From the archives: If I knew the way I would take you home.

I was twelve years old when I saw the movie Mask and heard the lyrics to “Ripple.” The song is played in the background as Sonny (Cher) finds her son Rocky (Eric Stoltz) dead in his bedroom after suffering from a disease that disfigured him and caused him much physical and emotional pain. I was in hysterics as I watched the scene unfold, yet as Ripple softly played, the lyrics stayed with me, like a lullaby comforting and peaceful. This was my first time hearing the Grateful Dead and it was the beginning of a musically and lyrical love affair with Hunter and Garcia. The song is simple, poetic and has a message that even as a young child I related to. As an adult I would go on to see twenty two Grateful Dead shows around the country before Jerry Garcia died Aug. 9 1995. This song is still able to evoke those emotions and it is rare that I do not cry or tear up a bit when I hear it. The last line of the song has always been my favorite, a reminder that we all get lost sometimes.

Grateful Dead – Ripple

Lyrics By: Robert Hunter
Music By: Jerry Garcia

If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung
Would you hear my voice come through the music?
Would you hold it near, as it were your own?

It’s a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken
Perhaps they’re better left unsung
I don’t know, don’t really care
Let there be songs to fill the air (note 1)

Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow

Reach out your hand if your cup be empty
If your cup is full may it be again
Let it be known there is a fountain
That was not made by the hands of man

There is a road, no simple highway
Between the dawn and the dark of night
And if you go, no one may follow
That path is for your steps alone

Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow

You who choose to lead must follow
But if you fall, you fall alone
If you should stand, then who’s to guide you?
If I knew the way, I would take you home

(1) on the version on Reckoning, Jerry Garcia says “That’s Otis” at this point, referring to Bob Weir’s dog who had wandered onstage

For another look at Ripple please go to Play on,

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22 thoughts on “From the archives: If I knew the way I would take you home.

  1. Никогда не забывай — твое оружие было сделано максимально дешево, и в нужный момент оно обязательно откажет (закон Мерфи).


  2. Здравствуйте! Прошу прощения, что пишу не совсем в тему. Я тоже использую Вордпресс для своего блога и у меня возник вопрос, как настроить новую тему. Поиск на официальном сайте ничего не дал, там только пользовательские настройки рассматривают, а мне нужно, видимо, шаблоны править. Не подскажете, где почитать?


  3. Over the years I’ve known good people who’re Deadheads, including several who were with the band from the start in San Fransisco. I’ve found I usually respect these people, but I’ve never quite “got” what it is they love so much about the band.

    This is beautiful. Mellow and heartwarming. Thanks for helping me “get” it while I was listening.


  4. Wow, you’re a Dead Head too! I love you more every day.

    And Mask hit home with me. The fact that bikers accepted me no matter how screwed-up I was had lots to do with why I became a gang member all those years ago.

    Mask made me cry.


  5. I have never heard that song before and that is something coming from me. I didn’t think there was a song out there that I haven’t heard before. I actually went to youtube to hear it and wow those lyrics (even though written on this blog) really are something coming through the song. I remember seeing mask but somehow the song had eluded me. Thanks for bringing attention to it for me. Nice post.


  6. Now I’m gonna have to rent Mask and watch it again.

    Isn’t the power of music amazing?

    There are so many tunes that carry more than just a smidgen of weight with me.

    Enjoyed Stumbling Upon your blog this morning. Keep up the great work.



  7. Wow Veronica, I cannot believe it. “Ripple” is my all time favorite Dead song. That is weird.

    I have been steadily listening to the Dead non-stop for the past 2 weeks. I downloaded over 35 shows from the Archive.Org site before the other greedy members and their lawyers exerted copyright claims on them. Jerry said the music was for the fans, once it left their instruments they no longer had any claim to it. Luckily I scored all of those shows before they took them down. I burnt them to CD and make really cool covers for them.


  8. @veronicaromm Thanks for the response, here and on my site. I really enjoy your writing. I’ll try to visit more often, remembering to bring tissues next time. 😉


  9. Well, I hope you’re happy! Every now and then, I StumbleUpon something that dampens my eye, even as it warms my heart. Your post touched me. My road in life has been less than straight, and often fraught with dangers. The theme of “home” has always been special. I was born in NYC, but I’m not sure where or to who. This lack of connection to (or even knowledge of) my roots has been the bane of my existence, tainting all my relationships.

    I loved the movie, “Mask”. The Dead will always be a symbol of peace and love. But I was never a huge fan. But I remember this song and the effect the last line always had on me.

    “If I knew the way I would take you home.”

    There are many sons that have express something like this. One of my favorites is “I’m With You” by Avril Lavigne. I won’t post the entire song here, but the first verse gives you the idea:

    “I’m standing on a bridge
    I’m waiting in the dark
    I thought that you’d be here by now
    Theres nothing but the rain
    No footsteps on the ground
    I’m listening but there’s no sound
    Isn’t anyone trying to find me?
    Won’t somebody come take me home?”

    I’ve cried out this plea to every person I’ve known (in one way or another).

    I’m standing on this bridge for 47 years.
    I’m waiting in the dark.
    I’m listening.

    Show me the way to go home.



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