Light the Song with Sense and Color

Reena gives us the prompt “A Colorless World” along with a black and white picture showing people holding up some guitars, a microphone, a keyboard, a cymbal and what maybe looks like a block of wood and she tells us to let the prompt take us anywhere, delving into the realms of our conscious, sub-conscious and unconscious mind.  I came up with a Grateful Dead song called ‘Terrapin Station’ that was written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter and released in 1977 on the album with the same name.  This song was written as the second part of the Terrapin Station Suite, where the first song in the suite is ‘Lady With A Fan’, and because they were often lumped together they are thought of as being one song.

Robert Hunter wrote this song while he was sitting in an unfurnished house with a picture window overlooking San Francisco Bay during a flamboyant lightning storm.  He typed the first thing that came into his mind, being the title Terrapin Station.  Not knowing what this song was going to be about, he began writing an invocation (seeking assistance by calling on an authority) to the muse and as he kept typing the story began to unfold.  On the same day, while driving into the city, Garcia was also struck by a singular inspiration.  He turned his car around and hurried home to set down some music that popped into his head, feeling that it demanded immediate attention.   When they met the next day, they showed each other what they came up with, lyrics by Hunter and music by Garcia which seemed to fit perfectly this song called ‘Terrapin Station’.

Perhaps Terrapin is the name of the muse that Hunter invoked, as he was seeking the ability to tell a story, to hold off the despair he was feeling for not finding inspiration.  The poet promises not to ask for more than this gift, of being allowed to tell a story that will come alive for his readers, and as he is inspired, he is moved to light the song with colors.  He is faced with dark mysteries and he knows that others people in his same position have risen to the occasion, while others have failed and some have climbed their way all the way up to Terrapin Station.

He has the light of Venus to guide him on his way and there is a brand-new crescent moon which is also helping.  He listens to the crickets and cicadas singing a rare and different tune as he tries to get to Terrapin Station.  He hopes to get there soon but he becomes confused along the way, not knowing if this is the end or the beginning.  He is unsure if he is leaving Terrapin or maybe he is returning to Terrapin.  He hears that the train’s put on its brakes and the whistle is screaming.

Inspiration, move me brightly
Light the song with sense and color
Hold away despair
More than this I will not ask
Faced with mysteries dark and vast
Statements just seem vain at last
Some rise, some fall, some climb
To get to Terrapin

Counting stars by candlelight
All are dim but one is bright
The spiral light of Venus
Rising first and shining best
Oh, from the north-west corner
Of a brand new crescent moon
Where crickets and cicadas sing
A rare and different tune
Terrapin Station
In the shadow of the moon
Terrapin Station
And I know we’ll be there soon

I can’t figure out
If it’s the end or beginning
But the train’s put it brakes on
And the whistle is screaming

Written for Reena’s Exploration Challenge 147 prompt – A Colorless World.

14 thoughts on “Light the Song with Sense and Color

  1. When I chose this image from many monochromes, I did think of you and your Musical prompt. It brought in sound as an aspect, though the prompt speaks only of color or the lack of it.

    Thank you for the prompt response, Jim! I would have felt like I made the wrong choice without it.

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