"Touch Of Grey" as written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter....
Must be getting early clocks are running late
Faint light of the morning sky looks so phony
Dawn is breaking everywhere
Light a candle curse the glare
Draw the curtains I don't care 'cause it's alright

I will get by I will get by
I will get by I will survive

I see you've got your fist out say your piece and get out
Yes I get the gist of it but it's alright
Sorry that you feel that way the only there is to say
Every silver lining's got a touch of grey

I will get by I will get by I will get by I will survive

It's a lesson to me the eagles and the beggars and the seas
The ABC's we all must face try to keep a little grace

It's a lesson to me the deltas and the east and the freeze
The ABC's we all think of and try to win a little love

I know the rent is in arrears the dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears but it's alright
Cow's giving kerosene, kid can't read at seventeen
The words he knows are all obscene but it's alright

I will get by I will get by I will get by I will survive

The shoe is on the hand that fits, there's really nothing much to it
Whistle through your teeth and spit 'cause it's alright
Oh well a touch of grey kinda suits you anyway
And that was all I had to say and it's alright

I will get by I will get by I will get by I will survive

We will get by we will get by we will get by we will survive
We will get by we will get by we will get by we will survive

Lyrics submitted by capitol76, edited by redsky8

"Touch of Grey" as written by Robert C. Hunter Jerome J. Garcia

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

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Touch Of Grey song meanings
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  • +8
    General CommentI have to apologize in advance for the length of my post... but trust me, you'll probably learn something if you read it.

    I want to start off by quoting Jerry Garcia. Someone asked him about the band name "The Grateful Dead". He said, "Well we always thought of it more as, uh, the death of the ego than any specific legend."

    Ego death is a subjective experience, i.e. it's different for everyone it happens to. Basically the ego can be thought of as one's concept of his or her self, and further, the whole of reality. So when the ego dies, one's entire views of reality are basically shattered. It commonly happens on psychedelics. You become fully aware that the reality of everything is completely beyond any grasping of the mind, because every time we create a mental concept it is never a complete representation of the one true reality.

    So, when Jerry says "I see you've got your list out, say your piece and get out" he seems to be saying that it's not a good idea to go on and on about what you think you know.

    Also, I believe the ABC's he talks about are these "lists" we all make. It's perfectly natural to try to figure things out, but to someone who's "awakened" to the actual reality beyond concepts, it's really truly pointless to go on and on. Plus, it's obviously egotistic to think any of our ideas are *absolutely* right.

    After going through ego death, we still make judgements about the world, our"selves", and others... but we understand that they're abstractions and ultimately unreal. Thus we face the ABCs, and "keep a little grace".

    Now that I think about it, a "paint-by-number morning sky" really would look pretty phony. :-)
    rynlnkon December 28, 2005   Link
  • +5
    General CommentThe key to this song is that change in the chorus in the last line.

    The narrator is trying to reconcile that his/her life has fallen short of expectations. They are dealing with their issues in an insular way and consoling themselves with the notion that "I will get by." Finally, at the end of the song, the narrator awakenings to the fact that it's not all about their problems. Everyone has struggles and challenges. There is some comfort in realizing that you are not alone in your struggles. You have a "misery loves company" moment that is the hallmark of the blues and country music.

