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deadsongs.vue.178 : Scarlet Begonias
permalink #0 of 23: David Dodd (ddodd) Mon 8 Sep 03 09:34
    
Scarlet Begonias
w: Hunter m: Garcia
AGDL: http://arts.ucsc.edu/gdead/agdl/scarlet.html
LASF: http://www.whitegum.com/songfile/SCARLET.HTM
  
deadsongs.vue.178 : Scarlet Begonias
permalink #1 of 23: Alex Allan (alexallan) Mon 8 Sep 03 20:29
    
Scarlet Begonias 
Lyrics: Robert Hunter
Music: Jerry Garcia

Copyright Ice Nine Publishing; used by permission.

As I was walking round Grosvenor Square
Not a chill to the winter but a nip to the air
From the other direction she was calling my eye
It could be an illusion, but I might as well try
Might as well try

She had rings on her fingers and bells on her shoes
And I knew without asking she was into the blues
She wore scarlet begonias, tucked into her curls
I knew right away she was not like other girls
Other girls

In the thick of the evening when the dealing got rough
She was too pat to open and too cool to bluff
As I picked up my matches and was closing the door
I had one of those flashes I had been there before
Been there before

Well I ain't often right but I've never been wrong
It seldom turns out the way it does in the song
Once in a while you get shown the light
In the strangest of places if you look at it right

Well there ain't nothing wrong with the way she moves
Scarlet begonias or a touch of the blues
And there's nothing wrong with the look that's in her eyes
I had to learn the hard way to let her pass by
Let her pass by

The wind in the willows playing Tea for Two
The sky was yellow and the sun was blue
Strangers stopping strangers just to shake their hand
Everybody is playing in the heart of gold band
Heart of gold band
  
deadsongs.vue.178 : Scarlet Begonias
permalink #2 of 23: David Dodd (ddodd) Wed 22 Oct 03 08:40
    
Posting this message sent to ddodd on 10/20/03:

From: Ryan Nellett [mailto:ryan_nellett@hotmail.com]
Sent: Monday, October 20, 2003 7:56 PM
To: ddodd@mcflmail.org
Subject: Scarlet Begonias


David,

let me first start by saying, "I love the site", as is the usual custom from
your writers.

All pleasantries aside,  while I was doing homework this evening and
listening to some dead of course, I had a revelation I'd like to share about
Scarlet Begonias.  For some reason, I keep coming back to this song... who
doesn't?  Something about the lyrics kept bringing me back, and it wasn't
until this evening that I finally found my interpretation of this beautiful
tune.

I believe we have all met a women at one point in our lives that seemed too
good to be true.  A chance run in at a bar perhaps, or maybe a wedding where
we have been left to converse and maybe spend the evening in the company of
a beautiful female who shares your exact interests and you immediately hit
it off... before you know you're intoxicated, hours elapse in minutes, and
the evening is over in a flash.  You don't ask for her number, something
stops you... but what exactly?  You go home to wake up the next morning
alone, wondering why you didn't pursue another meeting with this woman or
whatnot.  You're left with only the memory.  We've all been there right?

I think what Garcia and Hunter are trying to tell us in Scarlet Begonias, is
that the beauty in that whole meeting is the memory itself.  Trying to "pick
up" the woman would only cheapen the moment and therefore the memory, which
is why he "let her pass by".  At the Beginning of the song Hunter describes
a chance meeting with a beautiful woman, she seems too good to be true ("it
could be an illusion..."), but decides to give it a shot.  She was obviously
"not like other girls", and perhaps a bit foolish or naive ("Scarlet
Begonias tucked into her curls").  He knew immediately they shared a common
interest (the blues).  Later that evening however, the goin' got rough.  She
was a confident woman, she was beautiful and knew it, i.e. vain ("She was
too pat to open, and too cool to bluff").  He decides then to not pursue her
("... picked up my matches, and was closing the door").  He knows vanity,
he's "been there before", so he lets her go.  These types of relationships
seldom have happy endings ("... it seldom turns out the way it does in the
song"). Although he lets her go, he later says that there is not a damn
thing wrong with her, or the feelings she may have felt for him ("There
ain't nothing wrong the way she moves,..., or the love that's in her eye"),
he has simply learned "the hard way" that it wouldn't work even if he tried.
  Now I have no idea what Hunter is trying to say in the last verse, but to
me, I think he is obviously daydreaming about something ("The sky was yellow
and the sun was blue", this must be a dream reference).  I think the subject
of the daydream is his evening with this woman ("the wind in the willows
played tea for two"?).  The daydream is obviously a happy one which can be
seen from the last two lines of the song.

