"Dark Star" is a song released as a single by the Grateful Dead. It was written by lyricist Robert Hunter and composed by lead guitarist Jerry Garcia; however, compositional credit is sometimes extended to include Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, and Bob Weir. "Dark Star" was an early Grateful Dead classic and became one of their most loved and anticipated numbers, often with the group using it as a vehicle for musical improvisation sessions that extended beyond the original structure of the song. The song is included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll list and was ranked at number 57 on Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time. "Dark Star" was often the basis for jamming during the Dead's live shows, allowing the band to employ techniques typical of improvisational jazz.
In May 1967, Garcia composed the preliminary chords of the song, but it was at the time without lyrics. A handful of months later, Robert Hunter, who would become a longtime collaborator with the Grateful Dead, arrived in California and overheard the band playing around with the track. He immediately sat down and wrote the opening line, contributing the lyrics and name of the song.
Dark Star (Annotated)
for faults in the
clouds of delusion
in formless reflections
Glass hand dissolving
to ice petal flowers
Lady in velvet
in the nights of goodbye
Shall we go,
you and I
While we can?
the transitive nightfall
spinning a set
the stars through which
the tattered tales of axis
roll about the waxen wind of never
set to motion in the unbecoming
the reason hardly matters
nor the wise
through which the stars
were set in spin
-- song written by Robert Hunter, Jerry Garcia, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, and Bob Weir
In an absurd indifferent universe what matters? The virulent hallucination of love? (Or is there an authentic version; a burning chemistry lasting beyond the coupling & afterglow? All things are temporary. Everything is dissolving into nothingness again as we reach out &/or retract. Like the poet wrote: The center cannot hold. Nor should it. Nor will it. But what happens? Will we drown in fear as we're pulled away each from each? Can't we melt into one another before the final catastrophe of endless night? Is existence illusion? Or is it as an illusion, but real as the smell of you, the taste of you; as real as you before my eyes in the flesh or in memory.
There is nostalgia for the old days, bygone lovers, good times, even times of uncertainty. What ever happened to the young man standing bow-watch in the South China Sea chanting hare-krishna laughing singing shouting at the unseen dolphins & unseen deities avoiding the storm & massive vessel-crunching waves. Nature rears up. It cares not for poor humanity still dragging its knuckles across the plain in search of sustenance. Death approaches. And dissolution. The destruction of everything.
We perhaps put faith or better yet confidence in the laws of a cosmos that will resurrect itself. Do we come again? Is all eternal recurrence? Or is that too a wish-fulfillment fantasy used to protect ourselves from thoughts of oblivion. A billion years from now who we are this time around will no longer exist. Yet still I feel Love is stronger than Death. That my heart will be yours always. And if this too is wishful thinking then let me weep tears of grief for the passing of our kind of animal.
That we all too often choose war instead of peace, hatred instead of love, dreams instead of awakening, obfuscation instead of clarity, words we do not mean or that we can pose better instead of an honest display of verbal authenticity, words standing in for true emotions & reasoning. You want me to suppress my love? Or just its clumsy expression?
I try being worthy of you but you aren't very easy to relate to nor appease. Maybe that's why you're worth it. You're a handful. A shared woman. A challenge. Endlessly fascinating. Different. I can't help making plans to throw myself at your feet & begging for mercy. But not yet. One day, perhaps. When the weather changes. When my fearful love-sickness passes. But not yet.