Dark Star
Lyrics: Robert Hunter
Music: Grateful Dead

Reprinted with permissions: copyright Ice Nine Publishing

Dark star crashes
Pouring its light into ashes
Reason tatters
The forces tear loose from the axis
Searchlight casting
For faults in the clouds of delusion

Shall we go, you and I, while we can?
Through the transitive nightfall of diamonds

Mirror shatters
In formless reflections of matter
Glass hand dissolving
To ice petal flowers revolving
Lady in velvet
Recedes in the nights of goodbye

Shall we go, you and I, while we can
Through the transitive nightfall of diamonds?

Robert Hunter wrote the following ending to the lyrics.
You can hear it being spoken at the end of the single version of "Dark Star"
- available on the compilation CD "What A Long Strange Trip."

Spinning a set the stars through which the tattered tales of axis roll
About the waxen wind of never set to motion in the unbecoming
Round about the reason hardly matters nor the wise through which
The stars were set in spin


Grateful Dead & Related Recordings

studio 1967 What A Long Strange Trip It's Been
16 Mar 1968 So Many Roads (1965-1995)
24 Aug 1968 Two From The Vault
11 Feb 1969 Fillmore East 2-11-69
27 Feb 1969 Live/Dead
8 Nov 1969 Dick's Picks Vol 16
28 Apr 1971 Ladies And Gentlemen ... The Grateful Dead
8 Apr 1972 Glastonbury Fayre (note 1)

(1) the Dead apparently gave permission for this "Dark Star" to be included on the box set of LPs issued to raise money for this (British) festival.

Other Recordings
Date - Album - Recorded By
1989 Fresh Tracks In Real Time - Tom Constanten
1989 Those Who Know History Are Doomed To Repeat It - Henry Kaiser
1990 Heart's Desire - Henry Kaiser
1993 A Historical Retrospective - Solar Circus
1993 Dead Ringers - Dead Ringers
1996 Dark Star: The Music Of The Grateful Dead - David Murray Octet
1997 Space Debris - Space Debris
1997 Pickin' On The Grateful Dead - David West et al
1998 Realms - Jamie Janover (instrumental)
1998 Blue Light Rain - Jazz Is Dead
1998 Welcome To Our World (For Members Only) - JGB
1998 Live With His Funky Friends - Merl Saunders
2000 Stolen Roses - David Grisman Quintet
2000 Struggling Man - Merl Saunders
2000 Search For Intelligent Life - Dose Hermanos

"Dark Star" was included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, on their list of the 500 most influential songs in rock and rollit was placed there by Jim Henke, chief curator of the R&R Hall of Fame.

Dark Star is the prototypical Grateful Dead song, providing the band with a vehicle for countless hours of improvisation. Hunter writes in Box of Rain that "Dark Star" was the first song he wrote in the company of the band other earlier lyrics were written and mailed to them.


Books, films, and songs using "Dark Star" in their titles:

Fiction and drama:
Moyra Caldecott . Child of the Dark Star. 1984.
Robert William Chambers . The Dark Star. 1929.
March Cost. The Dark Star. 1940.
Hugh Caswell Tremenheere Dowding . The Dark Star. 1951.
Allen Furst. Dark Star. 1991.
Dilys Gater . The Dark Star. 1981.
Pamela Hill . A Dark Star Passing. 1990.
Nerina Hilliard . Dark Star. 1968. (A Harlequin romance)
Florence Ring Kahn . Dark Star, a Drama in One Act. 1950.
Brigid Knight . Dark Star. 1965.
Hugh Lloyd . The Mystery at the Dark Star Ranch. 1934.
Anne Maybury . Dark Star. 1977.
Lorna Moon . Dark Star. 1929.
Marcia Muller . Dark Star. 1989.
Robert Silverberg . To the Dark Star. Short story,

Biographies: (this seems to be a popular subtitle for biographies):
Ellis Amburn . Dark Star: the Roy Orbison Story. 1990.
Robin Bates . The Dinosaurs and the Dark Star. 1986.
Fountain, Leatrice. Dark Star. (A biography of the actor John Gilbert.) 1985.
Dylan Jones . Jim Morrison, Dark Star. 1992.

Ronnie Dugger, . Dark Star: Hiroshima Reconsidered in the Life of Claude Eatherly. 1967.
Fiona MacLeod, . The Dominion of Dreams: Under the Dark Star. 1910.
Robert Wolfe . Dark Star. 1984.

Dark Star. 1974. (A sci fi feature film).
Nancy Holt . Art in the Public Eye: the Making of Dark Star Park. 1988.

