"Ripple" as written by Jerome J. Garcia and Robert C. Hunter....
If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung
Would you hear my voice come through the music
Would you hold it near as it were your own?

It's a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken
Perhaps they're better left unsung
I don't know, don't really care
Let there be songs to fill the air

Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow

Reach out your hand if your cup be empty
If your cup is full may it be again
Let it be known there is a fountain
That was not made by the hands of men

There is a road, no simple highway
Between the dawn and the dark of night
And if you go no one may follow
That path is for your steps alone

Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow

You who choose to lead must follow
But if you fall you fall alone
If you should stand then who's to guide you?
If I knew the way I would take you home


Lyrics submitted by itsmyownmind

"Ripple" as written by Robert C. Hunter Jerome J. Garcia

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

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Ripple song meanings
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  • +4
    General CommentIncredible song. Jerry really helps bring the lyrics to life. Long live the king.

    "There is a road, no simple highway
    Between the dawn and the dark of night
    And if you go no one may follow
    That path is for your steps alone"

    This part of the song is incredible; the whole song gives a freedom of choice, walk your own path, existentialist kind of feel, and I think this part is one of the most interesting and accurate interpritations of life in a lyric form. Genius.
    Gratefateon March 18, 2003   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThe song to me means, First verse: if you saw the words to a song. Would you hear his voice and sing from memory. Second verse: of stories handed down from generation to generation. Third verse: bad stories of past events that may have happened in a family back in the day but it's over now so maybe it shouldn't be spoke of anymore. Fourth verse:if you lack knowledge of the higher power seek it. If you have knowledge keep going God has more for you. Fifth verse: your on your own road. What you choose is what it will be.sixth verse:you will be lead by darkness or light. He wishes he knew the right way to guide you. But your on your own... totally love this song. It means so much to me..
    understanding!?!?on June 08, 2014   Link
  • +2
    General Commentwhile its tough to pull a direct meaning out of the song, i believe this song is about death in a round-about way. its more about passing from life to the after life. in this verse:

    There is a road, no simple highway
    Between the dawn and the dark of night
    And if you go no one may follow
    That path is for your steps alone

    he talks of a road between light and dark and the road is not one that anyone can follow you on.

    in the chorus:

    Ripple in still water
    When there is no pebble tossed
    Nor wind to blow

    he omens to what i would call an 'otherwolrdly' presence, a ripple in still water, with no stone thrown or wind blowing.

    just my thoughts, as previously stated, this would be a wonderful song to have played at a funeral, a great way to remember a loved one, a ripple in still water.
    davidj420on June 28, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIf my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
    And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung
    Would you hear my voice come through the music
    Would you hold it near as it were your own?

    Hypothetical question
    could words be magical glowing with...gold and power of the sun
    and you can't get that tune out of your head
    or the words that get stuck in your head
    and soon it is like the words are your own

    It's a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken
    Perhaps they're better left unsung
    I don't know, don't really care
    Let there be songs to fill the air

    The words are not yours they break your own thought
    maybe it is better if this wasn't sung
    but he doesn't know or care
    so do as though wilt

    (Chorus)

    Ripple in still water
    When there is no pebble tossed
    Nor wind to blow

    there is a dead body in the water sinking
    air bubbles floating to the top
    don't need wind or pebbles for that

    Reach out your hand if your cup be empty
    If your cup is full may it be again
    Let it be known there is a fountain
    That was not made by the hands of men

    This is the sacrifice for nothing is for free in the world.
    But the fountain of wealth you fill your cup from does not come from man.

    There is a road, no simple highway
    Between the dawn and the dark of night
    And if you go no one may follow
    That path is for your steps alone

    There are certain steps you must take
    to part the veil of dark and light
    no one can do it for you
    for it must be of your own freewill

    You who choose to lead must follow
    But if you fall you fall alone
    If you should stand then who's to guide you?
    If I knew the way I would take you home

    when you make that choice of your own freewill
    then you must follow the lead of the one who guides you
    If you fail you will die alone
    If it was up the writer they would guide you
    but they do not have that knowledge nor ability

    hmmm maybe I should make my comments rhyme?
    ReflectingOnRealityon November 03, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentTo me this song means:

    That every individual is on a “path” of their own as they go through life; and every individual must interpret life and its meaning for themselves. No choice.

