#170926  by FromWichita
 
This "understanding" of 'TN Jed' hit me I don't know how many years after I first heard it. I wonder if anyone/most folks get it immediately.

So, first line - "Cold iron shackles, ball and chain. Listen to the whistle of the evening train."

Chorus - "TN, TN, there ain't no place I'd rather be. Baby, won't you carry meeeeeeeee... back to TN!"

The narrator requests to be carried because he has the iron shackles, ball and chain on!

I attributed not having figured that out for years to Hunter's lyrical subtlety moreso to any shortcoming on my comprehensive abilities; also maybe because I don't listen to the tune much! I had a similar realization with 'Row Jimmy', which I posted about in that Forum. I'm going to post in 'Peggy-O' Forum about a realization about that song, though I know Hunter didn't write it.

"Sustine et abstine." - Epictetus
Bear and forbear.
 #170943  by TI4-1009
 
Or- he's sitting in prison and hears that evening train going by and wishes he was on that train heading back to good ol' Tennessee?

Or.....

Or....

Or, Hunter wrote it that way to keep it ambiguous,

Or, it's explained fuller in one of the 3,476 verses that Garcia chose not to use,

Or.....

:wink:
 #170946  by Jon S.
 
I believe Hunter would say that once he sent a lyric out into the world, it was no longer "his" but everyone's and means what - and no more or less what - you and I, its listeners, interpret it to mean. So the OP is right and so is everyone else.
 #170950  by Chocol8
 
Jon S. wrote: Wed May 12, 2021 9:51 am I believe Hunter would say that once he sent a lyric out into the world, it was no longer "his" but everyone's and means what - and no more or less what - you and I, its listeners, interpret it to mean. So the OP is right and so is everyone else.
While in many ways I agree, there are benefits to digging into the writers mind to learn his references and and way of thinking as well.

For example, when I was a kid, I had no idea that Stagger Lee was about a real guy “Stag” Lee Shelton who really murdered Billy Lyons in the late 1800’s over a Stetson hat. Learning about the origins of the lyrics in that song and related folk songs, I then learned about the Macks of St. Louis. The 1890’s Macks were flamboyant African American pimps whose influence was significant in the pimp culture of the 70’s, the funk movement, and then rap and hip hop. Researching that one song helped me understand and appreciate several other genres of music as well as aspects of clothing fashion.

Tracing the origins of Dead lyrics, their own and covers, can lead you to all sorts of places with a rewarding bit of knowledge gained about something you may have never known about otherwise. I want to learn the references, Hunter’s interpretation and message (where possible) and also how other people interpret the meaning. It makes the overall experience richer.
 #170954  by Jon S.
 
Robert Hunter, "Reply to to Jurgen Fauth's essay: 'The Fractals of Familiarity and Innovation: Robert Hunter and the Grateful Dead Concert Experience' ":

"[M]eaning is not an irreducible Ur-language. ...

As long as allusions can be codified, the semiotician is content, knowing that "meaning" is a case-sensitive term with scant referentiality outside implementation of primitive needs. When the semiotician suspects allusiveness without corresponding exact reference, he charges the poet with nonsense. Nonsense is a loaded word, the meaning of which is unclear. If it is understood as "intentional multi-referentiality without predetermined hierarchy" rather than "meaningless blather" one would find no fault with the term. But it isn't, so the charge of "nonsense" and "meaninglessness" levied by a scholarly and plausible source, does much to put people off exploring further. ...

The meaning(s), or lack thereof, ascribed by others to an example of lyric work are not part of the work. The interpretations are separate "works". The manner in which an audience receives the work, what they, collectively and individually, make of it, can indeed provide potential data for the allusiveness (referentiality)of future lyrics, gainsaid, but cannot be ascribed as a characteristic of the particular work, per se, with validity without "insider information" which is, in any case, no part of the song. That way lies true nonsense, even unto deconstruction. Yet the little bugger of a jingle persists and seems to move hearts. Why? Is there something which semiotics, by its nature and presuppositions, must exclude from the sphere of "meaningfulness" due to the limited nature of its tools?

Since the concluding remark of your essay stated that the Grateful Dead songs are "meaningless" I choose to reply by explicating one of your examples: "Franklin's Tower." I do this reluctantly because I feel that a straightforward statement of my original intent robs the listener of personal associations and replaces them with my own. I may know where they come from, but I don't know where they've been. My allusions are, admittedly, often not immediately accessible to those whose literary resources are broadly different than my own, but I wouldn't want my listeners' trust to be shaken by an acceptance of the category "meaningless" attached to a bundle of justified signifiers whose sources happen to escape the scope of simplistic reference."
8-6-71 for me liked this
 #170957  by 8-6-71 for me
 
Jon S. wrote: Thu May 13, 2021 6:54 am Robert Hunter, "Reply to to Jurgen Fauth's essay: 'The Fractals of Familiarity and Innovation: Robert Hunter and the Grateful Dead Concert Experience' ":

"[M]eaning is not an irreducible Ur-language. ...

