The lyrics to several dozen of original songs by The Grateful Dead contain references to earlier literary, musical, biblical and other cultural creations. Having already sleuthed many for over a decade, David Dodd created an online repository in 1995 to document his (and others’) annotations for these lyrical passages.
The website is simply called Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics and it contains a significant amount of information which (he hopes) provides useful context for the listener.
Did you ever wonder why the band sometimes sings ‘Tear (Burn) down the Fillmore, Gas the Avalon’ in Alligator, or if ‘Crazy Otto’ in Ramble on Rose really existed? How about what (or who) ‘Crazy Fingers‘ refers to or why it was important to ‘roll away the dew‘? The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics website and book have these and many more answers for you.
In addition to creating and maintaining (until 2007) the website, David Dodd is co-editor of The Grateful Dead Reader and The Grateful Dead and the Deadheads: An Annotated Bibliography and editor or the printed book version of the annotated lyrics website.
Preceding my interview of David on December 5, 2011, I played Sugaree and Jack Straw from the Dead’s show on November 21, 1973 in Denver, CO, snippets of which are embedded in the interview. Two additional songs from this show are inside the full edited interview.
The embedded song snippets are from (in the order played):