Song Lyric Sunday: Alternatives – ‘The Other One’

Suggested by the illustrious Fandango, ‘Choices’ is the over-arching theme for Song Lyric Sunday this week: this, that or the other. Well, if a bit of everything isn’t an option, I guess I’ll settle for a bit of the other.

‘The Other One’ was a staple of Grateful Dead shows and one of the most frequently played pieces in the canon. Most often it appeared – heralded by a ‘Phil bomb’ (those thunderous notes from the bass guitar) – as the band emerged from the improvised section usually referred to as ‘Drums>Space’.

However, although ‘The Other One’ was itself a vehicle for yet further improvisation, it does have lyrics and they do tell a story about the early days of the band. They are a nod to the seminal influence of ‘Cowboy Neal’ Cassady, well described by no less an authority than Wikipedia as “a major figure of the Beat Generation of the 1950s and the psychedelic and counterculture movements of the 1960s”. The bus he drove was that of the Merry Pranksters.

Interestingly – although no doubt purely coincidentally – there is a suburb of the city of Sydney called Lilyfield. And it has a bus service.

Spanish lady come to me, she lays on me this rose
It rainbow spirals round and round, it trembles and explodes
It left a smoking crater of my mind I like to blow away
But the heat came round and busted me for smiling on a cloudy day

Coming, coming, coming around
Coming around, coming around, in a circle
Coming, coming, coming around
Coming around, coming around, in a circle

Escaping through the lily fields, I came across an empty space
It trembled and exploded, left a bus stop in its place
The bus came by and I got on, that’s when it all began
There was Cowboy Neal at the wheel of the bus to never ever land

Coming, coming, coming around
Coming around, coming around, in a circle
Coming, coming, coming around
Coming around, coming around, in a circle

Written by Bill Kreutzmann and Bob Weir

Dunno what Brent’s on, but I don’t think I want any

Song Lyric Sunday 26 September 2021

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