Death Don't Have No Mercy

Lyrics: Rev Gary Davis
Music: Rev Gary Davis

Played by the Grateful Dead in the 1960s but then dropped until they revived it a few times in 1989-90. This is a very early verson from 8 Jan 1966:

Well death don't have no mercy in this land
Well death don't have no mercy in this land
In this land
He come to your house, he don't stay long
Look in the bed, find your mother's gone
I said death don't, death don't have no mercy in this land

Death will leave you standing and crying in this land
Death will leave you standing and crying in this land
In this land
You know he come to your house, and he don't stay long
One of these days, you know your father will be gone
Death don't, death don't have no mercy in this land

Well you know death don't take no vacation in this land
Well death don't take no vacation in this land
In this land
Well he come to your house, and he don't stay long
One of these days you know your family's gonna be gone
I said death don't, death don't have no mercy in this land

Well now death will leave you standing and crying in this land
Death will leave you standing and crying in this land
In this land
I said he come to your house, you know he don't stay long
Look in the bed, you know one of these days, your own self will be gone
I said death don't, death don't, death don't have no mercy in this land

Well now death don't have no mercy in this land
Well death don't have no mercy in this land
In this land
Well, he come to your house, you know he don't stay long
Look in the bed, your whole family's gone
I said death don't, death don't have no mercy in this land
This is the Live/Dead version, 2 March 1969, again with Garcia singing all the verses:
You know death don't have no mercy in this land
Death don't have no mercy in this land
In this land
He come to your house, you know he don't take long
You look in the bed this morning children
You find that your, your mother's gone
I said death don't have no mercy in this land

Death will leave you standing and crying in this land
Death will leave you standing and crying in this land
In this land
He come to your house, you know he don't stay long
You look in the bed this morning children
Find that your brothers and sisters have gone (note a)
I said death don't have no mercy in this land

Death will go in any family in this land
Death will go in any family in this land
In this land
Come to your house, you know he don't take long
You look in the bed this morning children
Find that your family's gone
I said death don't have no mercy, no mercy in this land

Death will leave you standing and crying in this land
Death will leave you standing and crying in this land
In this land
He come to your house, you know he don't take long
You look in the bed this morning children
Find that your brothers and sisters have gone
I said death don't, death don't have no mercy in this, in this land
This is the version from 9 October 1989, with verses shared among Jerry, Bob and Brent - thanks to Dan Franzen for pointing this out
[Jerry Garcia]
Death don't have no mercy in this land
Death don't have no mercy in this land
In this land
He come to your house, and it don't take long
You look in the bed this morning children
You find that your mother is gone
Death don't have no mercy in this land

[Bob Weir]
Death don't take no vacation in this land
Yes and death don't take no vacation in this land
In this land
He come to your house, you know he don't stay long
Look around the room, your whole family will be gone, family will be gone
Death don't take no vacation in this land

[Brent Mydland]
Death will leave you standing and crying in this land
I tell you, death will leave you standing and crying in this land
Oh Lord, oh lord
He comes to your house, and it don't take long
You look in the bed and you find your mother gone
Death don't have no mercy, death don't have no mercy
No mercy, no mercy, no death don't have

[All - Jerry on lead, with others singing harmony]
Death don't have no mercy in this land
Death don't have no mercy in this land
In this land
He come to your house, don't take long
You wake up one morning, well everybody be gone
Death don't have no mercy in this land
Notes
(a) in other versions around this time, Garcia sometimes sang "... your father's gone" or "... your papa's gone" in this verse

Grateful Dead Recordings
     Date Album
     studio 1967 The Grateful Dead (note 1)
     24 Aug 1968 Two From The Vault
     28 Feb 1969 Fillmore West 1969 - The Complete Recordings
      2 Mar 1969 Live Dead (note 2)
     24 May 1969 Road Trips Volume 4, Number 1
     29 Sep 1989 So Many Roads (1965-1995)
      9 Oct 1989 Warlocks Box
      2 Apr 1990 Spring 1990

Recordings from dead.net Tapers Section

"The Dead" Concert Recordings

Furthur Digital Downloads and CDs

Ratdoglive CDs and downloads

Phil Lesh and Friends Digital Download Series

Weir-Robinson-Greene Trio Live!

Bob Weir Solo Acoustic Live!
Notes
(1) intrumental version; bonus track on remastered album, first released as part of the box set The Golden Road (1965-1973)
(2) also on Fillmore West 1969 -The Complete Recordings
(3) a recording from Mickey and the Heartbeats playing at the Matrix on 30 Oct 1968 has also been issued on CD, though not officially by the Dead

Roots
The Grateful Dead version is based on Rev Gary Davis's, and he is generally credited with writing it. But there are earlier versions such as this from a 1926 collection "The Second Book Of Negro Spirituals" under the title "Death Come To My House He Didn't Stay Long":
Halleluuu-Hallelu, O my Lord, I'm gwine-ter see my mother again
Hallelu-Hallelu, Death come to my house, he didn't stay long
I look on de bed, an' my mother was gone
I'm gwine-ter see my mother again, Hallelu

Hallelu-Hallelu, Death come to my house, he didn't stay long
I look on de bed, an' my father was gone
I'm gwine-ter see my father again, Hallelu

Hallelu-Hallelu, Death come to my house, he didn't stay long
I look on de bed, an' my sister was gone
I'm gwine-ter see my sister again, Hallelu

Hallelu-Hallelu, Death come to my house, he didn't stay long
I look on de bed, an' my brother was gone
I'm gwine-ter see my brother again, Hallelu

Halleluuu-Hallelu, O my Lord, I'm gwine-ter see my mother again


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 online chords and TAB see www.rukind.com

 


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