Only Game in Town

‘Passenger’ was performed just under 100 times during a four-and-a-half-year spell by the Grateful Dead and this song came out on their 9th studio album, Terrapin Station.  Bassist Phil Lesh composed the music for this song and the lyrics were written by a former member of the U.S. Navy and ordained Buddhist monk named Peter Zimels, listed as Peter Monk.  ‘Passenger’ is short and sweet and it’s definitely a departure from much of the quasi-symphonic, almost progressive rock sound that is on the rest of the album. ‘Passenger’ was sung by Bob Weir and Donna Jean Godchaux on the Terrapin Station album.  Following the band’s two-year hiatus that began in 1974, Terrapin Station was released, marking their comeback into the sphere of music.  This was the first Grateful Dead album on Arista Records, and they found themselves collaborating with producer Keith Olsen, who had just produced Fleetwood Mac’s self-titled debut.

Zimels was a friend of Mountain Girl (Carolyn Adams) and the Grateful Dead and he conducted the 1981 wedding between Jerry Garcia and Mountain Girl.  ‘Passenger’ is the lone Grateful Dead original credited to Zimels, though he co-wrote ‘Blind John’ with C.J. Stetson which appeared on drummer Mickey Hart’s 1972 solo album Rolling Thunder.  ‘Blind John’ featured Grace Slick, Paul Kantner and it was also played live by Jefferson Airplane.  Stetson was a pseudonym used by 13th Floor Elevators manager Curly Jim Stalarow, who is believed to have taught Weir the often-covered John Phillips favorite ‘Me And My Uncle’.  Lesh said that he wrote the song as a joke, and it’s a take on a Fleetwood Mac tune called ‘Station Man’, that he just sort of sped it up and put some different chord changes in there.  Fleetwood Mac released ‘Station Man’ as part of their 1970 Kiln House LP and there are clear resemblances between the pair of songs.

Can you see me?
Shine on, glowing
Brief and brightly

Could you imagine
One summer day
That same night
Be on your way

Do you remember?
Hearts were too cold
Seasons had frozen us
Into our souls

People were saying
The whole world is burning
Ashes were scattered
Too hard to turn

Upside out
Or inside down
False alarm, the only game in town
No man’s land, the only game in town
Terrible, the only game in town

Don’t you hear me?
Seen unclearly

What is a man
Deep down inside
But a raging beast
With nothing to hide

Written for Paula’s Thursday Inspiration 47 where this week’s theme is game.

7 thoughts on “Only Game in Town

  1. Jim, I missed when you said you would be gone while your floors were installed. I’m glad you are alright and safe.
    Something about Donna Jean…it seemed like she was never loud enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always liked Donna Jean although some other deadheads disapproved of her and I am sure they were happy when her volume was turned down. She has her moments and the best song that I herd her sing was the Merle Haggard song Sing Me Back Home. I love the way she sings “Make my old memories come alive”.

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.