To Lay Me Down

Album: Garcia (1972)
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Songfacts®:

  • "To Lay Me Down" is a song of longing for a lost lover. In it, Jerry Garcia, through words written by lyricist Robert Hunter, sings some of his sweetest vocals about yearning for one more chance to lay down in the grass with a former love.
  • The song originally appeared in 1972 on Jerry Garcia's first solo album, Garcia, but as Hunter told VH1 in 1997, it was written on the same afternoon as "Ripple" and "Brokedown Palace," both of which appeared on the Grateful Dead album American Beauty two years prior. That writing session occurred in the home of Dead friend Alan Trist in West Kensington, London. Hunter had drunk half a bottle of wine (Greek retsina, to be exact) when the songs came to him.

    Running through all three songs from that afternoon is a sense of yearning and mourning for lost things of the past. Though "To Lay Me Down" did not get recorded with its siblings on American Beauty, the common thread between them is obvious upon listening.
  • The seed for "To Lay Me Down" had been planted the day before it was written when Robert Hunter was visiting Hampstead Heath, which is a 790-acre heath in central London. A heath is shrubland habitat relatively commonly found in England.

    In the liner notes for a Jerry Garcia boxset titled All Good Things, Hunter explains that he'd been lying in the grass ("to lay me down with my head in sparklin' clover") at Hampstead Heath visiting a girlfriend from his younger years. The song was in fact originally titled "Hampstead Heath."

    He'd been lying down across from a pub named Jack Straw's Castle, which Deadheads will immediately recognize as a reference to the character in the Dead song "Jack Straw."
  • Though it's technically a Jerry Garcia song in the sense that he recorded it solo, the Dead performed "To Lay Me Down" at least 64 times live.

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