deadsongs.vue.68 : The Eleven
permalink #0 of 17: David Dodd (ddodd) Tue 2 Sep 03 15:14
    
The Eleven
w: Hunter m: Lesh
AGDL: http://arts.ucsc.edu/gdead/agdl/eleven.html
LASF: http://www.whitegum.com/songfile/ELEVEN.HTM
  
deadsongs.vue.68 : The Eleven
permalink #1 of 17: Alex Allan (alexallan) Tue 2 Sep 03 19:40
    
The Eleven 
Lyrics: Robert Hunter
Music: Phil Lesh

Copyright Ice Nine Publishing; used by permission.

No more time to tell how
This is the season of what
Now is the time of returning
With our thought jewels polished and gleaming

Now is the time past believing
The child has relinquished the reign
Now is the test of the boomerang
Tossed in the night of redeeming

Eight-sided whispering hallelujah hatrack
Seven-faced marble eye transitory dream doll
Six proud walkers on jingle-bell rainbow
Five men writing in fingers of gold
Four men tracking the great white sperm whale
Three girls wait in a foreign dominion
Ride in the whalebelly
Fade away in moonlight
Sink beneath the waters
To the coral sands below
Now is the time of returning
  
deadsongs.vue.68 : The Eleven
permalink #2 of 17: Marked from the Day That I was Born (ssol) Sat 25 Oct 03 11:24
    
Fwiw, my favourite lyric in a particular way... beyond fully fathoming
thanks to its' mirror-hall structure of references to references to
reference... well, I guess that was the point.

"Paging Mssrs Joyce, Elliot, Melville, all contirbutors to the various
Bibles of Human-kind, to the Saffron Buddha-phone. Please walk in step
and wait your turn.. Your call is waiting."
  
deadsongs.vue.68 : The Eleven
permalink #3 of 17: Christian Crumlish (xian) Tue 28 Oct 03 15:28
    
plus, now really is the test of the boomerang
  
deadsongs.vue.68 : The Eleven
permalink #4 of 17: Marked from the Day That I was Born (ssol) Wed 29 Oct 03 11:24
    
...Tossed in the night of redeeming...
  
deadsongs.vue.68 : The Eleven
permalink #5 of 17: and the bees made honey in Delilah's jaw (xian) Wed 29 Oct 03 16:37
    
where else?
  
deadsongs.vue.68 : The Eleven
permalink #6 of 17: Marked from the Day That I was Born (ssol) Thu 30 Oct 03 08:16
    
Furthur ;-)
  
deadsongs.vue.68 : The Eleven
permalink #7 of 17: Tom Kozal (tkozal) Mon 10 Nov 03 11:19
    
from my old studies of Schubert Leider, I must know this, as it will
be essential to analysing the song: What came first? the riff in 11:
3-3-3-2, or the words? 

Didn't the guys have a jam in 11, and Hunter came up with words later?
  
deadsongs.vue.68 : The Eleven
permalink #8 of 17: David Dodd (ddodd) Thu 13 Nov 03 14:22
    
Always a good question! Almost impossible to get it answered, except by
chance luck. I'd say it's extremely likely that they had the jam, and Hunter
came up with the words. But who knows?
  
deadsongs.vue.68 : The Eleven
permalink #9 of 17: the hunter gets captured by the gamers (xian) Sat 15 Nov 03 15:58
    
only the shadow do
  
deadsongs.vue.68 : The Eleven
permalink #10 of 17: Adam Perry (adamice9) Mon 1 Dec 03 16:30
    
I like how Weir altered the lyric, specifically in the version thats
on the "Strange Remain" Other Ones live album. I think the altered
version really showed that "the Eleven" is a wonderful song on its own
and not just a transition, as Garcia so humbly called it interviews
when asked why they stopped playing it.
  
deadsongs.vue.68 : The Eleven
permalink #11 of 17: David Dodd (ddodd) Mon 25 Feb 08 08:47
    
