Watch my taillights fading
Keith Richards, JaggerRichards, The Rolling Stones, "Before They Make Me Run," Some Girls, 1978
Annie's name is taken from the song "It Must Have Been the Roses," by Robert Hunter. Annie laid her head down in the roses, the roses and the ribbons in her long, brown hair. In the version on Garcia's Reflections album, it blasted incessantly through Lompico in the fall of 1976 and the long, beautiful, drought winter that followed. All I know is I could not leave her there.
Since then, I have loved the song on the Dead's Steal Your Face and Hunter's own Tales of the Great Rum Runners (both of which came out earlier), then on Reckoning and One From the Vault (Garcia must have liked it as much as I do), and in my own skull many, many times, hiking or running or simply spacing out in fantasies of performance. And still I don't know the lyric. Y'see, it's not what the song says, exactly, it's the way the words make you sing.
Jerry sang that song the best.
The words are signposts, indicators, nudges in the direction of a feeling. "If my thought-dreams could be seen, they'd probably put my head in a guillotine," sang Uncle Bob in '65, but he made it through, just barely, because they couldn't hear the words on the signposts. They knew somethin' was happenin' but they dinnowaddit was. The words never matter, it's the emotion that counts, and that's in the tune and the rhythm and especially the singing, but words are the maps we can print in a book.
Anyone who can immediately identify all the quotes that follow was probably me then. I made the list at the end of a trip to Chomolongma aka Sagamartha aka Everest in 1978. Some of them are certainly incorrect, in that the author didn't write them that way. Some of them are from lousy, even offensive, songs, but they wouldn't get out of my skull. They all need music, though at least one is lifted from a printed page (but then, if Blonde on Blonde is a novel, and I swear it is, Gravity's Rainbow is rock'n'roll). Those with an asterisk or more were real obsessions. Their order is the one in which I wrote them down at the time. Taken together, in the grand tradition of Dylan's Self-Portrait, they paint some kind of a picture.
Ain't that a part of what rock music does for us?
Ain't that a function of art, professor, to help us make sense of the world and our place in it, and our sense of everyone else's?
These lines were not chosen because they have pretensions to providing a credo, though some of them do, they were chosen because they resonated. The choice was never conscious; they simply represent the songs sometimes it was just a phrase, sometimes a melody, sometimes a whole recording, a tiny symphony in my head that would not leave my memory when I was trekking and I was away from electricity for over a month, in the days before Walkmen for walking men (like James Taylor, perhaps?). As such, they provide a possible gateway to understanding a point of view. Not an argument for it (there's nothing to defend or attack); not an explanation of it, or analysis, or even description. A way in. If you can hear the beat go down, if you can connect with the rhythm and the melody, in short if you like rock music, then here's another way of getting a fix on a person. Not a character in this book, exactly, but someone who could have been. A friend of Skip the Beard's, perhaps, or Blackie's. Maybe a lover once of Annie or of a friend of hers. Someone like that. He shows up briefly in Chapter 18, with the uncredited line of dialogue about pee gee squared, but otherwise he's not here. Much.
Anyway, they're mostly great songs and you should hear them (again).
It's an ordinary story about the way things go, round and around nobody knows but the highway goes on forever.
The going up is worth the coming down.
I am the Antichrist, I am an anarchist, don't know what I want but I know where to get it, I want to destroy passers by 'cause I want to be anarchy.
*Dance with a lady with a hole in her stocking, don't it feel good.
When the day goes down I won't be waiting around for you.
***Ooh baby, it's hard to change, I can't tell you how to feel, some get strong, some get strange, sooner or later it all gets real walk on.
Ladies have their problems, the battle of the sexes, it's just the same in Egypt, it's just the same in Texas even East of East of Eden.
*Baby try it two times, once for sure ... why hold out for more? ... wouldn't you know you got shoes to wear?
**Love is a rose, you'd better not pick it, it only grows when it's on the vine, handful of thorns and you know you've missed it, lose your love when you say the word 'mine'.
Forsaken, almost human, he sank beneath your wisdom like a stone.
Yo-do-e-oh-e-oh-e-oh-e-oh-YEEEAH! [&c ... Cherry Oh Baby]
One more cup of coffee 'fore I go to the valley below.
*As the island slowly sank, the loser finally broke the bank in the gambling room ...
The clubs are all closed and the ladies are leaving, there's nobody nobody knows on the street ...
Trouble with you is the trouble with me, you got two good eyes but still you can't see.
Freezing cold December then bloody January again!
*Ja! Ja! Ja! Ja! In Prussia we never eat pussy.
And you, you stand around and ask for ashtrays, can't you reach?
*Livin' on the road, my friend, was gonna keep you free and clean, now you wear your skin like iron, your breath's as hard as kerosene.
Riders on the storm [the Kathmandu classic]
I've been thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinking. [Barrett failing to sing]
I don't do that much talking these days.
Well, shake it up baby now, twist and shout.
Combed my hair in a thousand ways but it came out looking just the same.
Line broke, monkey got choked, they all went to heaven in a little row boat, clap hands.
*The boy's too young to be singing the blue-ue-ues (ah-a-aah-ahah)
I do believe in your hexagram but can you tell me how they all knew the plan?
Well I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused.
Well since my baby left me, I found a new place to dwell.
Life I love you, all is groovy (bah-dah-dadah-dadah-da)
She took her stand at fifteen hands, I'd ride her easy.
*Can I just have one more moondance with you, my love? [coupled with, much to my distaste] I'm being followed by a moonshadow.
He come dancing across the water with his galleons and guns.
Sex and drugs and rock and roll are very good indeed.
She drove a pickup truck painted green and blue.
I'm ready to go anywhere, I'm ready for to fade...