"China Doll" as written by Jerome J. Garcia and Robert C. Hunter....
A pistol shot at five o'clock
The bells of heaven ring
Tell me what you done it for
No I won't tell you a thing

Yesterday I begged you
Before I hit the ground
All I leave behind me
Is only what I found

If you can abide it
Let the hurdy gurdy play
Stranger ones have come by here
Before they flew away

I will not condemn you
Nor yet would I deny
I would ask the same of you
But failing, will not die

Take up your china doll
It's only fractured
And a little nervous from the fall
La la la la la la la



Lyrics submitted by itsmyownmind

"China Doll" as written by Robert C. Hunter Jerome J. Garcia

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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China Doll song meanings
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14 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentTo me this song is a shining example of the genius of the Hunter/ Garcia legacy.I am often completely and totally blown away by some new thought about a Hunter Garcia song I have heard for decades. To me China doll is the gentle argument between the suicidal and someone questioning that choice. I have sung this song for years for my mom who took her life, never quite having the whole meaning of the song jell. Today it was the ending that blew me away...The china doll to me has come to represent an acknowledgement of the fragile ego and it is a doll because the fragile ego is often like a child who never outgrows the need for external approval. Sad, and touching. The thing that wows me as much as Hunter's lyrics is how Jerry put the lullaby ending on to it. Of course, as with all great lyrics ...YMMV. ( But really folks, the songs were not about doing drugs ... )
    riteron April 20, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is one of the Deads greatest songs. Simple, slow and very profound.
    bleach1229on October 15, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentA song about Suicide.

    Never a real huge fan of this song but i heard the Dead do it in the summer of '03 with Joan Osborne and she had my arms infested with goosebumps.
    Hedgeson June 08, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is one of the Deads greatest songs. Simple, slow and very profound.
    bleach1229on October 15, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentalways makes me think of getting dumped in high school by a girl I really dug...I was that broken china doll :(
    grenon December 26, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentah...poor gren, so sad. everyone loves this song. come on hedges joan is good but jerry!...JERRY!!!!
    nanukrbsiton September 13, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's about a murder or betrayal

    the words of the dead to the killer
    who offered no explaination
    "No I won't tell you a thing."

    it's about both moving on afterward
    Matt Holckon November 22, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe song is actually about a suicide. In fact, its original title was to be "Suicide Song." It's discussed in David Dodd's Annotated Dead Lyrics.

    The deceased is answering the living's query as to why s/he took his/her own Life.

    I'm just glad/half surprised no one's sayig the song's about drugs like they do in all the other GD song threads.:P
    SocietysPlierson July 10, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree its about murder , loss and betrayal


    Love the last lines ... and the redemption and hope they declare



    " I will not condemn you nor yet would I deny,
    I would ask the same of you, but failing, will not die.
    Take up your china doll, take up your china doll,
    it's only fractured and just a little nervous from the fall"
    jimmyjackjoneson March 13, 2009   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningWell no one's got it exactly right. It is about a suicide, but it's a dialogue between the victim and God. Strong Christian overtones in this one.
    yoachon March 19, 2009   Link

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