Once again, I believe Hunter's message is the usual "live the moment".  Here
he is intoxicated by a woman but decides not to pursue her because if he
fails, he would have ruined the moment.  In not pursuing the woman, he can
kindly re-live it over and over again in his mind and remember her as
untarnished as he met her, besides her slight vanity of course.

Or... whatever, that's just MY take of course.


             Later Dave,

                 Ryan Nellett Detroit, MI

P.S.
A little background on myself... you may find this interesting.
I am, what many would consider... a neo dead-head.
I am, but only a mere 24 years of age.  I study Computer Science, am a
budding engineer...
the typical clean-cut, engineering dork.  Yet, in my spare time, I travel to
see as many shows as
a guy can.  In the last eight years or so, I don't think another band has
had the pleasure of
being in my CD player... that right is reserved for the boys.  This
information is indeed nonsense, I was only hoping to relate how much of an
impact the guys are still making.  The impact may not be as hard felt... but
definately still felt.  In my generation of manufactured shit music... this
stuff is still real, and I am thankful for that.  Nobody can describe an
emotion better than Hunter, and none better to relay it than Garcia.  Thanks
again.
  
deadsongs.vue.178 : Scarlet Begonias
permalink #3 of 23: David Gans (tnf) Wed 22 Oct 03 09:26
    

> he is intoxicated by a woman but decides not to pursue her because if he
> fails, he would have ruined the moment.

But he does pursue her!  The card game is the encounter.


Nice to see that sort of message from a younger fan.
  
deadsongs.vue.178 : Scarlet Begonias
permalink #4 of 23: Lightning in a Box (unkljohn) Wed 22 Oct 03 12:38
    
Yes, he had to learn the hard way, to let her pass by, ie he didn't let 
her pass by.....he learned the hard way.
  
deadsongs.vue.178 : Scarlet Begonias
permalink #5 of 23: Marked from the Day That I was Born (ssol) Thu 23 Oct 03 12:59
    
Whatever... that young lady almost ruined my life, and gave me one of
the finest thrills and greatest insights I might ever know.

She did have rings on her toes.
  
deadsongs.vue.178 : Scarlet Begonias
permalink #6 of 23: it was one of them flashes (xian) Tue 28 Oct 03 15:59
    
vivid memories of lawn shows at merriweather post, the frost, laguna
seca daze, with scarlet unfolding majestically, phil's bass pulsing up
the hillside and back, countermelodies bubbling, the band percolating
like a ramshackle rube goldberg cartoon of infinite delight, and sweet
sweet women with long dark hair and bangles, leaping and dancing and
whirling between the lazers on the downslope and the stage
  
deadsongs.vue.178 : Scarlet Begonias
permalink #7 of 23: from RON LOVE (tnf) Sun 4 Jan 04 21:35
    



Ron Love writes:


I've many time said were the only fans who love to go and get kicked in the
eye teeth about our preconceived notions of us and our world. Well it
happened just recently at the Dec 30th 2003 show. I was at the place
inside where one celebrates that which one is, and "scarlet" closed with
"playin in the heart of gold band - heart of gold band" . I heard myself as
being included in this band called the heart of gold band. During first set
break my mind went over this "heart of gold band" then this realization hit.
Wherever that big loving voice that knows comes from, if the perspective
would be from the knowledge of many systems of organized beings and their
types of emotional links to their worlds, our kind would be called a "Heart
of gold band" because we have not replaced the hearts desire for gold/money
with the desire of Love.

Thanks

Ron Love
organic farmer feeding healing food to humans
In times as complex as these it's hard to remember it begins with the
seeds. 

P.S.  Loser's "put your gold money where your love is baby" probably aligned
the "scarlet" realization. I said no deal close those curtains on paradise ,
I'm going to stay right here and maybe we can make it a place where there is
"nothing to get hung about". How can we comunicate these wonders? put your
gold money where your love is baby (create it and show it, don't just talk
it) "It dont take much to get the word around" It's hard to love when your a
"heart of gold band" There's a big "fire on the mountian" thats ok it's
mostly hot air.

