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Posted: 2010 07-13


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Furthur performs "Scarlet Begonias" at the All Good Music Festival in Masontown, WV July 9, 2010.

Phil Lesh - bass and vocals
Bob Weir - guitar and vocals
Jeff Chimenti - keyboards and vocals
Joe Russo - drums
John Kadlecik -guitar and vocals
Sunshine Becker -vocals
Jeff Pehrson - vocals

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Retrieved from Wikipedia:
Scarlet Begonias on Wikipedia
"Scarlet Begonias"
Song by the Grateful Dead from the album From the Mars Hotel
ReleasedJune 27, 1974
GenreRock, funk rock, psychedelic rock, reggae fusion
LabelGrateful Dead Records
Writer(s)Robert Hunter
Composer(s)Jerry Garcia
Producer(s)Grateful Dead
From the Mars Hotel track listing

"Scarlet Begonias" is a song by the Grateful Dead. The lyrics were written by Robert Hunter and the music by Jerry Garcia.[1] The live debut of "Scarlet Begonias" came on March 23, 1974 at the Cow Palace in Daly City, California.[1]

The song begins in Grosvenor Square in London and also references "Tea for Two" from No, No, Nanette by Irving Caesar and Vincent Youmans.

The third stanza uses gambling/loss imagery that occurs in many Grateful Dead songs.[2] The line "As I picked up my matches and was closing the door" uses the symbolism of playing poker with matchsticks to indicate a very low stakes gamble that was made for fun.

The line "Everybody's playing in the Heart of Gold Band", was used by Keith and Donna Godchaux to name their new group "Heart of Gold Band" when they left Grateful Dead in 1979.

The recording first appears on the 1974 release From the Mars Hotel. When "Fire on the Mountain" was written in 1977, "Scarlet Begonias" would often be paired with it when played live, resulting in what would be nicknamed "Scarlet > Fire".[3]


  • A version of the song appears on the Sublime album 40oz. to Freedom (1992), which samples James Brown's "Funky Drummer" prominently.[4]
  • Jimmy Buffett released a version of the song on his album License to Chill in 2004.[5]
  • A bluegrass version of the song appeared on the 2008 album Rex (Live at the Fillmore) by Keller Williams with Keith Moseley and Jeff Austin. Keller performs the song frequently as part of his solo concerts.[6]
  • After the Grateful Dead disbanded in 1995, it was (and still is) performed in concert by Dead spin-off bands Phil Lesh & Friends, Bob Weir & RatDog, Dead & Company, Rhythm Devils, BK3, Mickey Hart Band and Donna Jean Godchaux Band, as well as the Dead, and Furthur.[citation needed]
  • Phish played "Scarlet > Fire" at their very first show under the name Blackwood Convention at Harris-Millis Hall at the University of Vermont on December 2, 1983.
  • Thievery Corporation played a version in Chicago, IL, on July 2, 2015, as part of 'The Music Never Stopped' series, with Loulou Ghelichkhani on vocals.


  1. ^ a b Dodd, David. "The Annotated "Scarlet Begonias"". The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics. Retrieved 2007-02-03. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Dodd, David. "The Annotated "Fire on the Mountain"". The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics. Retrieved 2007-01-31. 
  4. ^ "Sublime – 40oz. to Freedom". Music reviews. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2007-02-03. 
  5. ^ Puterbaugh, Parke (2004). "Jimmy Buffett – License to Chill". Music reviews. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2007-02-03. 
  6. ^ Keller Williams album for REX charity,, May 7, 2008, Retrieved May 15, 2008.

External links

  •, the official homepage of the Grateful Dead.
  • Full lyrics with notations

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