Grateful Dead Song Notes

Collected from

Bus Stop
Aiko Aiko Beat it On Down the Line Lovelight Monkey & the Engineer

Aiko Aiko (a.k.a. Iko Iko)

From: (Grant Gouldon)
Subject: talkin bout Hey Now! Iko Iko origins
Keywords: Iko Aiko
Date: 19 Jul 91 17:26:19 GMT

Here is some info on the origins of Iko Iko (my preferred spelling :-)
first from the liner notes from the Dr. John album - "Dr. John's Gumbo"

Iko Iko

This song was written and recorded back in the early 1950's by a New Orleans singer named James Crawford who worked under the name of Sugar Boy & The Cane Cutters. In the original group were Professor Longhair on piano, Jake Myles, Big Boy Myles, Irv Bannister on guitar, and Eugene 'Bones' Jones on drums. This group was also known as the Cipaka Shaweez. The song was originally called 'Jockomo' and it has a lot of Creole patois in it. Jockomo means 'jester' in the old myth. It is Mardi Gras music, and the Shaweez was one of many Mardi Gras groups who dressed up in far out Indian costumes and came on as Indian tribes. The tribes used to hang out on Claiborne Avenue and used to get juiced up there getting ready to perform and 'second time' in their own special style during Mardi Gras. That's dead and gone now because there's a freeway where those grounds used to be. The tribes were like social clubs who lived all year for Mardi Gras. getting their costumes together. Many of them were musicians, gamblers, hustlers and pimps.

[liner notes by Mac Rebenack (dr. john)]
Dr. John's Gumbo is an aligator records re-issue of an Atlantic album copyright 1972 produced by Jerry Wexler and Harold Battiste (an absolutely essential record!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

AL 3901
Aligator Records & Artist Management, Inc.
Box 60234, Chicago, IL 60660

and now, from the liner notes of Sugar Boy Crawford

James Crawford was born in New Orleans on October 12, 1934. He grew up on Lasalle Street in the uptown section of the city. James Crawford was born in New Orleans on October 12, 1934. He grew up on Lasalle Street in the uptown section of the city. This neighborhood was the home territory of many of the Mardi Gras Indian tribes whose percussive rhythms and chants were to have a strong influence on Sugar Boy's style. By the time he was 12 years old he had taught himself to play piano by listening to greats like Paul Gayten and Fats Washington at the Dew Drop Inn where he had to sneak in the back door since he was underage.

By 1951 he had formed his own band composed entirely of his classmates and neighborhood friends. This band included Dave Lastie, Edgar "Big Boy" Muyles, Irving Bannister, and Warren Jake Myles. Their first gig was at the Shadow Land Club on Washington Avenue. Their fame grew quickly and they soon had a regular Saturday morning show hosted by Doctor Daddy-O on radio station WMRY. They named their instrumental theme "Chapaka Shawee" which were the only words of Cajun French they could remember from early childhood. Since the group did not have a name Dr. Daddy-O dubbed them the Chapaka Shaweez. Their first recording session for Aladdin Records took place at the J&M studios on November 23, 1952. The one release from that session, "No One To Love Me" did not sell at all but has since acquired legendary status among R&B collectors not only because of its extreme rarity but also because of Sugar Boy's crying monologue at the end of the song.

Sugar Boy's first Checker session took place in 1954: "When I did that first record I Don't Know What I'll Do Leonard Chess gave me a five dollar bill. That was five dollars for the whole band, not five dollars each. And we were happy because we didn't know what was going on. We went a couple of blocks away and bought us some red beans and rice and got us some wine and that was it. In fact, I didn't know the record was going to be released. Nobody did, really. We made that record in the studio of radio station WMRY. We used to rehearse after hours at the station. One day Leornard Chess was in there and he said he'd like to hear something that we had made up. So we did a couple of numbers and when we finished he said "I might have a surprise for you." And he gave me five dollars. So I thought maybe he was coming back later to record me, but about a month later the disc jockey, Ernie The Whip, called me to come to the station. I went there and he had my record I Don't Know What I'll Do. And I hadn't even signed a contract." It was at this time that the name of the band was changed to Sugar Boy and the Cane Cutters because Chess did not like the name Shaweez. "Sugar Boy" had been a childhood nickname but "Cane Cutters" was an invention of Leonard Chess.

Terry Pattison, Contributing Editor Living Blues
c/o Center for the Study of Southern Culture
University of Mississippi,
University, MS 38677

The album is a double album, with Jockomo coming in at 2:27 very interesting version, and a real rush to hear the original!

