The Grateful Dead: Casey Jones Meaning
Song Released: 1970
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Casey Jones Lyrics
Casey Jones YOU BETTER, watch your speed.
Trouble ahead, trouble behind,
And you know that notion just crossed my mind.
This old engine makes it on time,
Leaves Central Station 'bout a quarter to...
anonymous Aug 23rd, 8:53am report
" lady in Red" is a hooker. " Trouble ahead" is V.D. or the complications that come from explaining your behavior and the complications that follow to your loved one.
anonymous Feb 5th, 2019 2:34am report
In 1803, A Truck Driver named Mac Sykes noticed a small condom by the side of the road. It was filled with male and female semen from a panderer, who had been stabbed in the back and who had sucked the dick of his girlfriend's lover. Sykes, thinking the exchange must be worth something, planted it. Three weeks later, the blood formed a kidney stone and up grew cocaine for free. Wind swept the plant onto the first railway tracks, which planted 2377 Hectares of pure coca which people used for free to jack their snakes for 193 years.
anonymous Dec 9th, 2013 12:07am report
In order to truly understand this song you have to have been under the influence. The fact that the name Jones is used has another meaning. When you are high on that drug and you run out, you always want more. One of the terms used is that you are jonesing for more. That is why one is warned of the danger.
anonymous Nov 16th, 2013 11:16pm report
To say the song is about Lesh's abuse w/ cocaine is so false and so far from the truth. Please cite your sources. The entire band, all 6 or 7 members depending on the era, had issues w/ cocaine beginning around the mid 70's. It was everywhere in the Grateful Dead scene and nobody in the band or the crew was immune to it. They all had varying degrees of indulgences in all sorts of drugs. Phil Lesh did not write the song musically or lyrically. It was written by Garcia and the lyrics were penned by Robert Hunter. It was written in the summer of 1969 based on a folk song called "The ballad of Casey Jones". Jerry Garcia said on many occasions that the song was written as an anti-drug song which never took on w/ anyone. It was written before cocaine had come into the Grateful Dead's world. The song is based on an actual person named Casey Jones who crashed a train by trying to not be late for a scheduled stop. The lyrics "trouble ahead, trouble behind" therefor had the double meaning referencing the impending crash and driving a train while "high on cocaine". Please do not just make things up without any facts or evidence to base your claims on.
rickzilla007 Mar 11th, 2012 3:48am report
i am just guessing here, but i always thought is was about life on the road with a band, too much drugs and cheap sex. i think it is about doing groupies that you know you shouldn't while you got a wife/girlfriend back home, but you do it anyway because of impaired judgement and feelings of invincibility brought on by the coke. before you deadheads splutter your organic coffee all over the computer screen, think about it. train has been used as a metaphor for, um, a man's junk, for ages.
so look at it from that perspective, ageing rock star thinking i am getting too old for this s##t! here i am again, couldn't say no to the lady in red.
this 'old' engine, makes it on time? (i know jerry was young then compared to most of you readers, but life on the road does leave you feeling ancient even in your mid twenties!) quarter to ten it's rolling again? (with the coke yer engine will just not stay down!) watch your speed (jackrabbit coke fuelled sex)trouble ahead, lady in red? (the groupie) trouble behind (the wife/gf). notion just crossed my mind (sudden realisation while in the act, oh no, i f**ked up again!) trouble with you is the trouble with me (commiserating with bandmates, why can't i stop when i know i should) and finally, come round the bend, you know it's the end, fireman screams and the 'engine' just gleams???? c'mon people, if this ain't a metaphor for climaxing i don't know what is!!!
ok, so maybe i have a twisted mind, but it makes me chuckle to think of it this way. it suits my experiences and resonates with me so even if that was not the original intent i always think of it this way. and here's the thing, now that you have read this you will not be able to listen to the song again without seeing the image of jerry flailing away with some groupie thinking 'damn, i am too old for this....hmmmm, good idea for a song!'
peace and love and a bit of laughter i hope. no offence intended!
anonymous Jun 7th, 2011 6:48am report
Jerry also had a real bad coke problem he stopped the junk a number of times but never stopped the coke and thats why his heart gave out we miss jerry " the song is a anti drug song"
anonymous Jun 25th, 2010 6:18am report
Watch your speed is also referring to casey jones the conductor who took pride in never being late arriving to a destination as a conductor...rumor has it he was running late the day the train wreck that took his life occured and therfore he was racing to make it on time...shoulda watched your speed casey
reggaewoman Jun 2nd, 2010 6:13pm report
The song is the Grateful Dead's version of a song by Wallace Saunders, that was inspired by a train wreck that occurred on April 30, 1900. "Casey" Jones was an engineer on the Illinois Central Line; he was born John Luther Jones. The nickname Casey came from Cayce, Kentucky- a town near his birthplace, and he was known first for his signature way of blowing the train's whistle and second for the infamous crash that killed him.
anonymous Jan 28th, 2010 1:41pm report
This song is simply about living a reckless lifestyle.It's not known to be about anyone in particular or anyones cocaine habbit.It's a metaphor.
anonymous Jul 16th, 2009 7:18am report
This song was written about Phil Lesh's very bad cocaine abuse. Though many know about Jerry's heroin abuse, less know of bassist Phil Lesh's cocaine abuse. Many metaphors for cocaine and quitting use in this song. "Lady in red" is a metaphor for stopping, like a red light. "driving that train" I believe has to due with your mind not being able to stop when high on cocaine. "Watch your speed" has to do with over dosing due to getting too high..hence "watch your speed". "trouble ahead, trouble behind" refers to the detriment the drug has on your life. Basically stating that if you look back or forward you will see the destruction it has cause..."just crossed my mind" is Phil just now realizing this destruction that has occurred from his unrealized abuse.
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