As long as allusions can be codified, the semiotician is content, knowing that "meaning" is a case-sensitive term with scant referentiality outside implementation of primitive needs. When the semiotician suspects allusiveness without corresponding exact reference, he charges the poet with nonsense. Nonsense is a loaded word, the meaning of which is unclear. If it is understood as "intentional multi-referentiality without predetermined hierarchy" rather than "meaningless blather" one would find no fault with the term. But it isn't, so the charge of "nonsense" and "meaninglessness" levied by a scholarly and plausible source, does much to put people off exploring further. ...

The meaning(s), or lack thereof, ascribed by others to an example of lyric work are not part of the work. The interpretations are separate "works". The manner in which an audience receives the work, what they, collectively and individually, make of it, can indeed provide potential data for the allusiveness (referentiality)of future lyrics, gainsaid, but cannot be ascribed as a characteristic of the particular work, per se, with validity without "insider information" which is, in any case, no part of the song. That way lies true nonsense, even unto deconstruction. Yet the little bugger of a jingle persists and seems to move hearts. Why? Is there something which semiotics, by its nature and presuppositions, must exclude from the sphere of "meaningfulness" due to the limited nature of its tools?

Since the concluding remark of your essay stated that the Grateful Dead songs are "meaningless" I choose to reply by explicating one of your examples: "Franklin's Tower." I do this reluctantly because I feel that a straightforward statement of my original intent robs the listener of personal associations and replaces them with my own. I may know where they come from, but I don't know where they've been. My allusions are, admittedly, often not immediately accessible to those whose literary resources are broadly different than my own, but I wouldn't want my listeners' trust to be shaken by an acceptance of the category "meaningless" attached to a bundle of justified signifiers whose sources happen to escape the scope of simplistic reference."
I would submit that Phish lyrics are deliberately nonsensical (and I think for a philosophical reason), and the critic should have chosen an easier target. Robert Hunter was a good poet (and a translator of Rilke) and his critic, in this case, was not. There is authorial intent behind every work, even if it the perverse intention to be nonsensical. And there is always the the work's reception which is necessarily interpretation. The interaction of the two should be a source of discovery and pleasure.
Jon S. liked this
 #170958  by Jon S.
 
Phish's lyrics are silly but careful with the nonsense charge! For as Hunter put it in the piece I just quoted from,

"Nonsense is a loaded word, the meaning of which is unclear. If it is understood as "intentional multi-referentiality without predetermined hierarchy" rather than "meaningless blather" one would find no fault with the term. But it isn't, so the charge of "nonsense" and "meaninglessness" levied by a scholarly and plausible source, does much to put people off exploring further. ... [A]llusions are, admittedly, often not immediately accessible to those whose literary resources are broadly different than my own, but I wouldn't want my listeners' trust to be shaken by an acceptance of the category "meaningless" attached to a bundle of justified signifiers whose sources happen to escape the scope of simplistic reference."

This being said,

Won't you step into the freezer
Seize her with a tweezer

Won't you step into the freezer
Tease her with a tweezer

It's gonna be cold cold cold cold cold [4x]

Won't you step into the freezer
Please her with a tweezer

Won't you step into the freezer
Please her with a tweezer

It's gonna be cold cold cold cold cold [4x]

Look who's in the freezer
Uncle Ebenezer

is perhaps blather, but it's not meaningless! :rasta:
8-6-71 for me liked this
 #170959  by lbpesq
 
Don’t get me started on Phish lyrics! Lol

Suzy, Suzy, Suzy, Suzy, Suzy, Suzy Greenberg

We've got a saxophone
Cause we've got a band
And we've got saxophone in the band


Heavy! (now excuse me while I remove my tongue from my cheek)

Bill, tgo
Last edited by lbpesq on Fri May 14, 2021 12:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Chocol8 liked this
 #171039  by FromWichita
 
TI4-1009 wrote: Wed May 12, 2021 9:17 am Or- he's sitting in prison and hears that evening train going by and wishes he was on that train heading back to good ol' Tennessee?

Or.....

Or....

Or, Hunter wrote it that way to keep it ambiguous,

Or, it's explained fuller in one of the 3,476 verses that Garcia chose not to use,

Or.....

:wink:
Ambiguous stuff, sure - the series of couplets doesn't form a chronological narrative. The action (dropping flights, cracking spine, Honey bringing iodine, sleeping under the bed, running into Charlie Fog, etc.) seem to be mostly recollections and observations.

Jed pleads for "Baby" to carry him back to TN because of the shackles, ball & chain.
I don't assume there's been a jailbreak - not supported by the lyrics.
Maybe he's calling the train "Baby"... though how can Jed approach or board a train while in shackles, ball & chain?

"De omnibus dubitandum est." (All is to be doubted)