Grateful Dead

When I Paint My Masterpiece

Lyrics By: Bob Dylan
Music By: Bob Dylan

Oh, the streets of Rome are filled with rubble
Ancient footprints are everywhere
Well you can almost think that you're seein' double
On a cold dark night on the Spanish Stairs
Got to hurry on back to my hotel room
Where I've got me a date with Botticelli's niece
She promised she'd be right there with me
When I paint my masterpiece

Oh, the hours I've spent inside the Coliseum
Dodging lions and wastin' time
Oh, those mighty kings of the jungle
I can hardly stand to see 'em
Well, it sure has been a long hard ride (note 1)
Train wheels runnin' through the back of my memory
When I ran on the hilltop following a pack of wild geese
Someday, life will be sweet like a rhapsody (note 2)
When I paint my masterpiece

Sailin' 'round the world in a dirty gondola (note 3)
Oh, to be back in the land of Coca-Cola

I left Rome and landed in Brussels
On a plane ride so bumpy that I almost cried
Clergymen in uniform and young girls pullin' muscles
Everyone was there to greet me when I stepped inside (note 4)
Newspapermen eating candy
Had to be held down by big police
Someday, everything is gonna be diff'rent
When I paint my masterpiece

Someday, everything is gonna be diff'rent
When I paint my masterpiece
When I paint my masterpiece

This became a first-set staple for the Grateful Dead after Bob Weir introduced it in 1987. He has also sung it with many of his solo bands - and Jerry Garcia sang it with some of his bands too.

(1) the original Dylan version is "... long hard climb"

(2) the original Dylan line is "Someday, everything is gonna be smooth like a rhapsody"

(3) these lines are in the Dylan original, but Weir mostly omitted them (but thanks to Chris Cahill and David Stone for pointing out that he did sing them at Buckeye in 1995, and at Cleveland and New York in 1994.)

(4) on the version on "Dozin' At The Knick", Weir simply repeats the line "It sure has been a long hard ride" here

When I Paint My Masterpiece