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deadsongs.vue.39 : China Cat Sunflower
permalink #0 of 39: David Dodd (ddodd) Tue 2 Sep 03 15:01
    
China Cat Sunflower
w: Hunter m: Garcia
AGDL: http://arts.ucsc.edu/gdead/agdl/china.html
LASF: http://www.whitegum.com/songfile/CHINACAT.HTM
  
deadsongs.vue.39 : China Cat Sunflower
permalink #1 of 39: Alex Allan (alexallan) Tue 2 Sep 03 18:31
    
China Cat Sunflower 
Lyrics: Robert Hunter
Music: Jerry Garcia

Copyright Ice Nine Publishing; used by permission.

Look for a while at the China Cat Sunflower
proud-walking jingle in the midnight sun
Copper-dome bodhi drip a silver kimono
like a crazy-quilt star gown
through a dream night wind

Chorus
China cat
China cat
China cat
China cat

Krazy Kat peeking through a lace bandana
like a one-eyed Cheshire
like a diamond-eyed jack
A leaf of all colors plays
a golden string fiddle
to a double-e waterfall over my back

[chorus]

Comic book colors on a violin river
crying Leonardo words
from out a silk trombone
I rang a silent bell
beneath a shower of pearls
in the eagle winged palace
of the queen Chinee

[chorus]
  
deadsongs.vue.39 : China Cat Sunflower
permalink #2 of 39: David Dodd (ddodd) Tue 12 Oct 04 13:52
    
Posting this email sent to deadsongs:

Date: Tue, 12 Oct 2004 15:19:18 -0400
From: Conrad Miller <conradmiller@rcn.com>
To: deadsongs@well.com
Subject: China Cat: double-e waterfall

It recently occurred to me that the mysterious "double-e" in China Cat might
be
a reference to influential poet E. E. Cummings.

From "An Unofficial E. E. Cummings Starting Point"
http://members.tripod.com/~DWipf/cummings.html#Links

"E. E. Cummings had a special relationship with Krazy Kat . . . his favorite
comic strip."

See also:
"Excerpt from 'A Foreword to Krazy' from A MISCELLANY REVISED by E. E.
Cummings"
http://www.krazy.com/cummings.htm

And finally, here's a link to E. E. Cummings's "waterfall" (oil on
cardboard)
http://www.eecummingsart.com/eec.php?eec=0914

Hunter's inspiration for "a double-e waterfall"?

Cheers...

Conrad
  
deadsongs.vue.39 : China Cat Sunflower
permalink #3 of 39: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Wed 13 Oct 04 06:32
    
Way to go, Conrad!!
  
deadsongs.vue.39 : China Cat Sunflower
permalink #4 of 39: from JIM FRONK (tnf) Wed 26 Oct 05 11:47
    



Jim Fronk writes:


 I came to think Krazy Kat is a reference to Jimi Hendrix. Was rumored to
wear a LSD lace(d) bandana during his concerts so he was always peeking.
 In the same verse a leaf of all colors (All colors combined make black)
playing a golden string fiddle. Double E Waterfall the guitar has 2 E-Strings
and misical notes can be describe as cascading.
 The Silent Bell is a 1930's slot machine that was relatively quiet, the
shower of pearls would then be the silver jackpot, the Eagle Winged (building
addition) Palace a Casino?
  
deadsongs.vue.39 : China Cat Sunflower
permalink #5 of 39: Alex Allan (alexallan) Wed 26 Oct 05 23:29
    
I'm dubious about some of these suggestions, but the fact that the
"silent bell" is a type of slot machine is fascinating (and well
documented, I discover).
  
deadsongs.vue.39 : China Cat Sunflower
permalink #6 of 39: Gary Burnett (jera) Thu 27 Oct 05 10:08
    
I'm especially dubious of the Krazy Kat suggestion, since 1) there is
a perfectly obvious referent already (the wonderfully surrealistic
George Harriman comic strip and 2) isn't it pretty well documented that
the Dead were not, to put it simply, Jimi Hendrix's biggest fans?
  
deadsongs.vue.39 : China Cat Sunflower
permalink #7 of 39: Gary Burnett (jera) Thu 27 Oct 05 10:12
    