The P.S. was inspired by this set (12/30/03):
The DEAD (the grateful one is dearly missed)

Cryptical Envelopment > Loser, Strawberry Fields Forever* > Jam> Loose Lucy*,
Scarlet Begonias* > Fire On The Mountain*
  
deadsongs.vue.178 : Scarlet Begonias
permalink #8 of 23: fro JIM FRONK (tnf) Thu 8 Dec 05 10:53
    



Jim Fronk writes:




This discussion hints to  Lady With  A Fan.  In this song He starts out as
the sailor and gave a least one try and ends as the soldier who was much more
wise. Maybe Charlie Brown was right every time he let that little red-haired
girl pass by.
  
deadsongs.vue.178 : Scarlet Begonias
permalink #9 of 23: searchlight casting (jstrahl) Mon 26 Dec 05 13:15
    
I always had the impression that the "dealing" that got rough wasn't
about cards, that the singer picked up his matches the next morning,
and was regretting the encounter, and the last verse is him finding
solace in the show's music, psychedelic environment (with its altered
colors) and communal feelings.
  
deadsongs.vue.178 : Scarlet Begonias
permalink #10 of 23: Charlie Hatfield (mr-charlie) Tue 13 Jun 06 09:03
    
When I was growing up in London several years before my first Dead
show in the 70’s stateside, I remember a satirical magazine called
Private Eye which had a penchant for hilarious inappropriateness….the
kind of biting humor the Brits are known for. 

 

This is how I remember it.  In late 1971 Emperor Hirohito of Japan was
on his way to London for the first time in 50 years.  It was also the
first time since the end of World War II.  Many in England and around
the world viewed the Emperor himself as a war criminal on whose watch,
China was ravaged, British colonies and prisoners brutalized and
murdered, millions of Japanese citizens were killed.  Needless to say,
Private Eye could not let the visit pass without comment.  It was a
cold November day in England and the Emperor was on a plane on his way
to England and the headlines read “There’s a nasty Nip in the air”. 
Needless to say it seems more than likely that Robert Hunter took
notice either at the time or several months later at the start of the
legendary Europe 72 tour.  I have made the connection in my mind every
time Jerry sang those words:

 

“As I was walkin’ round Grosvenor Square 

Not a chill to the winter but a nip to the air”  

 

Peace.  Charlie
  
deadsongs.vue.178 : Scarlet Begonias
permalink #11 of 23: gravity and gluttony (comet) Tue 13 Jun 06 21:10
    
Now there's a wonderful nugget!

I don't know if Hunter plucked the lyrics from our lives, or if this
is just a dream he dreamed long ago.
  
deadsongs.vue.178 : Scarlet Begonias
permalink #12 of 23: David Gans (tnf) Tue 13 Jun 06 21:45
    

Obviously, the phrase "a nip in the air" preceds both the lyric and the
headline.  Otherwise, the headline wouldn't be a play on words.
  
deadsongs.vue.178 : Scarlet Begonias
permalink #13 of 23: Charlie Hatfield (mr-charlie) Thu 15 Jun 06 12:22
    
I find it interesting that Hunter addresses the issue of
temperature/climate by saying that theres "not a chill to the winter". 
By saying so he draws direct attention to the play on words "but a Nip
to the air" as being other than having to do with the weather and puts
the emphasis on time (headline on a specific date) and place
(Grosevenor Square, London). Without speaking to the man one can never
be sure however, it seems very likely that Hunter opens Scarlet
Begonias by establishing time in addition to the obvious place.

As a personal aside, I always invisioned him talking about Janis
Joplin.  

"She had rings on her fingers and
bells on her shoes,
And I knew without askin' she was
into the blues
Scarlet begonias
tucked into her curls
I knew right away
she was not like other girls--
other girls"
  
deadsongs.vue.178 : Scarlet Begonias
permalink #14 of 23: Charlie Hatfield (mr-charlie) Thu 22 Jun 06 17:01
    
I haven't been able to actually find the article that I referenced. 
However, I have found plenty of other sources.  Try this one for more. 
I didn't remember the rest of the title. 

www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4153/is_20010219/ai_n11958862
  
deadsongs.vue.178 : Scarlet Begonias
permalink #15 of 23: David Dodd (ddodd) Wed 7 Jan 09 13:23
    
