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.