Ship Of Fools

Lyrics: Robert Hunter
Music: Jerry Garcia

Went to see the captain, strangest I could find
Laid my proposition down, laid it on the line
I won't slave for beggar's pay, likewise gold and jewels
But I would slave to learn the way to sink your ship of fools

Chorus
Ship of fools on a cruel sea
Ship of fools sail away from me
It was later than I thought when I first believed you
But now I cannot share your laughter, ship of fools

Saw your first ship sink and drown from rocking of the boat
And all that could not sink or swim were just left there to float
I won't leave you drifting down but whoa it makes me wild
With thirty years upon my head to have you call me child (note 1)

[chorus]

The bottles stand as empty now, as they were filled before
Time there was and plenty, but from that cup no more
Though I could not caution all, I still might warn a few
Don't lend your hand to raise no flag atop no ship of fools

[chorus]
Notes
(1) Jerry subsequently changed this line to "With forty years upon my head ..." and, I believe, eventually to "fifty years"

Grateful Dead Recordings
     Date Album
     studio 1974 Mars Hotel
     28 Jun 1974 Dick's Picks Vol 12
     31 Jul 1974 Dave's Picks Volume 2
      4 Aug 1974 Dick's Picks Vol 31
     16 Oct 1974 Steal Your Face
      9 Jun 1976 Road Trips Volume 4, Number 5
     15 May 1977 May 1977 Box Set
      4 May 1979 Live At The Coliseum
     30 Nov 1980 Dave's Picks Volume 8
      5 Apr 1982 Road Trips Volume 4, Number 4
      7 Aug 1982 Dick's Picks Vol 32
      4 Jul 1989 Truckin' Up To Buffalo (DVD & CD soundtrack)
     16 Mar 1990 Spring 1990
      1 Apr 1990 Spring 1990 (The Other One)
     19 Sep 1990 Road Trips Number 2, Volume 1
     16 Dec 1992 Dick's Picks Vol 27

Recordings from dead.net Tapers Section

"The Dead" Concert Recordings

Ratdoglive CDs and downloads

Phil Lesh and Friends Digital Download Series

Furthur Digital Downloads and CDs
 
Other Recordings
     Date Album Recorded By
     16 Apr 1987 Stolen Roses Elvis Costello
     1991 Deadicated Elvis Costello (note 2)
     1996 Costello and Nieve Elvis Costello and Steve Nieve
     1999 Swingin' To The Grateful Dead Steve Marsh et al
     2000 Might As Well The Persuasions (note 3)
     2001 Gratefully Yours Jim Hudak
     2002 Rocking Horse To Mars Kim Cheshire
     2003 Ukelele Summit 5 Various (Herb Ohta Jr.)
     2004 20 Degrees Of Solitude The Grass Is Dead
     2004 The Thief David Thom Band
     2007 Twisted Love Songs David Gans
     2013 Move Me Brightly Bob Weir et al (Blu-ray - bonus track)
Notes
(2) Peter Garrett of Midnight Oil told me that they'd originally wanted to record "Ship Of Fools" for the Deadicated album project, but then found that Elvis Costello had already picked it. So they chose Wharf Rat instead.
(3) re-released in 2011 on "Persuasions of the Dead"


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 online chords and TAB see www.rukind.com
For sheet music, see:
          Grateful Dead Anthology Volume 1 (piano arrangement)
          Grateful Dead Songbook Volume 2 (piano arrangement)
          Garcia/Hunter Songbook (vocal line and chords/TAB)

 


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