Posted on behalf of Bob Severs:

Hey man, I hope you don't mind me reaching out to you, but after
reading and agreeing with the numerous posts from
http://arts.ucsc.edu/gdead/agdl/scarlet.html , do you think Robert may
have played a simple word switch... 'too cool to open and too pat to
bluff'?  To me, that would follow suit with his contradictions
throughout the song.  I don't know, just up late and listening to some
old shows.  Namaste.  -bob
  
deadsongs.vue.178 : Scarlet Begonias
permalink #16 of 23: Marked from the Day That I was Born (ssol) Fri 9 Jan 09 03:45
    
Oh, so RH might just be shufflin' the cards. How novel ;-)
  
deadsongs.vue.178 : Scarlet Begonias
permalink #17 of 23: coal will turn to gray (comet) Fri 9 Jan 09 18:44
    
Sort of the Robert Hunter cut-up method?  I like it.
  
deadsongs.vue.178 : Scarlet Begonias
permalink #18 of 23: Rebecca E Sch (wendydarling) Fri 16 Jan 09 13:09
    <scribbled>
  
deadsongs.vue.178 : Scarlet Begonias
permalink #19 of 23: Wendy Darling (wendydarling) Sat 17 Jan 09 08:51
    
First, I want to say, that I love you guys, for each and every day
that you have breathed knowledge and understanding into my life. You
make me smarter, stronger, better, than I ever imagined I could be. And
the best part, that wheel just keeps on. So...

Historically in literature (and decor, and apparel) flowers have had a
coded meaning. This became extremely popular in the 19th century when
many books on 'the Language of Flowers' were printed in mass. (I think,
our current version is 'Love is in the Earth')  It became a fad for
proper ladies (and gentlemen) to acquire knowledge in the 'reading' of
flowers. And, I feel, Hunter utilizes this 'language' often (magnolia,
willow, red rose [that's in 1 song]).One of my favorites so far is
Althea. 
But I digress, right now we are talking about the girl wearing Scarlet
Begonia's. The color red and the begonia are both a symbolic warning,
begonia's  mean beware, some documentation also includes the meaning
'deformed' which can be read as 'different', I think. Which translates
to 'not like other girls'.
        
And I have to disagree, at least with a small bit of Ryan's
interpretation. I cannot believe that this girl is, "a bit foolish or
naive". This girls wearing it out there on her sleeve so to speak. And
as far as "her slight vanity," that misses the greatest part (as I see
it).
I believe, that what Hunter is saying, is that the hardest lesion to
learn is...
This (this whole encounter) is not rejection. This is...
        Strangers stopped strangers
        just to shake their hand
        Everybody's playing
        in the Heart of Gold Band!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  
deadsongs.vue.178 : Scarlet Begonias
permalink #20 of 23: Marked from the Day That I was Born (ssol) Sat 17 Jan 09 10:08
    
Nice!
  
deadsongs.vue.178 : Scarlet Begonias
permalink #21 of 23: David Gans (tnf) Thu 22 Jan 09 13:46
    
Very nice!
  
deadsongs.vue.178 : Scarlet Begonias
permalink #22 of 23: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Mon 6 Apr 09 11:43
    
I have just started learning to play and sing Scarlet Begonias. The
vibe I am getting is not rejection, but there is wistfulness there as
well as celebration. Most of all I am reading it as something of a
nostalgia trip, travel stories from London.
  
deadsongs.vue.178 : Scarlet Begonias
permalink #23 of 23: Alex Allan (alexallan) Mon 9 Jun 14 09:53
    
Another extract from Hunter's 1978 interview:

"[Scarlet Begonias] was originally pages and pages long. There was a
very, very involved story there. It was like quite a plot. And it
finally got honed down to just the basic moves. Which is best. ... It
was originally called "Bristol Girls" and there's one line in it that
I'm using [in my solo shows]. I am adding or changing lines and using
old verses that the Dead don't use in some of these songs. ... 'Look
all around this whole wide world, never find nothing stranger than a
Bristol girl.'"

[An echo of "Loser" in that line]

I had earlier noted Hunter singing that couplet, for example on August
8 1984 but hadn't known where it came from.

I'm glad Hunter's honing down produced the title change to "Scarlet
Begonias" - hard now to think of the song under a different title.
  



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