deadsongs.vue.233 : David Dodd, Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
permalink #0 of 127: Hal Royaltey (hal) Thu 15 Dec 05 00:52
    
Turning to an important part of America's musical heritage (and certainly
a part of the soul of the Well) we welcome David Dodd, author of "The 
Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics".


David Dodd is the City Librarian of San Rafael, California. He has published
two previous books about the band (The Grateful Dead and the Deadheads: An
Annotated Bibliography, 1997; and The Grateful Dead Reader, 2000). He lives
in Petaluma, California, with his wife Diana Spaulding and his two children.


Our interviewer is David Gans.  David is a musician, author, radio producer, 
and one of the hosts of inkwell.vue.  He's contributed three volumes to the 
groaning shelf of Grateful Dead books, and various granules of his scholarship 
appear in David Dodd's book.
  
deadsongs.vue.233 : David Dodd, Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
permalink #1 of 127: David Gans (tnf) Thu 15 Dec 05 12:11
    

Welcome, David!  I will begin our conversation by quoting one of our WeLL
neighbors, John McAlpin:

> I'd like to say this book will take an honored place on my bookshelf.

> It won't. It will never be far from my hands when I am listening to music.
> Or thinking about GD music. This is an absolute treasure. I was stunned by
> how beautiful it is. The illustrations, the layout, all are perfect.

I agree with John wholeheartedly!

Let me start by asking why this sort of documentation is appropriate for the
work of a rock band.  What is the big deal about these songs?
  
deadsongs.vue.233 : David Dodd, Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
permalink #2 of 127: David Gans (tnf) Thu 15 Dec 05 16:37
    

I interviewed David on KPFA 11/2/2005, and I have posted MP3s (as edited for
the national Grateful Dead Hour) at  http://www.gdhour.com/music/dodd.html
  
deadsongs.vue.233 : David Dodd, Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
permalink #3 of 127: David Dodd (ddodd) Thu 15 Dec 05 17:59
    
Does that mean I shouldn't repeat or contradict myself? I fear I will do
both!

I think this sort of documentation would be appropriate for ANYTHING in
which someone is interested. If there's one thing I've discovered over the
course of my time in librarianship, it's that there are experts beyond
anything you might expect in pretty much every field of knowledge, and that
includes the most arcane, minuscule areas within every field. So it is with
Dead-dom, as many of us have found out. There's always someone who knows
more about the band, its music, the words, etc. There's always someone who
has been to more shows, has more tapes, or whatever. My own approach has
been simply to follow my own interests and whims. I have done these
annotations not because I think I'm particularly qualified, but because it's
been my way of having fun--my way of enjoying the heck out of the songs.

That said, I do of course think there's something special about THESE songs.
Clearly Hunter and Barlow have created a body of work that holds endless
fascination for a large number of folks. So I think it's worth looking
closely at the words, as works of art worthy of close examination. I find
something new in them almost every time I look, and that, to me, is the mark
of art, or one of the marks of art.
  
deadsongs.vue.233 : David Dodd, Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
permalink #4 of 127: ray (riescher) Fri 16 Dec 05 04:49
    
Can you give us a bit of history of the project. How did the idea for the
annotated lyrics web site start? How long had you contemplated turning the
collected information into book form? And a fine book it is. It's much more
interactive for the reader. Take Hunter's own "Box of Rain" book of lyrics.
That's not a book I've spent a lot of time with over the years. I've mostly
used it as a reference tool to check a lyric here or there. The annotated
lyrics add insight and knowledge to the periphery of the art.
  
deadsongs.vue.233 : David Dodd, Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
permalink #5 of 127: David Dodd (ddodd) Fri 16 Dec 05 08:36
    
The idea for starting the web site came pretty much as soon as I discovered
the web in 1994. I was working as the head of cataloging at the University
of Colorado in Colorado Springs, and the job came with the status of
faculty, and the title of Assistant Professor. To make full professor, I
would need to gain tenure. And to do that, I would need to undertake
research and publication. I saw the exploration of a literary text using the
new hypertext technology as an opportunity towards tenure. As far as I have
been able to determine, the Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics website
(http://arts.ucsc.edu/gdead/agdl) was the first use of the web to annotate a
literary text.

As soon as I began to post the work I'd been accumulating on small catalog
cards for the past ten years (I started in around 1982, while I was working
at the Fremont Main Library in Alameda County), I found myself spending
hours learning html and doing additional research. Fortunately, that kind of
time was built into the job, and no one seemed to think twice about my
spending work time--lots of it--building a website about the Grateful Dead.

