China Cat Sunflower

Lyrics: Robert Hunter
Music: Jerry Garcia

Played by the Dead from 1968 to 1995, almost invariably seguing into I Know You Rider. More recently played by The Other Ones, Ratdog and Phil & Friends.

Look for a while at the China Cat Sunflower
proud-walking jingle in the midnight sun
Copper-dome bodhi drip a silver kimono
like a crazy-quilt star gown
through a dream night wind

Chorus (note a)
China cat
China cat
China cat
China cat

Krazy Kat peeking through a lace bandana
like a one-eyed Cheshire
like a diamond-eyed jack
A leaf of all colors plays
a golden string fiddle
to a double-e waterfall over my back

[chorus]

Comic book colors on a violin river
crying Leonardo words
from out a silk trombone
I rang a silent bell
beneath a shower of pearls
in the eagle winged palace
of the queen Chinee

[chorus]
Notes
(a) the chorus appears in the studio version, but was dropped very early on in live performances (if indeed it was ever played live).

Robert Hunter played Saint Stephen>Alligator>China Cat Sunflower>The Eleven>China Cat Sunflower on 18 March 2003 to illustrate how the songs had originally been conceived. This included what seems to be an extra verse to "China Cat Sunflower" just before "The Eleven":
Come out of the snow into my single-room cabin
There you're sitting with your windows wide open
And the sound of doors collapsing in the breeze
And the sound of violins
In the Grateful Dead Hour no. 1477, David Gans played an interview with Robert Hunter from 15 November 1977 in which he discusses the writing of China Cat Sunflower and sang the following to illustrate how rhythmically different his original version had been. This has two new verses, and also includes what became part of The Eleven:
Ever been ten thousand miles of [woodland], sweet Susie
A drummer drums the waves up on the shore
With a platter and the tingle and the rush and the roar
Light up the ocean from the [pearls to show]

Ever been to see a comical collection of gears
Grinding out galactical illusions of years
Yellow haired Donna with the yellow silk ribbon
Been waiting, been waiting for years

Look for a while at the China Cat Sunflower
Proud-walking jingle in the midnight sun
Copper-dome bodhi drip a silver kimono
Like a crazy-quilt star gown through a dream night wind

Comic book colors on a violin river
Crying Leonardo words from out a silk trombone
I rang a silent bell beneath a shower of pearls
In the eagle winged palace of the queen Chinee

Eight-sided whispering hallelujah hatrack
Seven-faced marble eyed transitory dream doll
Six proud walkers on the jingle-bell rainbow
Five men writing in fingers of gold
Four men tracking down the great white sperm whale
Three girls waiting in a foreign dominion
Riding in the whalebelly, fade away in moonlight
Sink beneath the waters to the coral sands below


Grateful Dead Recordings

Other Recordings


Futher Information
For an online discussion of the lyrics to this song see the deadsongs.vue conference on The Well.
For more information on recordings see Matt Schofield's Grateful Dead Family Discography
For information on references in the lyrics see David Dodd's Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
For David Dodd's discussion of this song on dead.net see Greatest Stories Ever Told
For online chords and TAB see www.rukind.com
For sheet music, see:
          Grateful Dead Anthology Volume 1 (piano arrangement)
          Grateful Dead Authentic Guitar Classics Volume 2 (guitar TAB)
          Without A Net Songbook (piano arrangement)
          Hundred Year Hall songbook (guitar TAB)
          Garcia/Hunter Songbook (vocal line and chords/TAB)

 


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