"Sunrise" was written and sung by the only female member of the Grateful Dead, Donna Jean Godchaux, who was with the band from 1972-1979. The song is about a Native American medicine man named Rolling Thunder, who spent a lot of time with the Dead.
"'Sunrise' is about sunrise services we attended and what Rolling Thunder would do," Godchaux said on the Songfacts Podcast
. "It's very literal actually. Rolling Thunder would conduct a sunrise service, so that's how that came about."