Don’t Tell Them That You Know Me

When I saw the Sunday Song Lyric prompt yesterday, I knew that I was going to write about the Grateful Dead song ‘Sugaree’, which I always liked.  I realized that other than liking the music and the lyrics, that I really did not know what this song was actually about.  Well that made it even more fun for me, as I love doing research as it gives me a chance to learn something new.  I researched the meaning of this song and the only thing that is clear to me is that this is not about putting candy in a mould shaker to create sugary things that would torment a diabetic.  Although other plausible explanations are possible the urgency and drama contained in this song implies that a very serious situation is taking place and I have narrowed this down to being a pair of outlaws who are partners in crime and they are either involved as escaped slaves or a captured spies.

It is pretty clear that Sugaree ran into some serious problem with the law, and there is a plea from someone close to her, most likely a male coconspirator who would appreciate not being dragged down with her. Sugaree was apprehended and she is being taken away in a cart as it seems that she has already been judged guilty of her crime and soon she will be executed while her partner is standing in the crowd watching the proceedings.  The guy is terrified, so he asks her or rather begs her not to spill the beans and implicate him after she is taken away in the paddy wagon to be questioned.  Besides being partners, they are also lovers and he would use like her ‘charms’ (shake it, shake it, shake your butt you sweet thing) and not give up any information on his whereabouts.

In regard too the verse, “You thought you was the cool fool, And never could do no wrong, Had everything sewn up tight, How come you lay awake all night long?”, this reveals that the tables have turned for Sugaree and she has good reason to worry.  Another verse, “You know, in spite of all you gained, You still had to stand out in the pouring rain, One last voice is calling you, And I guess it’s time you go” shows that she has no recourse other than to accept her fate.

One part of this song always reminded me of ‘The Mocking Bird Song’, when Garcia sings, “And if that jubilee don’t come”.  Jubilee is mentioned in the Bible in Leviticus, chapter 25, and a Jubilee was held every 49 years, as a ritualized way of giving everyone a clean slate.  The basic tenet of jubilee is that all debts should be forgiven.  This included indenture and mortgage of person and property.  Thus, the concept was readily embraced by the slave population in America.  The partner of Sugaree may be saying that both of them would need a jubilee in order to ever see each other again, because without this, they will remain on the run for their crimes.

Grateful Dead – Sugaree – October 1974, Winterland, SF.

When they come to take you down
When they bring that wagon around
When they come to call on you
And drag your poor body down
Just one thing I ask of you
There’s just one thing for me
Please forget you knew my name
My darlin’ Sugaree
Shake it, shake it Sugaree
Just don’t tell them that you know me
Shake it, shake it Sugaree
Just don’t tell them that you know me
You thought you was the cool fool
And never could do no wrong
Had everything sewn up tight
How come you lay awake all night long?
Just one thing I ask of you
There’s just one thing for me
Please forget you knew my name
My darlin’ Sugaree
Shake it, shake it Sugaree
Just don’t tell them that you know me
Shake it, shake it Sugaree
Just don’t tell them that you know me
You know, in spite of all you gained
You still had to stand out in the pouring rain
One last voice is calling you
And I guess it’s time you go
Just one thing I ask of you
There’s just one thing for me
Please forget you knew my name
My darlin’ Sugaree
Shake it, shake it Sugaree
Just don’t tell them that you know me
Shake it, shake it Sugaree
Just don’t tell them that you know me
Shake it up now Sugaree
I’ll meet you at the jubilee
And if that jubilee don’t come
Baby, I’ll meet you on the run
Just one thing I ask of you
Just one thing for me
Please forget you knew my name
My darlin’ Sugaree
Shake it, shake it Sugaree
Just don’t tell them that you know me
Shake it, shake it Sugaree
Just don’t tell them that you know me
Shake it, shake it Sugaree
Just don’t tell them that you know me
Shake it, shake it Sugaree
Just don’t tell them that you know me

Written for 12/31/17 Helen Vahdati’s This Thing Called Life One Word at a Time Song Lyric Sunday Theme where the theme is “sugar/candy”.

14 thoughts on “Don’t Tell Them That You Know Me

    1. Thanks for your lovely comment and I appreciate being able to participate in your challenge. I know that many people get annoyed when they hear the words ‘Grateful Dead’, and it may not be their music that is actually what is annoying, as it seems to be more like they get super-annoyed by the people who loved the music that was played by the Grateful Dead. No matter how old I get, I will always listen to their music and it is my privilege to write about them on the Sunday Song Lyric.

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      1. I never understood why people were so judgmental about other people’s music interests. They honestly aren’t my favorite band, but I appreciate the immersion as well as your love of the band.

        It is my pleasure to share music of all kinds and I love that you guys are so passionate about it. 😉

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  1. Everybody has different tastes and opinions on what constitutes good music, for instance I don’t really like Justin Bieber, but he has some talent and a nice voice, so I could tolerate him for three minutes or maybe a bit longer. I understand that music evolves over the years and that is a good thing, as pushing the boundaries is the only way to move forward, however chronologically I am still struck in the 70’s, which I do not think is such a bad thing. People say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and appreciation of good music is certainly in the ear of the beholder.

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