All songs written by James Crawford, Published by Arc Music, BMI Produced by Leonard Chess

Jockomo was recorded in 1954

Sugarboy Crawford
Chess Jazz Master Series
copyright 1984
Chess Records, a division of Sugar Hill Records, Ltd.
96 West Street
Englewood, NJ 07631

Beat it On Down the Line

From: 34T6SUR@CMUVM.BITNET (Brian Clark)
Subject: Beat It On Down The Line
Date: 29 Jul 91 20:16:19 GMT

The Dead recorded BIODTL for their debut album in 1967. It had been a part of the Dead's live shows since the very beginning. Given the difficulty of obtaining accurate set list data for this time period, we can't say for certain when the first performance was. The first documented (from Deadbase IV) appearance of BIODTL in the Dead's live shows was March 19, 1966 at the Pico Acid Test in Los Angeles. It is likely that BIODTL was also included in early Warlocks shows as well. Deadbase IV lists BIODTL as having been played 280 times through 1990. The Dead's version is faithful to the original, with some minor lyrical changes. Some of the words are difficult to discern from the CD; in particular the lines "Dangerous and money, little pay" and "Scamperin' on down the line" are in question. It's interesting that the Dead's version has different lyrics in both places. Maybe they had the same problems that I did figuring out the words! The reference to "Joe Browns's Coal Mine" appears in many traditional folk songs. This particular coal mine was known for using slave labor and working them particularly hard.

The most significant modification to the song was the introduction of an intro consisting of a number of "beats", with the number of beats having some significance. The particular meaning of the number of beats is not always obvious, often it matches the day of the month. The most beats on record is 42, in honor of Mickey Hart's 42nd birthday, while some versions omit the intro beats entirely. The song is a definite crowd pleaser, and the anal retentive among us will scrutinize the intro closely to determine the exact number of beats (my last was Albany 1991, 13 beats).


From: Randy Schechter <>
Subject: Unintelligible lyrics in "Lovelight" (Pigpens version)
Date: Mon, 25 Oct 1993 16:53:49 GMT

Someone recently asked about some lyrics in Pigpen's version of Lovelight that are unintelligible. I too was going crazy trying to figure out what he was saying and if the words were somehow dirty. Well I recently found the answer to this question which has puzzled me for a bunch of years. The following quote comes from the 1993 Annual Golden Road (used without permission)--it comes from a long interesting article about Pigpen entitled: "Pigpen Forever--The Life and Times of Ron McKernan" the quote is from Jerry Garcia , who says:

"He (Pigpen) loved Lord Buckley, and W.C. Fields was another of his faves. But I don't see that influence much in the music; more in him as a guy. I have no idea where he picked up most of that stuff (in the music). Some of it was bits and pieces of lyrics from old tunes that he'd pick up and then he'd extrapolate. But, like, I have no idea where he got that thing he used to sing (during "Lovelight"): 'She got box back nitties and great big noble thighs, working undercover with a boar hog's eye.' Don't ask me--I don't know what the fuck that's all about!
It's some weird mojo shit or something. But he could always pull that stuff out. He could do that as long as I knew him. When he was on, he was amazing."

So there you have it--even the guy playing right next to him for all those years has no idea what it means--now I don't feel so bad. For all I know these lyrics are dirty----but they're not what I though I was hearing (though I was never quite sure even about what I thought I was hearing)


"And leave it on".

Monkey and the Engineer

From: 34T6SUR@CMUVM.BITNET (Brian Clark)
Subject: Monkey and the Engineer
Date: 29 Jul 91 

This song is one of my favorite Dead cover songs. It takes equal parts of humor and irony and combines them to produce a song that is both funny and fun to listen to. The song has only been played by the Dead 31 times, the last being a rare electric version with special guest Bob Dylan on February 12, 1989. The first performance was December 19, 1969 at the Fillmore in San Francisco as part of a acoustic set. Almost all of the performances of this song have been acoustic versions, which accounts for it being played only 31 times. The majority of these were during acoustic sets in 1969-1970 (11 times) and again during the acoustic shows in 1980 (18 times). The Dead's version of the song is faithful to the original, with some slight changes. The term "north bound limited" refers to another train, and has been listed incorrectly on some lyric sheets that I have seen. "Monkey and the Engineer" appears on the 1981 Arista release "Reckoning", which was recorded during the acoustic shows in 1980 at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco and Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Jesse Fuller was a truly unique artist. Despite a life of poverty and hardship, he was able to maintain a sense of dignity and humor in his music. His songs brought a message hope and inspiration to several generations of folk music fans. His creativity extended to the world of instruments as well, he created the fotdella so that he did not have to depend on other musicians. It is comforting to know that his wit and humor has not been forgotten and that his songs will live on.

Aiko Aiko Beat it On Down the Line Lovelight Monkey & the Engineer
Bus Stop