Since I observed intellectual property laws and always asked for Ice Nine's
permission before posting the lyrics to any songs, I believe I cultivated a
good relationship from the start with the Dead organization. I thought it
could become a book very early on--and approached Oxford University Press
about publishing it. They liked the idea, and I went to Ice Nine, who said
(this was 1995) "no, not just yet." And they continued to say that, without
completely discouraging me, for the next nine years. (Hmmm. the project was
on ice for nine years...)

In August of 2004, I had an inquiry from another publisher about possibly
just publishing the annotations, sans lyrics. I wrote to Ice Nine just in
case, and they came back within 24 hours with a "yes, it's time." So I had
from September to March to turn the website (a sprawling, ungainly thing)
into a book (perhaps also sprawling and ungainly).

I'm glad to hear that the interactive nature of the thing carries over into
book form, at least somewhat. And I will keep the website going, as time
permits! (The arts server at UCSC, however, was recently hacked, and I
currently have no access to make modifications to my pages.)
  
deadsongs.vue.233 : David Dodd, Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
permalink #6 of 127: David Gans (tnf) Fri 16 Dec 05 10:22
    

Not sprawling and ungainly at all, sir: a delightful trip!

Made more so by the illustrations.  Please tell us about the artist, and
about how you worked together.
  
deadsongs.vue.233 : David Dodd, Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
permalink #7 of 127: ray (riescher) Fri 16 Dec 05 10:33
    
>>
I'm glad to hear that the interactive nature of the thing carries over into
book form, at least somewhat.
>>
I find it interactve in many ways. Much more than hyperext and notation. The
notations reference other music and literary sources that I've been prompted
to seek out or find out more about.

I'd imagine, David, that you've done andenormous amount of reseach and
discovery during the life of this collection. Can you talk about specific
music or other works of art that you've researched, and ultimately been
turned on to, as a result of this endeavor?
  
deadsongs.vue.233 : David Dodd, Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
permalink #8 of 127: Steve Silberman (digaman) Fri 16 Dec 05 11:25
    
David, welcome!  The book is not only marvelously written and researched, 
the design is exquisite.  Congratulations.

I'm curious -- as a librarian and literary mind, what are your personal
favorite moments in GD lyrics, and why?

For what it's worth, one of my favorite turns of phrase is the line "all
that fancy paints as fair" in the Terrapin suite by Hunter and Garcia.  
The phrasing is so euphonious it can just slip through your mind without
much scrutiny, but if you look hard at the meaning of the words, there's a
very profound observation there about how our feelings about people and
things influence our perception of them -- it's almost canonical Buddhism,
but expressed in language that strikes me as nearly Shakespearian in its
phonetic compression and pure gorgeousness.  I love how Hunter resurrects 
the old meaning of the word "fancy" in it (as in, "I fancy you"), how 
"fancy" has homophonic resonance with words like "fantasy" which 
underscores the meaning of the line, how "paints" suggests both artfulness 
and deception or illusion (as in Buddhist samsara or Hindu maya), and how 
the alliteration of the Fs fine-tunes the music of the phrase.

Obviously, I have many other favorite moments in the songs (I adore 
Barlow's phrase "the catch-colt draws the coffin cart" in Cassidy for the 
same sort of music), but I'm more curious about hearing yours.

Thanks for being here, and mazel tov on a beautiful book!
  
deadsongs.vue.233 : David Dodd, Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
permalink #9 of 127: (automated posting) (picospan) Fri 16 Dec 05 12:07
    
<linked from inkwell.vue.261 to deadsongs.vue.233 by confteam>
  
deadsongs.vue.233 : David Dodd, Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
permalink #10 of 127: Dan Levy (danlevy) Fri 16 Dec 05 12:55
    

Hi David.... how have the Dead's lyricists worked with you over the
years as your project evolved...

And...in the decade since you began the project, have you seen any 
web annotation software available that you wished you had at the beginning?
  
deadsongs.vue.233 : David Dodd, Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
permalink #11 of 127: David Dodd (ddodd) Fri 16 Dec 05 13:57
    
Whoa! I turn around for a couple of hours and whoosh! I have questions
to answer. To all, FYI, today and tomorrow are moving days for me--my
family and I are picking up and moving across town, to the west side of
Petaluma, from the east side where we have lived for six and a half
years. So I am loading and unloading trucks and boxes, trying to get
the place ready for the movers who will handle the large stuff
tomorrow. If anyone's in the Petaluma area and wants to help, please
feel free to email me!

Now, to the questions.

