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Panama Red


New Riders of the Purple Sage

Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

New Riders of the Purple Sage performed with the Grateful Dead in the beginning of their career, and Jerry Garcia playing pedal steel guitar early on in the band. Originally this was played by Jerry Garcia with Peter Rowan in Old And In The Way in 1973. After Jerry Garcia stopped performing with New Riders of the Purple Sage, they recorded and premiered it on The Adventures Of Panama Red.
As much as this song is commonly mistaken to be about a disease, it is actually about a type of marijuana during the '70s. The song mentions the story of "Panama Red" who comes into town and starts to make people act crazy. Panama Red is the marijuana. (thanks, matt - jericho, NY, for above 2)
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Comments (4):

I just had to mention the great pedal steel on this and many other NRPS songs by Buddy Cage. Best pedal steel player in the land. He can make it sound happy, like on "Henry" or mournful like on "Last Lonely Eagle" Buddy was diagnosed with some form of blood cancer in early 2012, send some positive vibes out to him, the planet is definitely a happier place with him playing in it.
- Cheryl, linden, , NJ
Three other of my favorites of theirs are Rainbow, Glendale Train, and Last Lonely Eagle. They (NRPS) used to get a fair amount of play on the local DC-area alternative rock station out of Bethesda, MD, that I listened to a lot back in the 70's. On the 2nd Songfact--I never heard the topic of this song, in its heyday, being mistaken for a disease, although that may very well have come about later. No one of that era had any question what the song was about. Plenty of songs that some people think are about drugs, aren't; this one was never in doubt.
- Fred, Laurel, MD
Panama was a very potent weed back in the day; in
addition his white horse mescalino refers to
the natural hallucigin mescaline that was used
by hippies during the same period- NRPS was a
great party band- another one of their classics
was Lonesome L.A. Cowboy- flv
- francis l. vena, new york city,, NY
Nobody feels like workin, Panama Red is back in town. Brilliant.
- Andy, Custer, SD
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