Sugar Magnolia

Album: American Beauty (1970)
Charted: 91


  • Written by Robert Hunter and Bob Weir, "Sugar Magnolia" is one of the most well-known songs by the most obscurely famous band. First performed at the Fillmore West in San Francisco, in June of 1970, Deadheads will be quick to point out that "Sugar Magnolia" is the band's second-most-frequently-performed song, trailing only behind "Me & My Uncle."
  • The line "jump like a Willys in four wheel drive" refers to the model of jeep manufactured by Willys-Overland Motors, most likely the Willys MB, which saw the most production of the Willys line at over 335,000 produced for WWII. An article on the Willy jeep, complete with its jumping ability, appears in the November 1992 issue of Smithsonian magazine.
  • Frequently in live performances, this song is divided into two parts, with the coda coming long after the song proper. That delay might be a few drum beats, a few songs, or a few days, depending, as everything does, upon the mood of the band.
  • A typical literary reference is the similarity between the girl described in this song and the character Goldberry in J.R.R Tolkien's Fellowship of the Ring - right down to being down by the river and rolling in the rushes.

Comments: 2

  • Lazylightning from San Francisco, CaSugar magnolia is referencing the pastry chef at Magnolia Thunderpussy's restaurant that existed in the Haight neighborhood, late 1960's as far as I've heard. Here is a quote from Wiki: Magnolia Thunderpussy (30 October 1939 – 15 May 1996), born Patricia Donna Mallon was a San Francisco burlesque performer, radio personality, filmmaker and restaurateur. Thunderpussy operated two San Francisco restaurants in the 1960s: the one at 1398 Haight Street (at the corner of Haight and Masonic), which bore her name, featured a late-night delivery service and erotic desserts such as "The Montana Banana", which was an unsplit banana, representing a phallus, served "erect" in a food service "boat" with two scoops of ice cream, representing the other components of male genitalia, with shredded coconut, representing pubic hair, and a small dollop of whipped cream at the end of the banana. She created a host of other such delectables that, at the time, seemed incredibly scandalous.
  • Daniela from Buenos Aires, ArgentinaThis song is so pretty! My favourite by Grateful Dead :)
    Anybody knows what is it about?
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Spot The Real Red Hot Chili Peppers Song Titles

Spot The Real Red Hot Chili Peppers Song TitlesMusic Quiz

The Red Hot Chili Peppers have some rather unusual song titles - see if you can spot the real ones.

The Untold Story Of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine

The Untold Story Of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary MachineSong Writing

Fiona's highly-anticipated third album almost didn't make it. Here's how it finally came together after two years and a leak.

Jesus In Pop Hits: The Gospel Songs That Went Mainstream

Jesus In Pop Hits: The Gospel Songs That Went MainstreamSong Writing

These overtly religious songs crossed over to the pop charts, despite resistance from fans, and in many cases, churches.

Dave Alvin - "4th Of July"

Dave Alvin - "4th Of July"They're Playing My Song

When Dave recorded the first version of the song with his group the Blasters, producer Nick Lowe gave him some life-changing advice.

Ron and Russell Mael of Sparks

Ron and Russell Mael of SparksSongwriter Interviews

The men of Sparks on their album Hippopotamus, and how Morrissey handled it when they suggested he lighten up.

Phone Booth Songs

Phone Booth SongsSong Writing

Phone booths are nearly extinct, but they provided storylines for some of the most profound songs of the pre-cell phone era.