Working in a house of blue lights
Don Raye and Freddie Slack wrote a song titled "House of Blue Lights" in 1946. Pigpen may be referencing that in "Operator." It's more likely, though, that he's referencing "Good Golly Miss Molly
" by Little Richard.You caught Miss Molly, Miss Molly's
Rocking at the House of Blue Lights
Pigpen was a lover of the blues, and "Good Golly Miss Molly" was a very popular song in his early teen years, so the Little Richard inspiration seems more likely. Still, in a sense, he'd then be referencing both songs at once, because Little Richard is referencing the '46 tune in "Good Golly, Miss Molly."
In the Annotated Book of Grateful Dead Lyrics
, Dead historian David Dodd writes that Professor Gary Haggerty of the Berklee College of Music suggests that The House of Blue Lights was a nightclub in Chicago, Illinois.
An even stranger, less likely (but more intriguing) possibility is that he's referencing an infamously haunted house in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was called The House of Blue Lights for two reasons: (1) it was decorated year-round with blue Christmas lights, and (2) the owner of the house kept his dead wife in a glass casket wreathed with blue lights.
That owner was named Skiles Edward Test
, and he was a man of no little eccentricity.
This connection of the house to the song is, of course, highly unlikely, but it sure is fun to imagine.