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Scarlet Begonias

Scarlet Begonias has not been seen in 1985 Phish shows.
It was last played: 1985-05-03.
It was played at 0.15% of live shows.
It has been performed live 3 time(s).

Music: Jerry Garcia

Lyrics: Robert Hunter

Original Artist: Grateful Dead

Original Album: From the Mars Hotel (1974)

Vocals: Trey

Debut: 1983-12-02

The Grateful Dead performed their classic “Scarlet Begonias” 316 times, debuting it with the “Wall of Sound” on 3/24/74 at San Francisco's Cow Palace, two days before entering the studio for From the Mars Hotel. The original lyrics – littered with British place names and allusions to nursery rhymes, folks songs, and fables – accompany music at once delicate and rhythmic. For outstanding Dead versions, check out 5/25/74 Santa Barbara; 9/25/76 Capital Centre; 10/2/77 Portland, OR; 12/31/78 Winterland; 2/3/79 Indianapolis; 6/18/83 SPAC; or 12/10/93 with Branford Marsalis. For a deeper dive on the song, be sure to visit David Dodd’s Annotated “Scarlet Begonias.”

Watch Scarlet Begonias on YouTube Grateful Dead, “Scarlet Begonias” -> “Fire on the Mountain” – 12/31/78, San Francisco, CA

Phish performed the tune on three known occasions three: at their first gig on 12/2/83; opening their first bar gig on 12/1/84 at Nectar’s (followed by Hendrix’s “Fire” and “Fire on the Mountain”); and opening the third set of the first show with Page on 5/3/85, paired with “Eyes of the World.” Phish's performances of "Scarlet" reflect a band well before it found its own footing and as such are notable as historical footnotes rather than for their musical prowess.

Watch Scarlet Begonias on YouTube Phil Lesh & Phriends, “Scarlet Begonias” – 4/16/99, San Francisco, CA

However, all the members of Phish have performed the song with members of the Dead in more modern settings, with significantly more pleasing results. The most prominent was the first: Page and Trey with Phil Lesh & Phriends on 4/16/99 at the Warfield, which also featured Donna Jean Godchaux on vocals. Other instances with Trey include: the Comes a Time tribute on 9/24/05 at Berkeley’s Greek Theater, with Phil & Friends on 7/7/06 and 7/12/06, and with Furthur on 9/7/13 at the Lockn’ Festival. Four versions of “Scarlet” with Mike can be found during his performances with Mickey Hart's Rhythm Devils in 2006, including on 12/1/06 at the Warfield with Bob Weir. 10/26/14 – a night off before Phish’s three-night stand at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – featured Mike performing “Scarlet” with Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band in San Rafael in the afternoon, while Jon Fishman & Friends took their turn on the tune that evening up the road in Petaluma.


© Ice Nine Publishing Company, Inc.

As I was walking round Grosvenor Square
Not a chill to the winter but a nip to the air
From the other direction she was calling my eye (note 1)
It could be an illusion, but I might as well try
Might as well try

She had rings on her fingers and bells on her shoes
And I knew without asking she was into the blues
She wore scarlet begonias, tucked into her curls
I knew right away she was not like other girls
Other girls

In the thick of the evening when the dealing got rough (note 2)
She was too pat to open and too cool to bluff
As I picked up my matches and was closing the door
I had one of those flashes I had been there before
Been there before

Well I ain't often right but I've never been wrong
It seldom turns out the way it does in the song
Once in a while you get shown the light
In the strangest of places if you look at it right

Well there ain't nothing wrong with the way she moves
Scarlet begonias or a touch of the blues
And there's nothing wrong with the look that's in her eyes (note 3) (note 4)
I had to learn the hard way to let her pass by
Let her pass by

The wind in the willows playing Tea for Two (note 5)
The sky was yellow and the sun was blue
Strangers stopping strangers just to shake their hand
Everybody is playing in the heart of gold band
Heart of gold band

(1) Jerry occasionally sang "From the other direction, I was calling her eye"

(2) it often sounds as if Jerry sang "In the heat of the evening when the dealer got rough"

(3) Jerry normally sang sings "the look that's in her eyes", though the original Hunter lyrics are "the love that's in her eye" - and that's what Hunter sings when he does it in concert.

(4) Jerry at least once sang "And there's nothing wrong with the way she caught my eye"

(5) there are a few minor differences between Garcia's and Hunter's version of the lyrics to this verse. Hunter has "... played Tea for Two" rather than "playing"; he also has "Strangers stop strangers" rather then "stopping"

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