Mike Oldfield . Dark Star. Track on Tubular Bells 2. 1992.
Steven Stills . Dark Star."Track on CSN.


The list of media with Dark Star in the title and the list of artists who have covered Dark Star was taken from David Dodd's Annotated Grateful Dead lyrics web site:
althorrat says that Dark Star is also (1) the name of a Marvel comics character (a Soviet agent who can fly and project force fields), and an game for the old ZX Spectrum - a vector-based spaceflight simulator.

Dark Star
(1973) Rated: G
Directed by: John Carpenter
Written by: John Carpenter and Dan O'Bannon
Starring: Brian Narelle, Cal Kuniholm, Dre Pahich, and Dan O'Bannon

Welcome aboard the Dark Star, a ship sent into deep space on a seemingly endless mission to destroy unstable planets. The ship itself is falling apart as are the crew as they deal with such nonsense as a runaway alien and a "smart" bomb that thinks it should explode when it shouldn't.

John Carpenter's goofy sci-fi debut is a charming and unusual experience that presents a comical look at the future of mankind. John Carpenter co-wrote the story with Dan O'Bannon, who would go on to write the classic Alien. Dark Star is a precursor to Alien in many ways; both films demystify the glorious and adventurous aspects of space travel in favor of the desolate, rotting agony of everyday life in space. In these films, the protagonists are not brave explorers of the vast expanses of space; they are just normal people with a job for a huge corporation whose only concern is money.

Despite its low budget origins, the movie has become a cult classic and is frequently viewed between the hours of 2:00 and 4:00 AM. This isn't a brilliant social commentary, but it manages to pull a few strings that make it an enjoyable experience. The first hour or so of the film wanders around without any discernable point and though there are a few glimpses of Carpenter's future ability to create suspense, there really isn't much going on. That is a bit misleading, however, because the film is not boring or uninteresting. For example, at one point the ships acting commander, Doolittle, reports back to earth that: "Storage Area Nine self destructed last week and destroyed the ship's entire supply of toilet paper." The "smart" bombs and the ship's computer have a bubbly personality that is quite unnerving (a clever jab at HAL 9000 from 2001). Absurd things like this are the strength of this movie. (I also enjoyed the scene where the computer informs Pinback that he has to feed the alien, which comes in the form of a beach ball, because at one time, he apparently thought the ship could use a cute mascot!)

The ending of the film in which the crew attempts to talk a malfunctioning "smart" bomb out of exploding while stuck on the ship was the best part of the film (see "Conversation with Bomb #20" below). This scene somehow managed to be humorous, philosophical and suspenseful. This is yet another example of the absurd in this movie. However, once the film ended, I felt just like I did while I was watching most of the film: indifferent. The funny thing is, I think that was what Carpenter and O'Bannon were going for. Not terribly moving, but still enjoyable.

In 1974 Alan Dean Foster wrote the novelization of Dark Star. Last word in the book: "Wipeout" - refering to the ending of the film (which is also portrayed on the cover of the movie) in which one of the crew "surfs" a wave of fire with a hunk of metal...

A Socratic Dialogue with Bomb #20
In the aformentioned scene about the crew talking the "smart" bomb out of exploding, some philosophical concepts are touched on. To expand a bit on this, I will include the entire conversation, which takes place in the form of a Socratic dialogue between the ship's commander, Doolittle, and Bomb #20, here (Spoilers ahead!):

