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  1. I would like to open a discussion on the lyrics of Terrapin Station. I honestly think I might have posted such a topic many years ago, but my search failed to reconcile the vague memories, so I do apologize if this is a repeat. Much of my time over the past few years has been spent on the lyrics of The Velvet Underground/Lou Reed amongst a few more minor bands. However, today is a good day for some GD, and what better than their masterpiece Terrapin Station, which some even consider to be the magnum opus of the Hunter/Garcia songwriting partnership. I was inspired to analyze the lyrics to this song after watching the Tarkovsky masterpiece Andrei Rublev, which made me think a lot about this song. Maybe at some later point, I will go into why I think the two relate...if anyone has seen the film/cares to hear me ramble. In order not to overload this first post, I think I am only going to publish the Lady with a Fan section first, Maybe other’s thoughts will help inform interpretations of the later sections. So without further delay let’s begin… Lady with a Fan LWAF serves as the central allegory to this song. In this section there are four main characters (in sequence of appearance): the storyteller, the sailor, the soldier, and the lady with a fan. 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 The first two verses focus on our storyteller. They seem to play much into the idea of a Homeric poetic who tells stories from memory and with poetic rhythm. The calling to “let my inspiration flow” implies some sort of divine intervention that will take place in order to tell this story. Perhaps the storyteller is merely some sort of conduit for this celestial story/knowledge that is about to be conveyed to us. Shadows of a sailor forming winds both foul and fair all swarm down in Carlisle he loved a lady many years ago I found it interesting the mentioning of a singular lady. This gives us a glimpse into the level of love this sailor may have once had. In addition, the fact that is was many years ago, shows us that he has either been unable to recover from this love emotionally or has yet to find someone dear enough to him. Regardless, this sets up the clear idea that the sailor is a much more emotional person in contrast to the soldier. Carlisle is likely a reference to the old English city that served as an important military settlement, being once the military stronghold of Rome to defend Hadrian’s wall and later a battleground area between Scotland and England. It gives us a setting of the UK, with the story being told in Scotland, but I am not sure of any significance to this. My guess is that Carlisle simply sounded best in the song. Here beside him stands a man a soldier by the looks of him who came through many fights but lost at love These lines give us a glimpse into the type of person the soldier is. Saying that he “came through many fights but lost at love” gives us an indication that he has been quite successful in his vocational duties, likely highly respected amongst his fellow soldiers. However, his dedication to his life as a soldier has caused him to fail at ever finding love, whether he has cared to find it or not. This shows us where his focus lies, which contrasts that of the sailor, who has given his life more to love and had once had a committed relationship. The contrast between the sailor/soldier reminds me much of the Meyers-Briggs contrast between F/T. 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" Here we are introduced to our fourth and final character of the eponymous allegory, the lady with a fan. With “eyes alight with glowing hair all that fancy paints as fair” we are given that this is a someone of divine like beauty, powerful enough that men of great power and fortune act foolhardy in hopes of attaining her affection. Beyond this, we are not really given a glimpse into the type of person she is. The sailor gave at least a try the soldier being much too wise strategy was his strength and not disaster Here the characters play into their attributes we have been given. The sailor, driven by his emotions, immediately leaps into the lion's den to retrieve the fan, with little concern for his wellbeing, whereas the soldier relying more on logic and strategy does not. The sailor coming out again the lady fairly lept at him that's how it stands today you decide if he was wise The sailor comes out again from the lion's den, presumably with the fan this time—we don’t really know. Regardless he has clearly won the lady. Importantly we are told “that’s how it stands today”. This shows us that the lady was not deceitful and they theoretically live “happily ever after”. Even more importantly we are told “you decide if he was wise”. Although it may seem the sailor is the one who won and the soldier walked away with nothing from this encounter, is that really the case? What does the soldier have? The storyteller makes no choice soon you will not hear his voice his job is to shed light and not to master This plays much into the idea of all great storytellers. Their job not being able to tell us what to do, but simply to illuminate the complications of life and decisions we must face. This really embodies the approach Hunter has always had to lyrics, to simply shed light. 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 The storyteller has served their role and we compensate them for it. We may wish to know more, but the storyteller would be doing us a disservice if they did. It reminds me of when I was a child and would be upset when movies ended on cliffhangers or just left you in some ambiguous state. I would always wonder “but what happens?” As I grew older, I realized this was exactly what they were supposed to do. Storytellers are not there to tell us how to think or what is right and wrong but simply give us things to think about so that we can decide for ourselves.
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