Apropos of nothing (there's no lace bandana here), but this is a great
panel from Krazy Kat:

http://stevestiles.com/krazee1.gif
  
deadsongs.vue.39 : China Cat Sunflower
permalink #8 of 39: from JIM FRONK (tnf) Thu 27 Oct 05 16:05
    



Jim Fronk writes:


   I know who Krazy Kat is and Hunter's manuscript does have both words
Capital K's. Maybe I'm all wet on this one if so what is the meaning of lace
bandana or leaf of all colors.
  As far as Double E being a guitar not a train is a little more probable
even though it is referenced in a Dylan song the Dead cover as a train.Hunter
refers to the Golden String Fiddle maybe the double e is saying it really has
6 strings also you carry a guitar over your back. Note the original
manuscript describes the waterfall as Silver Tinsel. Why did this change?
  The silent bell as a slot machine may be right on, and the jackpot  could
be something intangible or like the saying I hit the jackpot. The Eagle
Winged Castle may not be a casino but I wanted to give people the idea that a
wing is also a building addition and not assume its an animal part. The word
wing is interesting as it could be part of the eagle or castle or BOTH.
  
deadsongs.vue.39 : China Cat Sunflower
permalink #9 of 39: beneath the blue suburban skies (aud) Thu 27 Oct 05 19:23
    
has anybody ever asked hunter??
  
deadsongs.vue.39 : China Cat Sunflower
permalink #10 of 39: Lightning in a Box (unkljohn) Fri 28 Oct 05 05:48
    
I always thought it was random LSD images. I never tried to attach any 
meaning to the lyrics, myself.
  
deadsongs.vue.39 : China Cat Sunflower
permalink #11 of 39: Gary Burnett (jera) Fri 28 Oct 05 06:48
    
I always liked Hunter's comment in "A Box Of Rain":

"Nobody ever asked me the meaning of this song.  People seem to know
exactly what I'm talking about.  It's good that a few things in this
world are clear to all of us."
  
deadsongs.vue.39 : China Cat Sunflower
permalink #12 of 39: beneath the blue suburban skies (aud) Fri 28 Oct 05 08:06
    
ha! forgot about that.

i cornered hunter in a bar one night in '76 where he was playing with...um,
what was that band called...Road Hog? anyway. i had scribbled lyrics to
China Cat in a book and he filled in the blanks for me. i remember saying
"whatever the fuck that means" and he just laughed and didn't elaborate. but
i have to admit i wasn't into finding out the deep meaning...
  
deadsongs.vue.39 : China Cat Sunflower
permalink #13 of 39: David Gans (tnf) Fri 28 Oct 05 09:42
    

I have some coomments about "China Cat" in my first (1977) interview with
Hunter.  I'll try to find the transcript today.
  
deadsongs.vue.39 : China Cat Sunflower
permalink #14 of 39: David Dodd (ddodd) Fri 28 Oct 05 20:30
    
And a great interview that was, too! I remember being so RELIEVED to
finally have the lyrics in hand. Whew.
  
deadsongs.vue.39 : China Cat Sunflower
permalink #15 of 39: Christian Crumlish (xian) Sun 13 Nov 05 23:11
    
you sometimes (rarely) get a straight answer out of hunter, but i
think he prefers enigmatic to transparent.

i like the transposition implicit in one-eyed cheshire like a
diamond-eyed jack, since "one-eyed jack" is the familiar term.

<jera> where is it documented about the Dead not particularly being
fans of Jimi? what were they smoking?
  
deadsongs.vue.39 : China Cat Sunflower
permalink #16 of 39: Gary Burnett (jera) Mon 14 Nov 05 07:17
    
I don't know where I read it -- an interview somewhere, perhaps -- but
it was a long time ago.

As I recall, it was more personal than musical -- he blew them off for
an on-stage  jam session that was all set up, & they weren't too happy
about it, so stood him up for something in return.

But I could be completely wrong!
  
deadsongs.vue.39 : China Cat Sunflower
permalink #17 of 39: Christian Crumlish (xian) Sun 20 Nov 05 21:28
    
oh, yeah, i remember that story... didn't get that they didn't like
his music from that, though, more that they didn't like his rockstar
attitude.
  
deadsongs.vue.39 : China Cat Sunflower
permalink #18 of 39: searchlight casting (jstrahl) Tue 3 Jan 06 12:37
    
He was one of the very few people from that era they never jammed
with. That is, from similar genre, i'm not counting Tom Jones or the
Association or....
  
deadsongs.vue.39 : China Cat Sunflower
permalink #19 of 39: Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Tue 13 Mar 07 22:54
    
This is one of my favorite Hunter lyrics. I don't see the Hendrix
connection, but for me RH has painted this evocative portrait of a Zen
beatnik out "proud-walking." I'm imagining him strolling The Haight at
it's haighday.