    The chorus:

    Ripple in still water
    When there is no pebble tossed
    Nor wind to blow

    …means life’s meaning will come out of nowhere, in your mind and consciousness, in other words from the fountain not made by the hands of man.

    The songwriter is saying he/she would like to define life’s meaning and path, but he/she cannot, and it’s best you figure it out on your own, and in the end, that’s how it will happen anyhow…with the help of the fountain and the ripple without a cause.

    It’s like a parent or significant other squaring with you and saying that they love you, but…for the deep stuff…you have to figure it out for yourself.

    The song also says if someone thinks they have the answer or answers for others as a leader, well, they only have the answers for themselves.

    The song is about the deep personal stuff.

    I love the clarity of this song.
    motoon March 02, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthere's a link from Annotated Dead to a 1988 sermon by Elizabeth Greene regarding this song. It's here: arts.ucsc.edu/gdead/agdl/…
    emanrogaon December 21, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe first line asks questions about what is it about music ( and the strange attraction of the Dead) that reaches people- it's not superficial or obvious,not the singer ,or the instrument, But what makes it seem alive? Why does it touch someone ?The 2nd line It'sa hand me down,the thoughts are broken Means there is something the singer ,and listeners recieve that's been passed down,and the source is unknown. The singer questions wether he shoudl even pass this on ,but loves the music and so throws caution to the wind. The chorus says that there is something invisible that moves through the water,the song life,This seem sto suggest spiritual force.
    Reach out your hand if your cup is empty-ask and it shall be added unto you,if your cup is full may it be again,The singer wishes well to all but takes no responsibility-the fountain of life and abundance was not made by humans
    There is a road...between the dark and the dark of night-Between birth and death we each have our own path ,our own life.
    If you lead ,must follow,among other things implies that the leader is dependent on the followers,and should serve them. if you should fall,your followers will abandon you, I fyou shoudl stand-how will you know where to lead-It suggests caution abotu being willing to play the role of leader. The last line ,If I knew the way ,I wold take you home,says.among other thinsg the singer is not playing the role of leader,doesn't claim to have knowlegde about these mysterires ,but does express good will toward the listener. Garica in a nut shell. He wishes all well ,he shares the beauty and abundance he finds He makes no claim to mastery,wishes all well on their personal journey of life. The chorus sugessts the experience of spiritual forces as the source of life beauty and abundance.But the singer seems to say-there's mystery here the ripple in still ater -What will you make of it?
    sambaon February 25, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis song was played at a funeral for my friend. well it wasn't his funeral, it was just a kindof rememberance ceremony. He was a great musician, and so are his friends, so they played this song in his honor. It was really fitting, and it makes me remember being in that white church with the whole town. I miss him a whole lot
    Rave to the Grave J.V.
    frojabottaon January 06, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI diagrammed this song at one point. The lyrics are from Robert Hunter not Jerry Garcia who wrote the music.

    i think Garcia came to Hunter with the tune and then Hunter began writing the lyrics.

    He had a fragment of a verse he had written before and used it here.

    It's a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken
    Perhaps they're better left unsung
    I don't know, don't really care
    Let there be songs to fill the air

    The previous verse is the hand me down. And he doesn't remember what they were meant for. But that is OK.

    Because what is important is the music, not the forgotten meaning of the previous verse.

    In other words he was melding the lyrics from a previous song or poem unto this song.

    With beautiful results
    Durangoon May 12, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is the song about the songs that have helped us answer important questions about who we are. Even before words or lyrics there were beats that sang about "this". We look around and see all the religions. They all say to follow their way, their path, to the promise land. But if you choose the wrong way then you will parish. Ripple makes true sense of it all. The Great Creator is her if we right about it, or not. Major religions try to define it. But it can not be molded by ideology. This "way" that is being referred to here is about finding your true North. Then, follow it with all of the passion you can muster.
    Neb420IPAon February 27, 2011   Link

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