Wharf Rat
Lyrics: Robert Hunter
Music: Jerry Garcia
Old man down
Way down, down by the docks of the city
Blind and dirty
Asked me for a dime, a dime for a cup of coffee
I got no dime, but I got some time to hear his story

My name is August West
And I love my Pearly Baker best, more than my wine
More than my wine
More than my maker, though he's no friend of mine

Everyone said
I'd come to no good, I knew I would Pearly, believe them
Half of my life
Spent doing time for some other fucker's crime
The other half found me
Stumbling around, drunk on burgundy wine

But I'll get back on my feet someday
The good lord willing, if he says I may
I know that the life I'm living's no good
I'll get a new start, live the life I should
I'll get up and fly away
I'll get up and fly away

Pearly's been true
True to me, true to my dying day, he said
I said to him
I said to him, I'm sure she's been
I said to him, I'm sure she's been true to you

I got up and wandered
Wandered downtown, nowhere to go but just to hang around
I've got a girl
Named Bonny Lee, I know that girl's been true to me
I know she's been, I'm sure she's been true to me

First performance: February 18, 1971, at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, NY.

Grateful Dead Recordings
26 Apr 1971 Grateful Dead (Skull & Roses)
28 Apr 1971 Ladies And Gentlemen ... The Grateful Dead
2 Dec 1973 Dick's Picks Vol 14
31 Dec 1987 Ticket To New Year's (video)
15 Mar 1990 Terrapin Station (Limited Edition)

Other Recordings
1991 Deadicated and Sometimes--Live (Midnight Oil)
1996 Fire On the Mountain: Reggae Celebrates the Grateful Dead (Michael Rose)
1999 Swingin' To The Grateful Dead (Steve Marsh et al)

A Wharf Rat was also a person at a Dead show who didn't use drugs. They belonged to the Wharf Rats, a group that would meet at every Deadshow's setbreak and support each other in their non-use of drugs and alcohol. Imagine a Deadhead AA meeting. Their motto was "One show at a time." They used to put out a newsletter, and may still possibly be reached at:


----------------------------------------------------------- From the Dictionary of Americanisms:

2. Wharf rat,...(b)one who is frequently found on or near wharves, esp. a vagrant or petty criminal who haunts wharves...1836 Franklin Repository (Chambersburg, PA) 4 Oct 1/3 "I've an idea, my man, that you are one of the wharf rats; and, if so, the less lip you give me the better."

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