"China Cat Sunflower" as written by Jerome J. Garcia and Robert C. Hunter....
Look for a while at the China Cat sunflower,
Proud walking jingle in the midnight sun.
Copperdome bodhi drip a silver kimono,
Like a crazy quilt stargown through a dream night wind.
Crazy cat peekin' through a lace bandanna,
Like a one-eyed Cheshire, like a diamond-eye jack.
A leaf of all colors plays a golden-string fiddle,
To a double-E waterfall over my back.
Comic book colors on a violin river Cryin' Leonardo,
Words from out a silk trombone.
I rang a silent bell, beneath a shower of pearls,
In the eagle-winged palace of the Queen Chinee.


Lyrics submitted by itsmyownmind

China Cat Sunflower song meanings
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16 Comments

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  • +2
    Song FactWhen this song was first played live over the earliest months of 1968, it was often sandwiched between "Dark Star" and "The Eleven." In 1968 it was played in the key of E as well; over time they would switch to the key of G for this song and there it would stay until the end of the band's career together. Perhaps most interestingly, on the early live versions (again, 1968), Garcia plays the distinctive lead part we all know and love instead of Bob Weir, who would eventually play it while Garcia played the bit that you hear opening the song behind it. I love the early '68 versions - they had a bite to them, much heavier than you'd expect. Check out the one from Crystal Ballroom, Portland OR 2/3/68. Incredible stuff!
    DelilahJoneson September 10, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General Commentyeah he plays it different everytime, its sick
    Your_Biznatchon November 14, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is such a lovely song. The main riff is so cool!
    Frank N Furteron July 07, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI forgot to mention, this song is soooooooooo much better when performed live.
    Frank N Furteron July 07, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commentawesome song... isnt China Cat a slang term for heroin?
    getluckyon May 17, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti dunno...maybe

    awesome song though. one of my favorite dead songs. great combo with i know you rider
    nightkrawleron June 28, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentchina cat is a slang for heroin
    heres a link

    parentingteens.about.com/cs/herpes/l/…
    ross2pon August 25, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm not so sure that "china cat" is actually a slang term for heroin. Sites like that are notoriously unreliable because they're generally run by people with no real drug knowledge or experience.

    According to Robert Hunter, the song isn't really about anything. He wrote the lyrics on acid (shocking!) and wasn't in a real coherent state of mind.
    nooooooooon January 29, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYes the song isn't really about anything, its things you observe on an Acid trip. The supblot to the song was Hunter left the group for awhile in a dispute and stayed at the actual ChinaCat Sunflower hotel, hence the title and lyrics.
    You All Are Stupidon February 25, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHunter said in his lyric book "Box of Rain" that this is the only song that he's never had to explain the meaning. Some things people just "get".
    phlyme2themoonon April 01, 2007   Link

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