What does Ship of Fools mean?

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The Grateful Dead: Ship of Fools Meaning


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Ship of Fools Lyrics

Went to see the captain, strangest I could find Laid my proposition down, laid it on the line I won't slave for beggar's pay, likewise gold and jewels But I would slave to learn the way to sink your ship of fools Ship of fools on a cruel...


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    Sep 2nd, 9:57pm report

    This song is about a child growing up under strict rule of his father. His father is stupid and knows nothing in his mind as a teenager, but by the time he actually matures(30 years) he realizes his father is far wiser than he ever thought, and now that he has realized this, his father is dead and cannot share any wonderment of life with him. It's a common story that we've all been though and have regretted as we've grown older.

    It starts off needing to get our of the house or from under his thumb. He'll take any job, any place to live because it's got to be better than home.

    His father, not a family man is alone and sad, takes to drinking(bottles once filled are now empty), and as much as he hates him he'll watch over the 'fool' until his day comes when he can live on his own, but will not help(or lend a hand) him drink.

    Father dies, he grows up, realized it's forever......
    It was later than I thought, when I first believed you
    Now I cannot share your laughter, ship of fools
    It was later than I thought when I first believed you
    Now I cannot share your laughter, ship of fools


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    Apr 9th, 2011 4:28pm report

    it is about the group mind how the family is in and the ones that dont get the group mind are out. They want so bad to be a part of something but they are not cool enough even with the ever inviting grateful dead.


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    Jan 28th, 2011 1:55pm report

    This is just an idea, as the term "ship of fools" came up in class when we were interpreting this photo, but also you can find a jerry bear looking creature peeking in between the woman and the peacock. It's just an idea, but y'all give your opinions on it


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    Sep 16th, 2010 9:29pm report

    I asked Jerry about this song once. He said it was a reflection on the end of the Acid Test era--Kesey being a 'strange' Captain. He also said "the human body does not have the ability to fully digest either peanuts or corn". This explains why when Jerry didn't believe what someone was saying he would softly mutter,:"peanuts and corn,man..."


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    Apr 5th, 2010 4:30am report

    more specifically, the song is about an American court room. the judge is the captain. American courts still operate under admiralty laws that boats used to operate under in open sea. the fools are all people participating in the antics of unconstitutional court rooms, when they could be true sovereign citizens.


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    Mar 7th, 2010 3:49am report

    the "Fools" are the Establishment. The Dead veiled their politics well but this is commentary on the politicians f'ing up the country. Funny, how some things never change...


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    Jul 16th, 2009 7:37am report

    Not sure exactly with this one. I have read it is about Jerry's heroin addiction. I have also read it is about the band's overall problems including drugs, drinking and women. Either way the "ship of fool's" is something negative that was not taken care of promptly.. likely addiction. "it was later than I thought when I first believed you.. now I cannot share your laughter ship of fools." Ship of fools most likely being the ignorance that goes with not wanting to believe you have a problem and everyone encouraging your problem; hence making them and you a fool. "I cannot share your laughter" meaning you can no longer participate in the "fools" activities and that it's no longer fun for you...goes with heroin addiction no longer being about having fun but continuing b/c of the withdrawals. "but I would slave the way to sing your ship of fools." I believe this means that he is looking desperately for a way to displace himself from the "fools". "saw your first ship sink and drown from rocking of the boat and all that could not sink or swim was just left there to float." Maybe referring to the "rocking of the boat" as doing too much and realizing it. "all that could not sink or swim just left there to float". Maybe referring to everything in his life that he didn't ruin hence "sink" and everything that he did not move forward in bc of his addiction "swim". "just left there to float" refers to the times when he didn't do nothing...probably his high and dope sick times. A statement like "just...to float" refers to lack of control and motivation to do anything...negative "sink" or positive "swim". When your high or going through withdrawal you feel like you are just floating through life with little control or ability to "steer" in one direction or the other. You are in a since giving the drug control "current" in your life.

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