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
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
David Dodd (ddodd) Wed 22 Oct 03 08:40
Posting this message sent to ddodd on 10/20/03: From: Ryan Nellett [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Monday, October 20, 2003 7:56 PM To: email@example.com 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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*
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.
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.
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 70s 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 Theres 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
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.
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.
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"
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
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
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 ;-)
coal will turn to gray (comet) Fri 9 Jan 09 18:44
Sort of the Robert Hunter cut-up method? I like it.
Rebecca E Sch (wendydarling) Fri 16 Jan 09 13:09
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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Marked from the Day That I was Born (ssol) Sat 17 Jan 09 10:08
David Gans (tnf) Thu 22 Jan 09 13:46
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.
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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