songs you’ve written particularly frustrating?

Oh, yeah. Some were really frustrating. “Reuben and Cherise” took
about three years to write, literally – maybe longer than that. I kept
writing and writing versions of it – “Oh, this sucks.” Hunter would
rewrite the lyrics: “No, that doesn’t make it.” I’d write a new melody:
“No, that isn’t it.” It’s so utterly and totally different from the
very first conception of it. That went on forever. It just went on
forever.

http://jasobrecht.com/jerry-garcia-the-complete-1985-interview/
  
deadsongs.vue.166 : Reuben and Cerise
permalink #5 of 5: David Gans (tnf) Tue 7 Jan 14 15:55
    
And Hunter published an alternative last verse in hie lyrics book.
  



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