Song Lyric Sunday: Weaponry – ‘China Doll’

This week’s theme for Song Lyric Sunday is centred around weaponry, with key words including ‘bomb’, ‘gun’ knife’: you know, all that good stuff.

I couldn’t come up with a suitable song title containing any of these words, so instead I’ve opted for this gentle Grateful Dead ballad. Apparently, Robert Hunter’s working title for this piece was ‘The Suicide Song’, and it’s easy to interpret it as being about suicide, with the pistol shot being self-inflicted. For my own part, I think it’s actually about an attempted suicide, perhaps a cry for help after some unspecified contretemps- ‘yesterday I begged you’. The final verse could also be interpreted as a plea for reconciliation, again suggesting that the pistol shot was not the final act of the drama.

A pistol shot at 5 o’clock
The bells of heaven ring
“Tell me what you done it for”
“No I won’t tell you a thing

“Yesterday I begged you
Before I hit the ground –
All I leave behind me
Is only what I found

“If you can abide it
Let the hurdy-gurdy play –
Stranger ones have come by here
Before they flew away

“I will not condemn you
Nor yet would I deny”
“I would ask the same of you
But failing will not die

“Take up your china doll
It’s only fractured –
And just a little nervous
From the fall”

Written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter

Song Lyric Sunday 16 January 2022

2 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday: Weaponry – ‘China Doll’

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