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Terrapin Station

Terrapin Station has not been seen in 732 Phish shows.
It was last played: 1998-08-09.
It was played at 0.05% of live shows.
It has been performed live 1 time(s).

Music: Jerry Garcia

Lyrics: Robert Hunter

Original Artist: Grateful Dead

Original Album: Terrapin Station (1977)

Vocals: Trey (lead), Mike, Page (backing)

Debut: 1998-08-09

Historian: Chris Bertolet

The Grateful Dead's “Terrapin Station” is one of that band’s most beloved compositions, and its genesis is a miracle in its own right. According to Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, he and Jerry Garcia composed the words and music to this song simultaneously (and unbeknownst to each other) while watching an electrical storm crackle over San Francisco. As fate would have it, they just so happened to fit nicely together.

The first section of the celestial epic, “Lady With A Fan,” recounts the story of a Soldier and Sailor, who are both enchanted by a beautiful Lady. She puts a mortal challenge to them both, throwing her fan into a den of lions. While the calculating Soldier shrugs off the chance to win the Lady’s hand, the Sailor sides with passion and dives right in. Though the storyteller eschews a Hollywood ending, the message seems clear: in matters of the heart, set caution aside.

The second section is an ode to inspiration and the muse, sense and color, mystery and truth. It speaks of a place that crickets and cicadas sing of, a place that can be found only by those with adventure and passion in their hearts: Terrapin Station. That is also the name of the third section, a driving, percussive passage that repeats and heightens, opening a door to possibility. The concluding movements to “Terrapin Station” (“Terrapin Transit,” “At a Siding,” “Terrapin Flyer” and “Refrain”) never surfaced in the Dead’s live performances (with one exception, the nearly complete 3/18/77 rendition). In that regard, Phish’s lone rendition was no different.

Phish debuted this song in Virginia Beach on the third anniversary of Garcia’s death, perhaps inspired by a lovely full moon that hung over the amphitheater that night. By all accounts, the crowd’s slack-jawed reaction to the first signature guitar peal gave way quickly to hugs, tears of joy, and spontaneous acrobatics. On quality recordings, all of this crackling energy is palpable.

Though Phish hasn’t revisited it since, Trey and Page played an extended “Terrapin” in their Phil Lesh & Friends engagement in April 1999, and Trey joined Phil again for a lovely Terrapin on 6/30/06 in Camden, NJ.

Watch Terrapin Station on YouTube Grateful Dead "Terrapin Station" 4/27/77 Passaic, NJ


� Ice Nine Publishing Company, Inc.


Let my inspiration flow
in token lines suggesting rhythm
that will not forsake me
till my tale is told and done
While the firelight's aglow
strange shadows in the flames will grow
till things we've never seen
will seem familiar
Shadows of a sailor forming
winds both foul and fair all swarm
down in Carlisle he loved a lady
many years ago
Here beside him stands a man
a soldier by the looks of him
who came through many fights
but lost at love

While the storyteller speaks
a door within the fire creaks
suddenly flies open
and a girl is standing there
Eyes alight with glowing hair
all that fancy paints as fair
she takes her fan and throws it
in the lion's den
"Which of you to gain me, tell
will risk uncertain pains of Hell?
I will not forgive you
if you will not take the chance"
The sailor gave at least a try
the soldier being much too wise
strategy was his strength
and not disaster
The sailor coming out again
the lady fairly lept at him
that's how it stands today
you decide if he was wise
The storyteller makes no choice
soon you will not hear his voice
his job is to shed light
and not to master
Since the end is never told
we pay the teller off in gold
in hopes he will come back
but he cannot be bought or sold


Inspiration, move me brightly
light the song with sense and color,
hold away despair
More than this I will not ask
faced with mysteries dark and vast
statements just seem vain at last
some rise, some fall, some climb
to get to Terrapin
Counting stars by candlelight
all are dim but one is bright:
the spiral light of Venus
rising first and shining best,
From the northwest corner
of a brand-new crescent moon
crickets and cicadas sing
a rare and different tune
Terrapin Station
in the shadow of the moon
Terrapin Station
and I know we'll be there soon
Terrapin - I can't figure out
Terrapin - if it's an end or the beginning
Terrapin - but the train's got its brakes on
and the whistle is screaming: TERRAPIN


While you were gone
these spaces filled with darkness
The obvious was hidden
With nothing to believe in
the compass always points to Terrapin
The sullen wings of fortune beat like rain
You're back in Terrapin for good or ill again
For good or ill again

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