Picasso Moon

Lyrics: John Barlow
Music: Bob Weir

The origins of the song were explained in interviews on a promo disc for the "Built To Last" album:

[Weir] "Picasso Moon is a piece of music that I wrote for another lyric that Barlow had written called "It Doesn't Matter". And I had it pretty much finished when I learned that Barlow had given this to Brent to work on, because he assumed that I was ignoring it, or something - I'm not entitrely sure what."

[Barlow] "I mean it wasn't anybody's fault. It was just kind of a curious turn of events. I didn't think he was going to do anything with those lyrics, and I gave them to you, 'cause he had them for a year. Imagine my surprise when I found out he had actually been working on it."

[Brent] "So we ended up with two tunes with the same lyrics."

[Barlow] "Right. Not identical twins. Fraternal twins, yes. By different fathers."

[Weir] "And so I figured I'll just get started on something else here. I was I guess in a fairly open frame of moind. And we were sitting around in the front room here during our rehearsal, and everything got sort of quiet for a moment, and Phil sort of popped and said 'Picasso Moon. I don't know why I said that. You can see that, can't you?' And we weren't talking about anything at all, or anything specific, he just popped. And it took a couple of days to settle in on me, but I was riding my bicycle over one day, and in my head I was listening over the chorus, wondering what that was all about, and 'Picasso Moon' just sort of floated in and just hung there. And I could see that big old Picasso moon hanging up there in the sky, and things got real weird for a minute and I almost fell off my bike. And then I knew what the song was about. And then started working with Barlow on it. And it took me a while to get across to him what it was that I was seeing. Finally we got it together, and I think the song hangs together pretty well."
Lyrics:
South of Market in the land of ruin
You'll find all manner of action
Got your tinsel tigers in the metal room
Stalking satisfaction
They got them packaged up for love and money
Tattooed tots, chrome spike bunnies
Pop on my mirrored shades, the better to see
And roll on in, gonna roll in it, honey

I get a feeling like when big things collide
Like the crack before the thunder, like I really ought to hide
Here comes metal angel, she looks ready to ride
What's that she's tryin' to show me?
What's that she's tryin' to show me?

Picasso moon, shattered light
Diamond bullets ripping up the night (note 1)
Picasso moon, liberate me
Ah, life's infinite diversity
Great, amazing, majesty
And it's bigger than a drive-in movie, oo-wee
And it's bigger than a drive-in movie, oo-wee

Hanging ten out on space and time
Redefining distance
The next skull on your necklace is mine
Cheap for such assistance
I had a job trading bits for pieces
We'd make wrinkles, advertise them as creases
Please find my resignation enclosed
Roll with it, come on let's roll with it

Dark angel, what's bothering you
So strange, you do me all that you do
Dark angel, you're making me blue
I guess it doesn't matter
I guess it doesn't matter

Picasso moon, blinding ball
I feel the quickening, I hear the call
Picasso moon, fill the sky
Amaze and blaze and mystify
With the lunar wind, I want to fly
And it's bigger than a drive-in movie, oh my
And it's bigger than a drive-in movie, oh my

Strikes the morning, the atomic dawn
Scramble back to cover
Quick, gotta get your sunglasses on
My little leather-winged lover
I see your face printed on my money
Your brazen ways really move me, honey
Heart of darkness, yeah, yeah
Why am I laughing, this ain't funny

Dark angel, now just don't start
You'll break my spirit, you'll wreck my heart
You must have a licence for practicing that art
I don't presume to imagine
No, I don't presume to imagine

Picasso moon, fractal flame
Blazing lace filling every frame
Picasso moon, wheels within wheels
The bells are ringing, it's way unreal
Trying to tell y'all about just how it feels
And it's bigger than a drive-in movie, for real
And it's bigger than a drive-in movie, for real

Picasso moon, shattered light
Diamond bullets ripping up the night
Picasso moon, liberate me
Picasso moon, blinding ball
I feel the quickening, I hear the call
Picasso moon, fill the sky
Picasso moon, fractal flame
Blazing lace filling every frame
Picasso moon, wheels within wheels (note 2)
Picasso moon, shining bright
The universe is working fine tonight
Picasso moon, illuminate me
Notes
(1) on "Nightfall Of Diamonds", Bob Weir sings something slghtly different here: it sounds like "Diamond bullets tearing up the night." Thanks to David Kudrav for pointing this out.
(2) on "Nightfall Of Diamonds", Bob Weir misses out this line and the next two, skipping straight to "Picasso moon, illuminate me"

Grateful Dead Recordings
     Date Album
     studio 1989 Built To Last
     16 Oct 1989 Nightfall Of Diamonds
     19 Mar 1990 Spring 1990
     22 Mar 1990 Spring 1990
     26 Mar 1990 Spring 1990
     30 Mar 1990 Spring 1990
      3 Apr 1990 Spring 1990 (The Other One)
     18 Sep 1990 Road Trips Number 2, Volume 1 (bonus disc)
     27 May 1993 Road Trips Vol 2, No 4

Recordings from dead.net Tapers Section

Ratdoglive CDs and downloads


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 sheet music, see:
          Built To Last Songbook (piano arrangment)

 


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