I had heard about the Zodiac reference to this song, but never knew the rest of the story. Was it really written from the dead man's perspective???
This got me thinking about what GD songs we can really say we know what they're about. Robert Hunter has always been very private and not willing to reveal what the songs are about, preferring instead to let the listener decide, but there are a few that we can say for sure:
Birdsong - written for Janis Joplin
Might As Well - written about the Festival Express trans-Canadian train ride and tour
Cassidy - Neal dying and Cassidy Law being born
Mission in the Rain - basically a guy walking around SF's Mission District and his thoughts. 10 yrs ago I walked these streets...
Wharf Rat - a guy talking to a street character, the wharf rat. I got no time but I got some time to hear your story...
A few GD songs to me are about the band themselves: Truckin, Playing in the Band, The Music Never Stopped, and to some extent, Fire on the Mountain
Quite a few Brent tunes are obviously about a troubled relationship - Far From Me, Blow Away, etc. OK, most of Brent's tunes...
I have been told of a possible meaning of Franklin's Tower, having to do with the 1976 bicentennial, and the birth of the USA, your eyes looked from your mother's (England's) face. The bell in the song is supposedly the Liberty Bell and when it rang it rang freedom for the newly born nation. Rolling away the dew was described as the method used for manufacturing a bell. Who knows? Who can say for sure but Hunter himself?
A bunch of songs are actually based on older traditional songs, but lyrically and musicaly re-written, with similar stories or mythology: Casey Jones, Dupree's Diamond Blues, Stagger Lee, Candyman.
The Other One has a little reality to the lyric, the story of Weir getting busted for hitting a cop with a water balloon which the cop figured out who did it just from Weir's smile..... the heat come round and busted me for smiling on a cloudy day
There must be other songs with obvious or not so obvious meanings. Do you have any to share? Any theories on the meaning of GD tunes???