I rang a silent bell
beneath a shower of pearls

What a great koan!  It ties in aurally with "proud-walking jingle in
the midnight sun." And are these the showers of a Double-E waterfall?
or showers related to the drips of the Kimono?  I love his visual
contradictions (silent bell/ midnight sun/ silk (sounding?) trombone)
that tie together so implausibly well.  This torquing, mind-twisting
approach of Hunter's reminds me of "Attics of My Mind." In fact several
passages in this song do, except that "China Cat" strikes me more as a
trippy caricature compared to "Attics" as a wild sojourn through the
senses.  

And then from this most untraditional space imaginable, "I Know You
Rider" segues us back down to that traditional arrangement with it's
"I'm gonna miss you when you're gone" lament. Maybe with the medley,
the Dead are suggesting that it's our lit up (enlightened?) Krazy
Cheshire Bodhi Jack Cat that we're all going miss once he's gone.
Otherwise, why this pairing of such incongrous songs?  

Robert Hunter in "China Cat" and "Attics" certainly rivals Dylan's
trippy evocations in the verses of "Mr. Tamborine Man."

Two of the greatest lyricist-poets of our era, me thinks.


Scott
  
deadsongs.vue.39 : China Cat Sunflower
permalink #20 of 39: Marked from the Day That I was Born (ssol) Wed 14 Mar 07 06:23
    
Indeed they are the best, along with Lennon and McCartney. They're the
only ones I could lump together, although they are very different in
the early parts of their careers, and are very different from their
young selves, today… well, the three that are still stomping the Terra.
  
deadsongs.vue.39 : China Cat Sunflower
permalink #21 of 39: Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Wed 14 Mar 07 23:21
    
There is no argument on Lennon and McCartney (as long as we limit Paul
to the period from Rubber Soul through the breakup of the Beatles. 
John wrote great lyrics after the breakup, but it was his avantgarde
artistic sensibility that, seemingly, impelled Paul to write with more
of an edge. Can you 'imagine' John tolerating 'silly little love songs'
on a Beatles album?).  As for complete bodies of work filled with
great lyric-poetry how can you do better than Dylan, McCartney, Lennon,
and Hunter?  They are the cream.  Of course, select lyrics of the era
by Jagger ("Sympathy for the Devil") several Joni Mitchell tunes, many
Neil Young songs, The Dead's Barlow--and too many others to
mention--rise to the level of fine poetry, as well.
Scott
  
deadsongs.vue.39 : China Cat Sunflower
permalink #22 of 39: Michael D. Sullivan (avogadro) Thu 15 Mar 07 21:01
    
Definitely include McCartney only when paired with Lennon.  He needed
that edge.  Both of them largely sucked after the Beatles.
  
deadsongs.vue.39 : China Cat Sunflower
permalink #23 of 39: Gary Burnett (jera) Fri 16 Mar 07 05:46
    
Just for the record: milage does vary on that.
  
deadsongs.vue.39 : China Cat Sunflower
permalink #24 of 39: Lightning in a Box (unkljohn) Fri 16 Mar 07 06:43
    
Yes it does. And for me, that especially means John Lennon.
  
deadsongs.vue.39 : China Cat Sunflower
permalink #25 of 39: Marked from the Day That I was Born (ssol) Fri 16 Mar 07 10:39
    
Those guys, McCartney and Lennon could have retired after the Beatles
and still enjoyed their reputations. But, then we wouldn't have
"Imagine" nor Paul's amazing tunes on the largely overlooked "London
Town". That little piece of work makes up for having to endlessly hear
"Silly Love Songs" on 70's radio.

As for Dylan, I don't know how the old bastard still does it. Decades
ago, I swore I'd never pay to see him flop around and muddle thru his
own tunes. But for the past years recent, he just gets better in every
dimension.

Hunter! His exploration of prose of late has been amazing. The guy can
really stretch that terse, crystaline thing he does, and not break it.
He's gone way beyond the wonderful fingerpainting of his ealy years.
  

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