Terrapin Station Suite

Lyrics: Robert Hunter
Music: Jerry Garcia, Robert Hunter

A suite written by Robert Hunter. Jerry Garcia set the first part to music and performed it with the Grateful Dead. Robert Hunter also performed some of Part 2.

Part 1
Lady With A Fan
Terrapin Station
At A Siding
Part 2
Return To Terrapin
Ivory Wheels, Rosewood Track
And I Know You
Jack O' Roses
Leaving Terrapin
Recognition

See also:
Lady Of Carlisle
L'Alhambra
Terrapin Transit
Terrapin Flyer
Robert Hunter wrote this introduction in his book "Box Of Rain," dating it February 28 1990.
I wrote Terrapin, Part One, at a single sitting in an unfirnished house with a picture window overlooking San Francisco Bay during a flamboyant lightning storm. I typed the first thing that came into my mind at the top of the page, the title Terrapin Station.

Not knowing what it was to be about, I began my writing with an invocation to the muse and kept typing as the story began to unfold.

On the same day, driving into the city, Garcia was struck by a singular inspiration. He turned his car around and hurried home to set down some music that popped into his head, demanding immediate attention.

When we met the next day, I showed him the words and he said "I've got the music." They dovetailed perfectly and Terrapin edged into this dimension.

Part One was for free. A good deal of Part Two, the essential idea, was contained in the first writing, but was too irregular to be easily set. I went through many approaches and versions over the years, having lost the original typescript, attempting to recapture the initial spark and place it in a lyrics contect.

"Jack O'Roses" and "Ivory Wheels/Rosewood Track" are examples of subsequent attempts to complete the cycle. They are included here as part of the suite since they do have pieces of the resolution within them, but they did not really satisfy the initial inspiration. I've omitted or changed a few lines from "Ivory Wheels/Rosewood Track," as I originally recorded it, feeling that they do not serve the rest of the work well.

Several years ago, I discovered the original typescript of Terrapin Station in one of the "files" of miscellaneous papers scooped off my desk and stashed away in trunks, at the completion of an album, to make way for new material. It is incorporated into this version, which I offer as reasonably complete.
In the second edition of "Box of Rain," Robert Hunter made some further revisions to Terrapin Station (noted in the individual songs linked above) and explained what he had done in this supplementary note, dated 18 February 1993:
It is notoriously difficult to return to the particular space of a spontaneous vision--but I wasn't content with my earlier attempt to complete the Terrapin cycle. Cycle is the key word. The piece seemed to demand a legitimate return to its starting point but just how to accomplish this evaded me. The problem was that I was looking outisde the song for clues when the solution, implicit in Lady With A Fan, lay in plain sight the whole time.

With the following revision, I feel as near as I'm likely to get to the initiating flash, this far removed in time. It's a moot point whether my continuing engagement with the suite is symptomatic of my own attempts to Return To Terrapin, but a feeling of deep relief comes with the sense of finally getting it closer to heart's desire--concluding and adding this annotation just as a good hard storm breaks.

 


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