Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Box of Rain

It occurred to me that while my blog's name has meaning to me, it probably does not to most other people.

Box of Rain is the name of a song by the Grateful Dead. Phil Lesh wrote the music when his father was dying of cancer. He presented a tape with the melody, chords, and phrasings, to Robert Hunter, who penned the lyrics. For a lot of deadheads (myself included), this song is one we come to in times of sadness. (As a side note, I am also a gospel fan, so this is far from the only song I come to in such times.)

There is an annotated version of the lyrics on David Dodd's Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics site. Also published on that page is an email exchange between Hunter and a fan in which the fan asks what he meant by the phrase "box of rain." Hunter's response was:

well, I don't like to do this, since it encourages others to ask about what I had in mind when I wrote a song, and mostly you'd need to have my mind to understand even approximately what I had in it. By "box of rain," I meant the world we live on, but "ball" of rain didn't have the right ring to my ear, so box it became, and I don't know who put it there.

So, the song is one I find to be of comfort; further, it has several specific lyrics that have seemed especially apt to me of late (see italicized lines below). And, ultimately, this blog provides a bit of a glimpse into the box of rain P and I live on. Hence the name.

Lyrics:

Look out of any window
any morning, any evening, any day
Maybe the sun is shining
birds are winging or
rain is falling from a heavy sky -
What do you want me to do,
to do for you to see you through?
this is all a dream we dreamed
one afternoon long ago
Walk out of any doorway
feel your way, feel your way
like the day before
Maybe you'll find direction
around some corner
where it's been waiting to meet you -
What do you want me to do,
to watch for you while you're sleeping?
Well please don't be surprised
when you find me dreaming too

Look into any eyes
you find by you, you can see
clear through to another day
I know it's been seen before
through other eyes on other days
while going home --
What do you want me to do,
to do for you to see you through?
It's all a dream we dreamed
one afternoon long ago

Walk into splintered sunlight
Inch your way through dead dreams
to another land
Maybe you're tired and broken
Your tongue is twisted
with words half spoken
and thoughts unclear
What do you want me to do
to do for you to see you through
A box of rain will ease the pain
and love will see you through
Just a box of rain -
wind and water -
Believe it if you need it,
if you don't just pass it on
Sun and shower -
Wind and rain -
in and out the window
like a moth before a flame

It's just a box of rain
I don't know who put it there
Believe it if you need it
or leave it if you dare
But it's just a box of rain
or a ribbon for your hair
Such a long long time to be gone
and a short time to be there

5 comments:

Katie said...

I didn't know the meaning behind it, but I always loved your title anyway. Now that I know the meaning. . . well, it's just perfect.

niobe said...

Thank you for the explanation.

niobe said...

Because, she says, having hit publish a bit too precipitously, without the explanation, I saw the title as as a sad one.

I had in mind an image something like the cartoon character who walks around with a perpetual rain cloud over his head, when, for everyone else, the sun is shining and the day is warm and bright.

Zooomabooma said...

One of the most beloved Dead songs ever, that's for sure.

"Believe it if you need it, or leave it if you dare."

Anonymous said...

"A box of rain will ease the pain, and love will see you through" --- That lyric is tattooed across my shoulder blade. My dad loved the Grateful Dead.