The Use Of Nursery Rhymes In Grateful

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The Use Of Nursery Rhymes In Grateful Dead Song Lyrics Essay, Research Paper Who can say where the prose comes from that flow from the pens of the author s of the Grateful Dead s lyrics? Careful listening reveals a strong tendency toward the ancient form of the nursery rhyme. From Robert Hunter s first lyric for the band Alligator (Hunter 6), in which he echoes Old King Cole (Gould 143), to John Perry Barlow s Throwing Stones ( Dodd ), nursery rhymes have provided both text and rhythm, and seem to fit well into the playful sound of the Dead. The rhythm of nursery rhyme presents itself in many of today s popular songs. St. Stephen , Ramble on Rose , and Ripple are three Greatful Dead songs that are perfect examples. In Hunter s book, A Box of Rain, the original lyrics to

“St. Stephen” are listed (195). Simply reading these lyrics puts one in the mind of a nursery rhyme. The are short and simple. The lyrics tell a short story, and they also rhyme. “St. Stephen” Saint Stephen with a rose/In and out of the garden he goes Country garland in the wind and the rain/Wherever he goes the people all complain Stephen prosper in his time/Well he may and he may Decline/Did it matter? Does it now?/ Stephen would answer if he only knew how Wishing well with a golden bell/Bucket hanging clear to Hell/Hell halfway twixt now and then/Stephen fill it up and lower down/And lower down again Ladyfinger dipped in moonlight/Writing What for? across the morning sky/Sunlight splatters dawn with answers/Darkness shrugs and bids the day good-bye Speeding arrow,

sharp and narrow/What a lot of fleeting matters you have spurned/Several seasons with their treasons/Wrap the babe in scarlet covers, call it your own Did he doubt or did he try?/Answers a plenty in the bye and bye/Talk about your plenty, talk about your ills One man gathers what another man spills Saint Stephen will remain/All he s lost he shall regain Seashore washed in the suds and the foam/Been here so long he s got to calling it home “Ramble on Rose” is another example of Hunter’s use of nursery rhyme rhythm. Ramble on Rose Just like Jack the Ripper/Just like Mojo Hand/Just like Billy Sunday/In a shotgun ragtime band/Just like New York City Just like Jericho/Pace the halls and climb the walls/Get out when they say blow Did you say your name was/Ramblin Rose?/Ramble on,

Baby/Settle down easy/Ramble on, Rose Just like Jack and Jill/ Mama told the sailor/One hear up and one cool down/Leave nothing for the tailor/Just like Jack and Jill/My papa told the jailer/ One go up and one come down/Do yourself a favor Chorus I m gonna sing you a hundred verses in ragtime/I know this song it ain t never gonna end/I m gonna march you up and down the local county line/Take you to the leader of the band Just like Crazy Otto/Just like Wolfman Jack/ Sitting plush with a royal flush/Aces back to back Just like Mary Shelley/Just like Frankenstein /Clank your chains and count your change/Try to walk the line Chorus Good-bye, Mama and Papa/Good-bye, Jack and Jill/ The grass ain t greener, the wine ain t sweeter/Either side of the hill (Hunter 174-175) Nursery rhymes

have appeared in the lyrics of popular song long before the Grateful Dead. “Mairzy Doats” is an example from the 1930′; “Good Golly Miss Molly” is another example (Dodd). Doubtless there are tens, if not hundreds more such examples. And the trend continues to the present, having been used since by the Beatles quite often. Probably most noticeably in the “Abbey Road” chant “one two three four five six seven, all good children go to heaven” (Dodd). Hunter’s first lyric ever written for the Grateful Dead, “Alligator”, has a distinct feel for the nursery rhyme ” Old King Cole”. The Grateful Dead’s 1968 album Anthem of the Sun includes the tract “Alligator”- Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun/Sleepin’ by the river just like he usually done/Call for