I will work backwards, since I can see Dan's question hovering right
there above this little window. Hello back, Dan! Thanks for coming.
Y'know, I really had very little, close to zero, interaction with
Hunter or Barlow over the years, aside from their very gracious
permission to use the full text of the lyrics. Hunter did provide me
with encouragement early on, by dropping me some key emails. The first
was in response to a pretty tortured and byzantine annotation I wrote
for the phrase "Marsh King's daughter" in "Mountains of the Moon."
Finally, after reading all my speculation about who the Marsh King
might've been (including, I think, the idea that the marshes were the
same as the fens, and therefore the Marsh King might've been King of
Fenario...), Hunter sent me an email that said: "The Marsh King's
Daughter is a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. I just wanted to
say that." And he sent me a nice note about my work on "Uncle John's
Band," saying that he thought the discussion was heading in a good
direction, when I started posting info about the New Lost City
Ramblers. 

I have only met either lyricist very briefly. Hunter signed my copy of
The Grateful Dead Reader and said, "Now here's something I _want_ to
sign!" And I met Barlow at a library conference, and he actually
thanked me for doing the annotated lyrics website. That was kind.

About web annotation software. You know, I had an idea very early on
in the web's existence that there should be a little plug-in that would
allow you to highlight any word and execute a web search on that word.
Yahoo seemed interested for about a minute, but I don't think it was
ever developed. Google was what I would've wanted, and now it's there,
and I use it a lot. I am eager to see the digitization of more and more
print sources--that will make this kind of work faster. 

Steve! Thanks for dropping in! Favorite lyric moments for me...hmmm. I
have a lot. Interestingly, many of them correspond to musical bridges.
But not always. I love the "wind in the willows" moment in "Scarlet
Begonias," and the "see here how everything lead up to this day" in
"Black Peter." Gee, there are so many, once I start thinking about it.
I note, Steve, that you picked alliterative phrases, and I seem to
recall some long-ago thing you wrote about the CSN song "Guinevere,"
which also contains those long alliterative lines. A pattern?

Ray--hi! I've discovered a lot of music, art, and little corners of
human endeavor as a result of the work on the annotations. I've been
pointed at the standards in American music repeatedly. I found out
about Crazy Otto. I've gone back to TS Eliot again and again, and to
the Bible. Let me think more about this one.

Gotta go for now! I'll get back to David's question about the artist,
Jim Carpenter. He merits a longer more thoughtful reply. 
  
deadsongs.vue.233 : David Dodd, Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
permalink #12 of 127: Steve Silberman (digaman) Fri 16 Dec 05 15:28
    
Best of luck with your move, David!

> "see here how everything lead up to this day" in
 "Black Peter." 

This line catalyzed one of my all-time classic Dead show psychedelic
epiphanies, standing near the stage at the Frost Amphitheater.


> alliterative

Yep.  I was schooled in poetry and its attention to phonemes.  As Louis
Zukovsky said, describing the terrain of language he wanted to explore in
his poems:  "Upper limit music, lower limit speech."
  
deadsongs.vue.233 : David Dodd, Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
permalink #13 of 127: Dave Waite (dwaite) Fri 16 Dec 05 16:01
    
Hello David-
I am enjoying your book and know it will be the coffee table book.  There is
just so much to open up and see.  I've opened up the pages to see which song
I'm going to read the annotations.  The artwork is beautiful, and I know
this is a collaboration, but would you care to talk about how or maybe why
you chose specific full page pieces?
  
deadsongs.vue.233 : David Dodd, Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
permalink #14 of 127: David Dodd (ddodd) Fri 16 Dec 05 17:53
    
OK, it's definitely time to talk about the artwork! It would be great
if Jim Carpenter was inon this interview, come to think of it. Let me
ask him! Meantime, I'll do my best. 

First off, the little illustrations were actually my wife, Diana
Spaulding's, idea. She's also a librarian, and she pointed out how a
really good reference book often has small but highly pertinent
illustrations, in the manner of a good dictionary. So that was the
starting point. And then Alan Trist and I thought it would be great to
have a book without any photographs, just drawings and paintings. And
the book designer, Harry Choron, came up with the font and the general
layout, along with Jim and Alan and me. We spent an entire two days
holed up at a table at the Panama Hotel in San Rafael, working out the
design. (We kept railroading our publisher, Free Press. I must say they
were very good about it most of the time!)

Heck, I'm losing the thread here. So: Alan had written a book called
_The Water of Life: A Tale of the Grateful Dead_, with illustrations by
Jim Carpenter. I thought those were wonderful, and Alan asked Jim if
he'd like to be in on this project. He was interested, and wound up
doing all of the drawings--not sure of the exact number, but he drew
over 200 pieces, most of which we used. Some we asked him to do, some
he came up with on his own. 

