May Lady Lullaby Sing

‘Crazy Fingers’ is a Grateful Dead song written by Garcia and Hunter and it came out on the 1975 Blues for Allah studio album.  Hunter developed the lyrics for this song from some pages of haiku (although not the 5-7-5 kind) that he wrote in a notebook and when Jerry looked at them, he said, “Hey, this might fit together as a song.”  The jazz pianist Claude Hopkins had the nickname of Crazy Fingers.  The German jazz and pop pianist Fritz Schulz-Reichel went by the stage name of Crazy Otto and he wrote a song titled ‘Crazy Fingers’.  Crazy Otto is mentioned in the Grateful Dead songRamble On Rose’.  The Grateful Dead have a Ramble on Rose pin which features the Crazy Otto stoner pointing his finger in the air while looking for a miracle.

My best guess is that Robert Hunter is talking to God when he wrote, “Your rain falls like crazy fingers”, and anyone who took as much LSD as Hunter did, probably held many conversations with the almighty.  Hunter celebrates the beauty of nature in his lyrics, “Peals of fragile thunder, Keeping time”.  Rain drop size varies based on rain intensity from a drizzle to a torrential downpour and rainfall speed increases with rain drop size, so falling rain often keeps a pitter patter time.  In KJV of Psalm 137 which is often called “By the Waters of Babylon” it says, “We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.”  A traditional folk song titled ‘There Is a Tavern in the Town’, appeared in the 1883 edition of William H. Hill’s Student Songs uses the similar phrase, “I’ll hang my harp on a weeping willow tree”, and this is also in ‘Crazy Fingers’.  Rudy Vallée recorded this in 1934 as ‘The Drunkard Song’.

Hunter uses a water theme to reflect falling in love, as he strays down to the water into the deep sea of love, beneath the sweet calm face of the sea to feel the swift undertow and he wonders if this made life sweeter.  As is the case with any love, you just won’t know how it will turn out till you reach the end and hear Lady Lullaby singing specifically for you.  The LSD kicks in again as Hunter sees, “Cloud hands reaching from a rainbow, Tapping at the window, Touch your hair, So swift and bright, strange figures of light, Float in air”.

In 1919, William Butler Yeats wrote the poem The Second Coming that ends with the line, “Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?” and it alludes to the beast from Book of Revelation and in 1991, Joni Mitchell wrote the song ‘Slouching Towards Bethlehem’.  Hunter chose a message of hope instead with his words about an event that changed the history of the world, “Who can stop what must arrive now? Something new is waiting To be born”.  Hunter provides the Taoist idea of letting yourself become a gentle leaf that rides the flow of the tides when he says, “Gone are the days we stopped to decide, Where we should go, we just ride, Gone are the broken eyes, We saw through in dreams, Gone, both dream and lie”.  The song ends on a carousel ride with someone reaching for the gold ring, but they aren’t able to reach it, as it slips away.

Your rain falls like crazy fingers
Peals of fragile thunder
Keeping time
Recall the days that still are to come
Some sing blue

Hang your heart on laughing willow
Stray down to the water
Deep sea of love
Beneath the sweet calm face of the sea
Swift undertow

Life may be sweeter for this, I don’t know
See how it feels in the end
May Lady Lullaby sing plainly for you
Soft, strong, sweet and true

Cloud hands reaching from a rainbow
Tapping at the window
Touch your hair
So swift and bright, strange figures of light
Float in air

Who can stop what must arrive now?
Something new is waiting
To be born
Dark as the night you’re still by my side
Shining side

Gone are the days we stopped to decide
Where we should go, we just ride
Gone are the broken eyes
We saw through in dreams
Gone, both dream and lie

Life may be sweeter for this, I don’t know
Feels like it might be alright
While Lady Lullaby sings plainly for you
Love still rings true

Midnight on a carousel ride
Reaching for the gold ring
Down inside
Never could reach it, just slips away
But I try

Written for Paula’s Thursday Inspiration 76 where this week’s theme is lady from the 1972 Moody Blues song ‘For My Lady’.

18 thoughts on “May Lady Lullaby Sing

  1. Bill said that this album was made on their hiatus and he wished they would have had more time to work with the songs before they recorded them….that many including this one turned out to be huge in their sets. That was his story on a lot of the albums.

    I do like this one a lot…and it’s deeper than I thought.

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      1. Yes it is…I want to listen to the album more…this one and Terrapin Station.

        Jim….do you read books on computer ever? I was given a lot of e-books by someone and this was one of them…if you want it I’ll email it to you.

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      2. Yes I did Jim…I love that combination! I saw them also do A Day In The Life together live in a video.
        If you ask me…Paul should write with Neil…it would bring more of an earthy feel…kinda like Lennon did…to his music. They are an odd couple but they fit well.

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