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(1) Hunter's lyric book has "Wharf rat down" but Jerry never sang that.

(2) Jerry sometimes sang "... down by the docks of the river"

(3) Jerry sometimes missed out these two lines, for example in the version on "Ladies And Gentlemen ..." (28 April 1971). Thanks to Ed Abahoonie and Mike Scheier for pointing this out

(4) there are several recordings where it sounds as if Jerry sang "... some motherfucker's crime," though it's very hard to tell. (thanks to John Sarjeant for pointing this out)

(5) the sheet music wrongly has this as "Named Benny Lee ..."

Lyrics By
Robert Hunter
Music By
Jerry Garcia
Lyrics

Old man down (note 1)
Way down, down by the docks of the city (note 2)
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 (note 3)
More than my maker, though he's no friend of mine

Everyone said
I'd come to no good
I knew I would
Pearly, believed them
Half of my life
Spent doing time for some other fucker's crime (note 4)
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 (note 5)
I know she's been, I'm sure she's been true to me

Song

  • Wharf Rat
    Lyrics By:
    Music By:

    Old man down (note 1)
    Way down, down by the docks of the city (note 2)
    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 (note 3)
    More than my maker, though he's no friend of mine

    Everyone said
    I'd come to no good
    I knew I would
    Pearly, believed them
    Half of my life
    Spent doing time for some other fucker's crime (note 4)
    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 (note 5)
    I know she's been, I'm sure she's been true to me

    (1) Hunter's lyric book has "Wharf rat down" but Jerry never sang that.

    (2) Jerry sometimes sang "... down by the docks of the river"

    (3) Jerry sometimes missed out these two lines, for example in the version on "Ladies And Gentlemen ..." (28 April 1971). Thanks to Ed Abahoonie and Mike Scheier for pointing this out

    (4) there are several recordings where it sounds as if Jerry sang "... some motherfucker's crime," though it's very hard to tell. (thanks to John Sarjeant for pointing this out)

    (5) the sheet music wrongly has this as "Named Benny Lee ..."