Wait All Summer

‘Let Me Sing Your Blues Away’ is a Grateful Dead song that came out on their 1973 studio album Wake Of The Flood and it was also released as a Grateful Dead 7” single.  The lyrics were written by Robert Hunter and the music was composed by Keith Godchaux.  This was Keith’s only songwriting credit and lead vocal that he sang while he was in the band.  Wake Of The Flood was the first Dead studio album where Keith and Donna appeared on.  ‘Let Me Sing Your Blues Away’ was only played live six times by the Grateful Dead, all in September 1973, and on each of those performances, after the first one, the horn player Martin Fierro played on the song.

For a brief period during the fall of 1973, the Grateful Dead included a section of horn players for including saxophonist/flutist Martin Fierro and trumpeter Joe Ellis.  Fierro was also a part of the famed Legion of Mary band of 1974 to 1975, which featured Jerry Garcia, Merl Saunders, and others.  Keith gave the Dead a deeper dimension and the husband-and-wife team of Keith and Donna Godchaux joined the Grateful Dead as a package deal.  The couple’s timing was fortuitous, as founding member Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, who played organ as well as harmonica while singing the Dead’s blues numbers, was in poor health (he died in 1973) and he was unable to keep up with the band’s rigorous touring schedule.  Keith Godchaux was the keyboardist for the Grateful Dead from 1971-1979, he was born on July 19th, 1948 and died on July 23rd, 1980.

Donna Jean Thatcher was a studio singer working as a session singer in the Muscle Shoals area before she married Keith Godchaux in 1970.  Her first recording session was with Ray Stevens probably in early 1966.  She contributed background vocals to Percy Sledge’s 1966 ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’ and Elvis Presley’s 1969 single ‘Suspicious Minds’.  Her vocals were featured on other classic recordings, singing on the eponymous first Boz Scaggs album featuring Duane Allman which was released in 1969, and her picture appears in the front row on the cover of the 1969 Cher album 3614 Jackson Highway.  Donna sang on R.B. Greaves’ ‘Take A Letter, Maria’, which she also sang on occasion with the New Riders and it is thought that she sang on the Neil Diamond song ‘Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show’.  She also sang with Joe Tex, Benny King, Dionne Warwick, Etta James, the Boxtops and many others.

On September 17, 1971, Pigpen went into the hospital, seriously ill and near death.  The Dead were faced with a dilemma of who would be their next keyboard player.  Tom Constantine had played organ and piano with the Grateful Dead from 1968 to 1970 appearing on Anthem of the Sun, Aoxomoxoa, Live/Dead and live performances at The Fillmore East and Woodstock, but he left to start a solo career.  Ned Lagin played on the American Beauty album along with Howard Wales had also played on several songs on American Beauty.  Howard also collaborated with Jerry Garcia on the 1971 album Hooteroll.  Howard disappeared from the music world and Ned wasn’t considered as the replacement keyboardist, or he turned them down.  Merl Saunders was playing with Garcia all the time, but he didn’t really want to join the band.  Keith was a big fan of the Dead before he joined the group.

In 1973, the Grateful Dead were going through a lot of changes as their Warner Bros. contract was expiring and the band decided to start their own independent record company Grateful Dead Records, with their first album release being, Wake of the Flood, which incorporated horns and a violin.   This album sold more than 400,000 copies and the band earned approximately four times the money per album because they had their own independent label.  Grateful Dead Records used the image of a mediaeval court jester holding a mandolin whose face was a skull as their artwork symbol which was originally designed by Stanley Mouse and Alton Kelley.  This may have been inspired by the character of Yorrick in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet.  Hamlet is speaking to the gravedigger when he finds the skull of Yorick, the royal jester.

This song contains a lot of car lyrics and it is also about a race.  It contains the starting jingle,One for the Money”, which is an English-language children’s rhyme which came out in the 1820s to count before starting a race or other activity.  This rhyme reads as, “One for the money, Two for the show, Three to make ready, And four to go”, which Hunter changed up a bit.  This rhyme also exists in the 1955 songs ‘Roll Hot Rod Roll’ by Oscar McLollie and ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ by Carl Perkins.

Well hop in the hack, turn on the key
Pop in the clutch let the wheel roll free
Not a cloud in the sky, such a sunny day
Push in the button let the top ten play
Come on honey, let me sing ‘em away
Come on honey, let me sing ‘em away
Oh, honey, let me sing your blues away

Give me a little of that old time love
‘Cause I ain’t never had near enough
Honey, walk that walk
With style and grace
This ain’t no knock-down, drag-out race

It doesn’t matter much, pick any gear
Grind you a pound and drop the rear
Baby, baby, what can I say
I’m here to drive those blues away

I sent a letter to a man I know
Said one for the money and two for the show
I wait all summer for his reply
Said three to get ready and four to fly

Only two things in this world I love
That’s rock and roll and my turtle dove

When I was a young man, I needed good luck
But I’m a little bit older now and I know my stuff

Come on honey let me sing ‘em away
Come on honey let me sing ‘em away
Oh honey let me sing your blues away

Written for Paula’s Thursday Inspiration 64 where this week’s theme is summer.

7 thoughts on “Wait All Summer

    1. I always liked this song and I did a lot of work to write this post, but I am calling it my Rodney Dangerfield post, as it didn’t get the respect that it deserved. Thanks for commenting Max.

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      1. I’ll see what is ahead Jim…I will let you know when I can. I will soon if I don’t this weekend. My schedule should start calming down. Right now I’m catching up when I can with everyone’s blog.

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