Hell In A Bucket Annotated Bibliography

Contains 260 pages of music, 48 songs: The Golden Road, Cream Puff War, The Other One, Cryptical Envelopment, New Potato Caboose, Born Cross-Eyed, Alligator, St. Stephen, Mountains of the Moon, China Cat Sunflower, Cosmic Charlie, Dark Star, Uncle John's Band, Casey Jones, Box of Rain, Friend of the Devil, Sugar Magnolia, Truckin', Operator, Wharf Rat, Bertha, Playing in the Band, Deal, Sugaree, One More Saturday Night, Cassidy, He's Gone, Jack Straw, Brown-Eyed Woman, Ramble on Rose, Tennessee Jed, Row Jimmy, Stella Blue, Eyes of the World, Scarlet Begonias, Ship of Fools, U.S. Blues, The Music Never Stopped, Franklin's Tower, It Must Have Been the Roses, Estimated Prophet, Passenger, Sunrise, Terrapin Station Part 1, Lady with a Fan, Terrapin Station, At a Siding, Shakedown Street, Fire on the Mountain, France and If I Had the World to Give. Plus discography.

"You analyze me, tend to despise me..."

The Annotated "Hell In a Bucket"

An installment in The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics.
By David Dodd
Library, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
"Hell In a Bucket"
Words by John Perry Barlow; music by Bob Weir
Copyright Ice Nine Publishing; used by permission.
Well, I was drinking last night with a biker
And I showed him a picture of you
I said, "Pal, get to know her. You'll like her."
Seemed like the least I could do...

'Cause when he's driving his chopper
Up and down your carpeted halls,
You will think me by contrast quite proper.
Never mind how I stumble and fall.
Never mind how I stumble and fall.

[Chorus:]
You imagine me sipping champagne from your boot
For a taste of your elegant pride
I may be going to hell in a bucket, babe,
But at least I'm enjoying the ride.
At least I'm enjoying the ride.
At least I'm enjoying the ride.

Now miss sweet little soft-core pretender,
Somehow baby got hard as it gets.
With her black leather chrome spiked suspenders,
Her chair and her whip and her pets.

Well we know you're the reincarnation
Of the ravenous Catherine the Great.
And we know how you love your ovations
For the Z-rated scenes you create.
The Z-rated scenes you create.

[Bridge:]
You analyze me, pretend to despise me,
You laugh when I stumble and fall.
There may come a day I will dance on your grave
If unable to dance, I will crawl across it
Unable to dance, I'll still crawl.

You must really consider the circus
'Cause it just might be your kind of zoo
I can't think of a place that's more perfect
For a person as perfect as you.

And it's not like I'm leaving you lonely
'Cause I wouldn't know where to begin
But I know that you'll think of me only
When the snakes come marching in
When the snakes come marching in

"Hell In a Bucket"

Written in Cora, Wyoming, August-December, 1982

Musical details:

Recorded on

First performance: May 13, 1983, at the Greek Theatre, U.C. Berkeley. The song appeared in the first set, following "West L.A. Fadeaway", and preceding "Loser".It remained in the repertoire thereafter.

Here's an interesting piece forwarded by a reader:

Subject: Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics : Hell in a Bucket : Variant Lyrics!
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 1997 10:31:07 -0700 (PDT)
From: David Schwarm

hell in a bucket

Conjures up the line from "St. Stephen":
"Bucket hanging clear to hell..."

The phrase in American colloquial speech is "going to hell in a handbasket."


at least I'm enjoying the ride

One of my favorite "mis-hearings" of a Grateful Dead lyrics came when Alice Kahn, the Bay Area writer, wrote in a review in the East Bay Express that this song was "Police on a Joy Ride."

Catherine the Great

A reference to the Empress of Russia, 1762-1796, who was an intellectual and, as hinted at in the song, a famous libertine.

Hunter also uses her in one of his songs, "Do Deny (Lying Man)":

"I who ate with Kate the Great
On Chinese silver plate..."


When the snakes come marching in

A reference to the spiritual, "When the Saints Go Marching In."
First posted: January 30, 1996
Last revised: May 1, 1997

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