    Finally the narrator sees that they aren't alone and finds comfort in this, "We will get by."
    FeyCheshiron November 03, 2012   Link
  • +3
    General CommentVery well put, rynlnk
    i was trying to explain that same thing to some people on the comfortably nump board,
    although youve phrased the experience much better than i did,it is truly something you will never understand unles you've had the experience,it almost seems like thats what they meant by the whole permanant damage bullcrap surounding certain drugs. if thats the case i recomend it to everyone.the world would be much better if everyone could find that sort of understanding about this WHOLE THING life ,planets, thought,sun, space ,nothing........................................... everything!!!
    Instead of prozac doctors should recomend the death of your ego every 6 months.
    And i feel that the line about the "paint by numbers sky";is probably the way the san fransiscan sky looked after 300mics or so
    anyway those were my thoughts after reading all of your post
    peace love and legalize marijuana
    lowlifeclownon January 09, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General CommentFirst off this is the greatest pick-me up song, and conforming to the crowd i believe it to be about getting by and knowing good times are right around the corner so as to never get down on yourself. Grateful Dead, they've saved me so many times.
    JoshuaAndersonon September 25, 2007   Link
  • +3
    Song MeaningThis is a great song, and very enjoyable. I'm no Dead expert, but the meaning to me is twofold. Its like a Country song that whines about making it through tough times that are self inflicted. The song also satires the irony of being around so many beautiful things, and seeing the downside. A paint-by-number sky is one of the most beautiful things in nature, especially at Dawn. Yet, the song is cursing the glare. No wonder he's raised a good for nothing (17 and can't read). A loser sets low goals in life like "getting by", then wonders why things never work out to be great! Aim low and you hit low. :)
    reallywhitehorseon July 18, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThe other day I was happily surprised at hearing "Touch of Grey" playing on a local (New York) radio station. The disc jockey Ken Dashow commented that Jerry wrote this song fifteen years ago, yet it could have been written yesterday. In these crazy, mixed-up, depressing times, it is important to persevere and keep your head up. With all of the confusion and chaos, the song is Jerry's call to just chill out and ride the shit wave onto shore. With all we are told to worry about, the song reveals that life owes itself to the contradictory nature of the human condition. There's no way to break life down to a science; it attests to the duality of life. But who knows? The song is amazing and even before thinking about its meaning, I loved it. "Touch of Grey" is the song which introduced me to the Dead when I was six years old but only started listening intently a few years ago. Dead music certainly matures as you age.
    josheron June 13, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti dont really get this song could someone explain it? all i know is that this song was playing while i was being born ... so its the first song i ever heard
    riverfenixangelon June 04, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentJust an incredible song, not only the lyrics and vocals, but the arrangement and musicianship are absolutely phenomonal! It definately reminds me of going through bad times and just saying "Fuck it, it's alright." When Jerry sings "Oh well, A touch of grey", there is so much expression in his voice, I've never heard anything like that before.
    johnnyespionageon January 29, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIt's sort of like you're down in the dirt, but looking up and seeing that it's just a rough patch and things aren't so bad, however, not making yourself ignorant by failing to acknowlege your problems (touch of grey).
    Thegodofhatson February 15, 2007   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningOK... Yes, the song is about riding through the hard times, no matter how bad they get.
    how ever there are other things to pay attention to in the song...

    Must be getting early(*losing time reference*)
    Clocks are running late(*in a time where things seem to be working right*)
    Paint by number morning sky,Looks so phony(*things don’t seem as beautiful as they once were*)
    Dawn is breaking everywhere
    Light a candle, curse the glare
    Draw the curtains
    I don't care 'cause
    It's all right(*in this part he's making a reference to the reassuring light in dark times, and that we shouldn't depend on it or fear darkness*)
    (chorus)I will get by, I will get by, I will get by, I will survive (*we will make it even in the worst of times*)
    I see you've got your list out
    Say your piece and get out(*during these times the draft was a big thing, people hated the list they used to read off*)
    Yes I get the gist of it
    but it's all right(*the people reading the list are just doing their jobs*)
    Sorry that you feel that way(*they believe it's for a good cause*)
    The only thing there is to say
    Every silver lining’s got a
    Touch of grey(*how can you look on the bright side, if even the bright side has a bit of bleakness*)
    (chorus)(*we will make it even in the worst of times*)
    It's a lesson to me
    The Ables and the Bakers and the C's (*in those time the military lettering was not “alpha, beta, cedar, delta”, it was “able, baker, etc., (they changed some of it because the enemy found out their coding system, but that another story) but the lists they read, were in alphabetical order*)
    The A B C's we all must face
    And try to keep a little grace(*they had no choice in the matter, they had to just deal*)
    It's a lesson to me
    The deltas and the east and the freeze (*more military alphabetical references*)
    The A B C's we all think of
    Try to give a little love.(*just show those who leave, you care for them*)
    I know the rent is in arrears
    The dog has not been fed in years
    It's even worse than it appears(*times are hard all over*)
    but it's all right.
    Cows giving kerosene(*the milk from the cows at that time were getting people sick due to the chemicals people were spraying near the pastures*)
    Kid can't read at seventeen(*families were fleeing to get away from the draft, and in the process of doing so, the kids were not able to attend schools*)
    The words he knows are all obscene(*when people everywhere are fighting, there foul language is on every ones mouth, kids hear that and mimic it*)
    but it's all right
    (chorus)(*we will make it even in the worst of times*)
    The shoe is on the hand it fits(*a reference to “if the shoe fits" combined with “the government has a hand in everything"*)
    There's really nothing much to it (*not really much anyone can do*)
    Whistle through your teeth and spit (*just keep your mouth shut, don’t even open it to whistle or spit *)
    cause it's all right.(*but we will still press on*)
    Oh well a Touch Of Grey
    Kind of suits you anyway.(*well, darkness suits some people*)
    That was all I had to say
    It's all right...
    (chorus)(*not only will i be OK*)
    We will get by, We will get by
    We will get by, We will survive (*we all will*)

    meaning by Nino Mazzola (*takes a bow*)
    ismdas333on November 29, 2009   Link

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