Posted on behalf of Joe Vanucci:

Hi David,

I wanted to offer the idea that perhaps there *is* unity in The
Eleven.  Hunter's counting starts at 8, not 11, but it could be
thought of like this:

8  7  6  |  5  4  3

or

8  7  6
3  4  5

where the sums of the columns each equal 11.  Like bookends.  Or, as
Hunter alludes "Now is the time of returning".  Returning to 3, the
closure for 8, if you will.
  
deadsongs.vue.68 : The Eleven
permalink #12 of 17: David Gans (tnf) Mon 25 Feb 08 10:16
    
Nice@!
  
deadsongs.vue.68 : The Eleven
permalink #13 of 17: David Dodd (ddodd) Mon 11 May 09 13:39
    
The Dead played The Eleven at Shoreline last night, and sang all the
words quite audibly. Wonderful to hear. 

The verse was sung more than once, and Weir came out with a new coda:
"This is the season of 'what now?'" Then he riffed for awhile on "What
now?" Fun!
  
deadsongs.vue.68 : The Eleven
permalink #14 of 17: from DAVID KLEIN (tnf) Fri 8 Feb 13 14:50
    


David Klein writes:


I'm surprised that you don't reference the famous song lyric,
"Eleven are the stars in Yosef's dream"
from the Pesach song,
"One is HaShem"

David Klein, Southfield, Michigan
  
deadsongs.vue.68 : The Eleven
permalink #15 of 17: Alex Allan (alexallan) Thu 21 Mar 13 02:34
    
No one has mentioned Hunter's little book of poems "Idiot's Delight",
which has 11 sections of 11 poems each of 11 lines.

XI,3
A wandering
device--I've
said my piece
& wish to 
shut up &
repaint the sky
but this work
requires exact
count of verses.
Eight more
to be precise.
  
deadsongs.vue.68 : The Eleven
permalink #16 of 17: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Thu 21 Mar 13 14:29
    
Ha!
  
deadsongs.vue.68 : The Eleven
permalink #17 of 17: David Dodd (ddodd) Fri 29 Aug 14 10:57
    
This week's post on my deadnet blog:
http://www.dead.net/features/greatest-stories-ever-told/greatest-stories-ever-
told-eleven

Here it is: 

