Fair To Even Odds

Lyrics: Robert Hunter
Music: Pete Sears

A Hunter lyric from "Box Of Rain" set to music by Pete Sears. He changed the order of the verses considerably: this is the original order (including verses Sears' didn't sing). See below for Hunter's fragmentary solo performance and other points about the song.

How long, Jack, till we get to Singapore?
How long, Joe, did we sign on for?
Better keep bailing while the rain pours down
The day crews sleeping and the night crews drowned

Fair to even odds, I wager
Fair to even odds, I lay
If we make it till the sunrise
We can make it through the day

Caught at the border running forty-fives (note 1)
A shot in the back could mean goodbye
You know I have been shot before
And I didn't lay down and die, no

Fair to even odds, I wager
Fair to even odds, I give
Fair to even I recover
Fair to even odds I live

Lie around and clench my teeth (note 1)
Until my jaws are sore
Maybe give up cigarettes
Till my lungs don't hurt no more

Shot in the back and drawing flies
Flat on my belly with bloodshot eyes
This is the life I love the best
Devil be welcome to the rest

Fair to even odds, I wager (note 1)
Fair to even I adore
Away, away, go from my window
Don't you bother me no more

Just how far is this day risen?
Move my head so I can see
Hear the hot sweet winds of heaven
Thick and red as blood to me

Fair to even odds, I wager
Fair to even odds, I lay
If I make it till the sunrise
I can make it through the day

I can hear the hangman's hornpipe
Blowing high and low and strong
Fare to even odds, dear Annie (note 2)
Play no sweeter when I'm gone
Notes
(1) Pete Sears didn't sing these verses.
(2) Hunter spells it "Fare to even odds ..." here: I'm not sure if it's a mistake or not.

Recordings
     Date Album Recorded By
     2000 The Long Haul Pete Sears
     2011 Dave's Way EP Volume 6 Moonalice

Hunter sang a fragment in a performance on 19 June 1980, as an intro to Row Jimmy - listed in setlists as "Keep On Bailing":
Better keep bailing while the rain pours down
The day crews sleeping and the night crews drowned
How long, Jack, till we get to where we're going to?
How long, Jimmy, did we sign on for?
Better keep bailing while the rain pours down
The day crews sleeping and the night crews drowned
In a interview in 1977, reproduced in "Conversations With The Dead" Hunter was asked about "Row Jimmy" and said:
"The title came from:

How long, Jack, till we get to Singapore?
How long, Joe, did we sign on for?
Better keep bailing while the rain pours down
The day crews sleeping and the night crews drowned
Row, Jimmy, row
Gonna get there, I don't know
though the link isn't entirely clear to me.


Futher Information
For more information on recordings see Matt Schofield's Grateful Dead Family Discography

 


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