Grateful Dead

Terrapin Station

Composed by Jerry Garcia / Robert Hunter

Song Review by

The title suite from the Grateful Dead’s Terrapin Station album includes seven distinct movements: “Lady With A Fan”, “Terrapin Station”, “Terrapin”, “Terrapin Transit”, “At A Siding”, “Terrapin Flyer” and “Refrain”. Although both the Dead as well as Robert Hunter (lyrics) recorded the full-length opus, only Hunter ever performed it live. Hunter’s version can be found on his Jack Of Roses (1980) LP -- which also includes the lyricists renditions of a few other Dead-related tunes such as “Friend Of The Devil”, “Delia DeLyon And Stagger Lee” [AKA “Stagger Lee”] and the traditional “Lady Of Carlisle” from which “Terrapin Station” gets its impetus. Beginning in early 1977, the Dead began to regularly integrate the first three sections of the work into their concert repertoire under the generic title of “Terrapin Station”. The truncated track also appeared as the b-side for both “Dancin’ In The Streets” as well as “Passenger”. Hunter’s words are hypnotic in their beauty. There is a distinct Elizabethan presence in his verse, understating the stately nature inherent within the work. The relaxed lyrical cadence also dictates the even tempo flowing throughout the sections. Jerry Garcia (guitar/vocals) embodies the role of the narrator from the perspective of a sage-like character. He prefaces the tale with the opening couplets: “Let my inspiration flow/In token lines suggesting rhythm/That will not forsake me/‘Till my tale is told and done” -- invoking the listener into a story about the Lady of Carlisle and her two suitors. Garcia’s melody is structured to incorporate solos between the verses and to incrementally further the plotline into the subsequent movement(s). Typically, the suite would crescendo with a fervent “Terrapin” -- which would be followed by some open-ended ensemble interaction. The band would create a natural interaction that could lead the band into a myriad of directions. These range from a seamless segue into another song -- such as “Playing In The Band” -- or even headlong into a “Drums” percussion solo. There are a number of easily obtainable live versions of “Terrapin Station”. Among the Dick’s Picks vault releases to feature the track are volumes 3, 10, 15 and 17. Additionally, Dozin’ At The Knick (1996) as well as the multi-media View From The Vault (2000) and View From The Vault III (2002) include notable renditions.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Terrapin Station 1977 Arista
No Image 1977
Various Artists
Werewolves of Red Rocks 1993 Silver Rarities
Dick's Picks, Vol. 3 1995 Grateful Dead 5:58
The Arista Years 1996 Grateful Dead / Arista 16:22
Dozin' at the Knick: Live at Knickerbocker Arena 1996 6:32
Ticket to New Year's 1996 Shout! Factory
So Many Roads (1965-1995) 1999 Grateful Dead / Rhino 12:34
Dick's Picks, Vol. 15: Raceway Park, Englishtown, NJ 9/3/77 1999 Real Gone Music
Dick's Picks, Vol. 10: Winterland Arena, December 29, 1977 2000 Real Gone Music 10:29
A View from the Vault [Video/DVD] 2000 Shout! Factory
View from the Vault 2000 Grateful Dead 14:56
View from the Vault III 2002 Monterey Video 15:20
View from the Vault III 2002 Monterey Video 15:20
View from the Vault IV 2003 Monterey Video 11:47
The Closing of Winterland: December 31, 1978 2003 Grateful Dead / Rhino 12:27
Truckin' Up to Buffalo: July 4, 1989 2005 Shout! Factory
Truckin' Up to Buffalo: July 4, 1989 2005 Original Recordings Group
No Image 2008 Grateful Dead / Rhino 11:28
No Image 2008 Grateful Dead 11:29
To Terrapin: May 28, 1977 Hartford, CT 2009 Rhino 11:06
No Image 2009 Grateful Dead / Rhino 14:02
No Image 2011 Grateful Dead / Rhino 11:41
No Image 2011 Grateful Dead / Rhino 11:58
Dick's Picks, Vol. 29: 5/19/77 Fox Theatre, Atlanta, GA and 5/21/77 Lakeland Civic Center Arena, Lakeland, FL 2012 Razor & Tie / Real Gone Music 11:43
The Best of the Grateful Dead 2015 GC / Grateful Dead / Rhino 16:22
30 Trips Around the Sun [80-CD Set] 2015 Grateful Dead / Rhino 11:55
Fare Thee Well: The Final Show, July 5, 2015 [Video] 2015 Rhino
Dick's Picks, Vol. 3: Pembroke Pines, Florida 5/22/77 2015 Real Gone Music 5:58
Red Rocks 7/8/78 2016 Grateful Dead / Rhino 10:54
No Image 2017 Grateful Dead
No Image Grateful Dead / Rhino 11:58
Grateful Dead Download Series, Vol. 1: Palladium, New York, NY Grateful Dead / Rhino 10:09
No Image Grateful Dead / Rhino 15:25
No Image Grateful Dead / Rhino 13:14
blue highlight denotes editor's pick