Blair Jackson once wrote a very fun piece, “The Swirl According to
Carp: A Meditation on the Grateful Dead,” under the pseudonym Jack
Britton, in which he characterized Grateful Dead music as “the swirl!
The swirl!” 
“The Eleven” epitomizes that sense of the swirl better than any other
single piece. The composition, credited to Phil Lesh, rushes headlong
into its eleven-beat time signature, carrying us madly along as we
dance to its various combinations of meter. Sometimes I hear two fours
and a three, sometimes three threes and a two…sometimes, I think I
really do feel The Eleven. 
And that is an almost mystical state of being, when you don’t need all
those intermediary anchors, but the one comes along in just the right
place each time. And the other beats aren’t pretend “ones” or twos or
threes or fours, but counts one through eleven. 
Live / Dead, for me, was the perfect album, which I used alongside
American Beauty to demonstrate the band’s range. 
When I listen to that album’s version of “The Eleven,” I always hear
something new in the dense instrumentation. I can pay attention in a
focused way to any one instrument, or to the interplay, or let it all
wash over me. 
And then, the vocals come in. 
Hunter’s poem seems, if not straightforward, at least semi-coherent.
But that is not the way the Dead do the song. Vocal parts and sections
of the lyrics are layered, in a way that mirrors the layering of the
instruments. Alex Allan, on his Grateful Dead Lyric and Song-finder
site, does a fine job of attempting to transcribe the lyric as sung:
Weir & Lesh
No more time to tell how
This is the season of what
Garcia
Eight-sided whispering hallelujah hatrack
Weir & Lesh
Time of returning
Thought jewels polished and gleaming
Garcia
Six proud walkers on the jingle-bell rainbow 
Weir & Lesh
Time past believing
The child has relinquished the reign
Garcia
Five men writing with fingers of gold 
Weir & Lesh
Now is the test of the boomerang
Garcia
Three girls waiting in a foreign dominion
{Weir & Lesh
{Tossed in the night of redeeming
{Garcia
{Riding in the whalebelly, fade away in moonlight
Garcia
Sink beneath the waters to the coral sands below
Comparing this version to Hunter’s published words, several things
become apparent. 
First, the band made some changes just for the sake of available
singing time. They left out the lines for seven (“Seven-faced marble
eye transitory dream doll”), and four  (”Four men tracking the great
white sperm whale”). And the final lines of the counting rhyme are
gone: 
Fade away in moonlight
Sink beneath the waters
To the coral sands below
Now is the time of returning
It’s too bad, in a way, given the potential link, especially with the
“moonlight” phrase, to link back to “St. Stephen” and the ladyfinger
line. 
But it is compact and layered. The words come at us almost as musical
notes—more abstract than anything, and while we get a sense that there
is some kind of profundity (“thought jewels polished and gleaming”) and
counting going on, there is also the sheer profundity of the weight of
the music itself, and the counting game in which we may or may not be
engaged, musically, trying to figure out what the hell time signature
this thing is in….oh: it’s in the title. 
It’s a fun song to talk about. For instance, there is an entry in the
conversation about the song on the WELL’s ”deadsongs” conference in
which the author proposed that there is numerical unity between the
meter and the lyrics, which, at one point, I mentioned started with
eight, not with eleven. The correspondent, Joe Vanucci, wrote:
I wanted to offer the idea that perhaps there *is* unity in The
Eleven.  Hunter's counting starts at 8, not 11, but it could be thought
of like this:

8  7  6  |  5  4  3

or

8  7  6
3  4  5

where the sums of the columns each equal 11.  Like bookends.  Or, as
Hunter alludes "Now is the time of returning".  Returning to 3, the
closure for 8, if you will.

Clearly, there are many creative minds at work on this material!
Sometimes, given the fact that the band was recording Aoxomoxoa at the
same time as they were performing the material on Live / Dead, I am
tempted to try to create a suite of Hunter’s words, in which the
repeated references to “the child” or “the baby” are of a piece.
“What’s Become of the Baby?” belongs in this suite, as does “St.
Stephen,” with its child wrapped in scarlet. The thematic motif extends
outward, into “Friend of the Devil,” with the child that don’t look
like me. And, just to take it a bit further—the lines addressing “mama”
in “Brokedown Palace” seem to hint that, perhaps, the baby / child is
the narrator. What’s become of the baby? Many many worlds I’ve come
since I first left home. 
But the band went to work on the lyrics as presented by Hunter, and
once again, we are left with a fragment—intriguing, but not necessarily
coherent taken on its own. 
One last aspect I’d like to touch on is the role of numbers in Dead
songs. For me, this comes up in a couple of ways. First is the use of
non-standard time signatures, such as eleven, ten (“Playin’ in the
Band”), or seven (“Estimate Prophet”) beats to the measure. These songs
seemed to present no difficulty for the band, as musicians, nor for us
as dancers and listeners. We just go for it, and so do they. But to
me, that ease of playing in odd meters indicates a much deeper level of
practice than the band is often credited with. Lesh speaks of his
sense of the band as fingers, all on the same hand, and that level of
cohesion is not easily achieved.
Another angle is the use of numbers in lyrics. Hunter makes fairly
frequent use of numbers, as does Barlow, over the course of their
writing for the band. But it never feels mystical, or numerological, to
me. “Seven come eleven…” a gambling phrase, for example. 
A search for the word “one,” however, comes up empty. There is no use
of the word “one” in any Grateful Dead original. 
So, searching for that “one.” Ah—there it comes! Nine, ten, eleven,
ONE.
  



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