"Terrapin Station" as written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter....
Inspiration, move me brightly
light the song with sense and color
Hold away despair
more than this I will not ask
Faced with mysteries dark and vast
statements just seem vain at last

Some rise
some fall
some climb
to get to terrapin

Counting stars by candlelight
all are dim but one is bright
The spiral light of Venus
rising first and shining best
On, from the northwest corner
of a brand new crescent moon
While crickets and cicadas sing
a rare and different tune
Terrapin station

In the shadow of the moon, terrapin station
And I know we'll be there soon, terrapin
I can't figure out, terrapin
if it's the end or beginning, terrapin
But the train's put it's brakes on, terrapin
And the whistle is screaming, terrapin

Lyrics submitted by itsmyownmind, edited by motifxf8

"Terrapin Station" as written by Robert C. Hunter Jerome J. Garcia

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

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Terrapin Station song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentThis song was truely "inspired" from the start, written during a lightening storm at the same time Jerry came up with the tune.
    It is the archetypal story of the first part of the hero's quest. Because it is such an important story and the storyteller's responsibility to spin the tale correctly to create the alchemy, the magic, to convey the essential meaning, he begins with a prayer to the muses to tell the story well, filled with image and meaning, in order to bring life and purpose to the characters and make them real to us, so we can relate and find meaning in their universal story.
    The tale begins with the storyteller sitting around a fire as the winds whip the images he describes into form. Two figures appear. One is a sailor, a symbol of one that can navigate the waters of the unconscious. Just like the guy in Althea, or Simple Twist of Fate, this sailor had a chance at love and inspiration and didn't take it. He knows better now. The soldier stands next to him, too "wise" (aka "cautious") to take the chance to save the lady with the fan.
    The lady, of course, is the Anima. She showers the brave sailor with her gift of vision, purpose, and "inspiration". This sets him on his path to "terrapin station", the point of enlightenment, which all reach in their own way, on their own path, and in their own time. The Terrapin turtle is somewhat unique and can live on land and in water. Also, Venus has long been a symbol of the meeting point between heaven and earth, between the spiritual and profane.
    But then the hero discovers that Terrapin Station is not a stopping point, but a starting point, and there are endless cycles to enlightenment. However, at least his eyes are open and he is on the right path.
    trpnstn1on March 24, 2010   Link
  • +3
    General Commentfor a while, now, I always listen to this song and remember Robert Hunter's journal after the 9/11 where he says he was in New York and was sitting on the roof, 15 stores high that would face the world trade center and he started to sing terrapin station and while he sang it a strong wind blew around him and he felt like he was back to the days when he wrote it, and he kept repeating the line "hold away despair" over and over again.
    I always get to this part, now, with a tight knot in my throat.
    Robert Hunter's probably one of the best lyricists ever, for me.
    KitScotton December 24, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthis is my favorite gd song. whenever i try to understand it i always feels like hes talkin about tripping. the song is like a long story, kinda like a strange experince of thoughts. TERRAPIN seems like code for TRIPPIN to me...
    peaceistheonlywayon April 12, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentreminds me of the story of ulysses for some reason

    deadhead44on March 08, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think this song is about a mushroom trip...the cycle of life.
    chillsyo56on July 22, 2009   Link
  • +1
    My Opinion"While the firelight's aglow, strange shadows from the flames will grow,
    Till things we've never seen will seem familiar."

    That's eerily similar to something from Plato's Book VII. The fire/shadow part of Book VII has these people in a cave looking at a fire and seeing shadows. But as time went on their eyes became adjusted to the dark of the cave, and the began to see the shadows take familiar forms; i.e. they learned, they grew.

    I actually emailed Hunter in 1997 regarding a small problem with his then website and used the opportunity to ask him about Terrapin with regards to Plato's Book VII. He's been known to divuldge his thought processes occasionally. Anyway, he thanked me kindly for pointing out the problem, but steered 100% clear of my lyrical question. ... Which made me think I was on to something :)
    DaysBetweenon May 07, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI've heard that this is a fan favourite because many parts of the song are good descriptions of what the Grateful Dead experiance is all about.

    "The story teller makes no choice..." - a great thing about Robert Hunter's lyrics is that they don't dictate to you, they let you think and make up your own mind.

    "Inspiration, move me brightly..." This climax is so perfect... it's like a prayer to god for the inspiration for the performance to go well and not get tedious. The thing about the Dead's concerts is that they should all be unique, so it's so important for the jamming to be inspired rather than boring and unoriginal.
    x0nixon June 03, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentgood quizilla.com/users/PortSurfer/quizzes/What%20Grateful%20Dead%20song%20are%20you%3F/
    ****i got this song--see for urself
    sugarmagnoliaon November 21, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI honestly believe that this song was inspired by some higher power. It encompasses all the emotions and trials of life, good and evil. This is the greatest song ever written in my opinion. Each line deserves to be individually scrutinized and deciphered. It is a metaphor for life, love, loss, death, and everything in between.
    floppywoknoodleon May 28, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe Terrapin Station album and song is very underrated. I think this sixteen minute song is more better than people think it is.

    I love the beggining of the song. That's about my favorite part of Terrapin.
    Pink_Floyd_fanon April 14, 2007   Link

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