The cover is Jim's, as are two of the color paintings--he chose to
interpret "Friend of the Devil" and "St. Stephen." He also picked out
which songs he connected with in a way that warranted half-page
illustrations--we only asked that they be scattered through the book. 

We also used four pieces from the first Grateful Dead songbook in the
color section, and two paintings by Tim Truman, one of which was done
for the book, of "Throwing Stones"--really a wicked image. And oh yeah,
we have three drawings by this guy named Jerry Garcia...the two
lyricists, and his "Wharf Rat."
  
deadsongs.vue.233 : David Dodd, Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
permalink #15 of 127: Pat Adams (scarlet) Sat 17 Dec 05 10:25
    
Wooo! I've been waiting for this discussion to start, and my copy of the 
book is fat with Post-Its. 

I have to ask about "He's Gone", specifically, "Smile, smile, smile" I 
thought it was 'obviously' a reference to the WWI tune - 

        Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag
        And smile, smile, smile

but you didn't mention that. This is part of the beauty of these songs!
  
deadsongs.vue.233 : David Dodd, Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
permalink #16 of 127: Steve Silberman (digaman) Sun 18 Dec 05 15:04
    
Heh David, you were just FARKed.  :)
  
deadsongs.vue.233 : David Dodd, Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
permalink #17 of 127: Jeff Loomis (jal) Sun 18 Dec 05 20:05
    
Looking forward to seeing this move.  Good luck with the book.
It always seems that inkwell authors seem to have some sort of
real life thing going on during their two week tenure.
  
deadsongs.vue.233 : David Dodd, Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
permalink #18 of 127: Jeff Loomis (jal) Sun 18 Dec 05 20:08
    
Oops. Edit error.  Looking forward to "book", good luck with the "move"
  
deadsongs.vue.233 : David Dodd, Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
permalink #19 of 127: David Dodd (ddodd) Sun 18 Dec 05 20:30
    
I like the transposition of "move" and "book."  "Bookin'" on over to a
different side of town here in Petaluma...and we've pretty much
landed. It's Sunday and I'm bushed...and we don't have any heat yet,
but otherwise it went ok. Lots of stuff still in storage. But enough
about the book. I'm here to talk about the move!

Pat--gee! You're right about the "smile smile smile" reference. How
did I miss that? Something for the web site and for the revised
edition... I do like the Willima HOward Taft reference, though. A great
campaign slogan: Smile smile smile.

And Steve, you sent me on a chase looking to find out what FARK'ed
means. I found this set of definitions:
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=fark, none of which
really seems to fit. Can you define for me? 

Looking forward to more from the post-its in Pat's copy of the book!

I'm on a dial-up modem right now, so I'm not sure when I'll once again
have DSL working. I hope before this conversation officially winds
down!
  
deadsongs.vue.233 : David Dodd, Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
permalink #20 of 127: Jeff Loomis (jal) Mon 19 Dec 05 02:41
    
I am curious about Fenario.  Haven't seen the book or gone too
deeply into the website.
  
deadsongs.vue.233 : David Dodd, Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
permalink #21 of 127: David Gans (tnf) Mon 19 Dec 05 10:58
    

David:  http://www.fark.com/
  
deadsongs.vue.233 : David Dodd, Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
permalink #22 of 127: David Gans (tnf) Mon 19 Dec 05 18:32
    

What's your favorite entry?  Or maybe I should ask, which song has the most
references?
  
deadsongs.vue.233 : David Dodd, Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
permalink #23 of 127: Jeff Loomis (jal) Mon 19 Dec 05 18:39
    
What was the question that "fark.com" was the answer to?
  
deadsongs.vue.233 : David Dodd, Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
permalink #24 of 127: David Gans (tnf) Mon 19 Dec 05 19:28
    

See <16> and <19>
  
deadsongs.vue.233 : David Dodd, Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
permalink #25 of 127: David Dodd (ddodd) Mon 19 Dec 05 20:11
    
My favorite entry--good question! I'm pretty sure the song with the
most entries is "Ramble On Rose," which was the song that got me going
on the project in the first place. Many points of reference there.
Figuring out who Billy Sunday and Crazy Otto were was great fun. I
think my favorite entry, over time, though, has to be the phrase
"double-E" from "China Cat Sunflower." As I say in the footnote for the
phrase, I'm beginning to believe, now, that Bob Dylan made up the
phrase himself for "It Takes a Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry,"
because the train people (train people are even more fanatical than
Deadheads, I think) can't come up with a meaning from the train world.
So, people have come up with all kinds of great speculation as to what
a "double-E waterfall" might be. My favorite of those is the painting
by e.e. cummings entitled "Waterfall." Amazingly.  
  

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