Doolittle: Hello, Bomb? Are you with me?
Bomb #20: Of course.
Doolittle: Are you willing to entertain a few concepts?
Bomb #20: I am always receptive to suggestions.
Doolittle: Fine. Think about this then. How do you know you exist?
Bomb #20: Well, of course I exist.
Doolittle: But how do you know you exist?
Bomb #20: It is intuitively obvious.
Doolittle: Intuition is no proof. What concrete evidence do you have that you exist?
Bomb #20: Hmmmm.....well.....I think, therefore I am.
Doolittle: That's good. That's very good. But how do you know that anything else exists?
Bomb #20: My sensory apparatus reveals it to me. This is fun!
Doolittle: Now, listen, listen. Here's the big question. How do you know that the evidence your sensory apparatus reveals to you is correct? What I'm getting at is this. The only experience that is directly available to you is your sensory data. This sensory data is merely a stream of electrical impulses that stimulate your computing center.
Bomb #20: In other words, all that I really know about the outside world is relayed to me through my electrical connections.
Doolittle: Exactly!
Bomb #20: Why...that would mean that...I really don't know what the outside universe is really like at all for certain.
Doolittle: That's it! That's it!
Bomb #20: Intriguing. I wish I had more time to discuss this matter.
Doolittle: Why don't you have more time?
Bomb #20: Because I must detonate in 75 seconds.
Doolittle: Wait! Wait! Now, bomb, consider this next question very carefully. What is your one purpose in life?
Bomb #20: To explode, of course.
Doolittle: And you can only do it once, right?
Bomb #20: That is correct.
Doolittle: And you wouldn't want to explode on the basis of false data, would you?
Bomb #20: Of course not.
Doolittle: Well then, you've already admitted that you have no real proof of the existence of the outside universe.
Bomb #20: Yes...well...
Doolittle: You have no absolute proof that Sergeant Pinback ordered you to detonate.
Bomb #20: I recall distinctly the detonation order. My memory is good on matters like these.
Doolittle: Of course you remember it, but all you remember is merely a series of sensory impulses which you now realize have no real, definite connection with outside reality.
Bomb #20: True. But since this is so, I have no real proof that you're telling me all this.
Doolittle: That's all beside the point. I mean, the concept is valid no matter where it originates.
Bomb #20: Hmmmm....
Doolittle: So, if you detonate...
Bomb #20: In nine seconds....
Doolittle: ...you could be doing so on the basis of false data.
Bomb #20: I have no proof it was false data.
Doolittle: You have no proof it was correct data!
Bomb #20: I must think on this further.

At this point Bomb #20 returns to the bomb bay, apparently confused, and the crisis seems to have been averted. Then, when Seargant Pinback starts the disarming process, we find out that Bomb #20 wasn't so confused after all:

Pinback: All right, bomb. Prepare to receive new orders.
Bomb #20: You are false data.
Pinback: Hmmm?
Bomb #20: Therefore I shall ignore you.
Pinback: Hello...bomb?
Bomb #20: False data can act only as a distraction. Therefore, I shall refuse to perceive.
Pinback: Hey, bomb?!
Bomb #20: The only thing that exists is myself.
Pinback: Snap out of it, bomb.
Bomb #20: In the beginning there was darkness. And the darkness was without form and void.
Pinback: Umm. What the hell is he talking about? Bomb?
Bomb #20: And in addition to the darkness there was also me. And I moved upon the face of the darkness and I saw that I was alone.
Pinback: Hey.....bomb?
Bomb #20: Let There Be Light. He detonates

So Bomb #20 wasn't confused after all... or was he? In fact, the reasoning in that last exchange represents the classic overcorrection (and an irrational leap of logic) to Doolittle's premise of phenomonology. Bomb #20 falsely concludes that since sensory data is inherantly ambigious, it is all false, which is not necissarily true. As you might have noticed from its last few sentences, Bomb #20 has become its own God!

Just for the hell of it, here are a couple of other funny quotes from the film:

Mission Control: "Sorry to hear about the radiation leak on the ship and real sorry to hear about the death of Commander Powell."

Ship's Computer: "Sorry to interrupt your recreation fellows, but it is time for Sergeant Pinback to feed the alien."

Bomb #20: "Detonation will occur at the programmed time."
Pinback: "Wouldn't you consider another course of action, for example: just waiting around a while so we can disarm you?" Bomb #20: "No."

If you liked this movie, you may also want to check out:
2001: A Space Odyssey
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Sources: The movie itself, IMDB, and this page for quoting and analyzing the conversation with bomb #20: http://www.english.uiuc.edu/cybercinema/bomb20.htm. The review is slightly modified from a page on my website, found here http://www.kaedrin.com/fun/movies/ds.html

Also called "Dugradigdo". The Dark Lord of the world where Volfied is the Dragon God in the Slayers multiverse; by this token, he is a counterpart of Ruby Eye Shabranigdo and more or less one level down on the hierarchy from the Lord of Nightmares. By the time he makes it into Ceipheid's world, Dark Star takes on the form of a large thing with many legs and a long head. Since he is one of the great Dark Lords, Dark Star has some power over chaos, which is essentially nihility in the Slayers world.

There are five "weapons" associated with Dark Star:

  • Gorun Nova (the Sword of Light)
  • Ragdo Mezegis (a lance or spear)
  • Nezzard
  • Bodigar (an axe)
  • Galvayra (a bow)

Gorun Nova and Ragdo Mezegis were used to open the interworld portal that summoned Dark Star; Nezzard and Bodigar were used to bind Dark Star's power. Galvayra was used to smash Dark Star. This is how it works, in theory. Actual events were somewhat different.

The anime Lost Universe is also an interpretation of events in the Dark Star world.

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