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Song by Jerry Garcia
from the album Garcia
Released January 1972
Recorded 1971
Genre Folk rock
Length 5:54
Label Warner Bros. Records
Composer(s) Jerry Garcia
Lyricist(s) Robert Hunter
Producer(s) Bob Matthews
Betty Cantor
Bill Kreutzmann
Garcia track listing
"Bird Song"

"Sugaree" is a song written by long-time Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter and composed by guitarist Jerry Garcia.[1] It was written for Jerry Garcia's first solo album Garcia, which was released in January 1972. As with the songs on the rest of the album, Garcia plays every instrument himself (except drums, played by Bill Kreutzmann), including acoustic guitar, bass guitar, and an electric guitar played through a Leslie speaker.

Elizabeth Cotten, a North Carolina folksinger, wrote and recorded a song called "Shake Sugaree" in 1966.[2] The chorus of Cotten's song is "Oh lordie me/Didn't I shake sugaree?" The song influenced Hunter in the composition of "Sugaree."[3] Mary Lou Lord recorded a cover of the Elizabeth Cotten song on her 1998 breakthrough Got No Shadow.[4]

The song was first performed live on July 31, 1971, at the Yale Bowl at Yale University, as was the song "Mr. Charlie".[1] The song appears on numerous other recordings, including Dick's Picks Volume 3 and One From the Vault.[1]

Rusty York recorded a Marty Robbins-penned song in 1959 (Chess 1730) also called, "Sugaree."[5]

Fred Neil released a song in 1966 on his eponymous album called "I've Got a Secret (Didn't We Shake Sugaree)."

Nick Barker covered this song on his album Black Water Blues released in 2009.

Graham Parker covered the track on his 2004 album, Your Country.[6]

Jackie Greene recorded a cover for his 2009 release The Grateful EP.

On the 2016 charity album Day of the Dead, "Sugaree" was covered by Jenny Lewis and the band Phosphorescent.[7]

References in popular culture[edit]

The song is mentioned in Stephen King's 1981 novel Cujo. Some have alleged[who?] that King made a mistake in attributing this song to the Grateful Dead, believing that Elizabeth Cotten wrote the original version of the song. However, her song "Shake Sugaree" bears very little resemblance to "Sugaree" by the Grateful Dead.

Cotten's 1966 song "Shake Sugaree" does anachronistically appear in the 2013 video game BioShock Infinite,[8] set in 1912, when Booker and Elizabeth pass through Shantytown.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Dodd, David. "The Annotated "Sugaree"". The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics. Retrieved 2007-03-11. 
  2. ^ "Shake Sugaree - Elizabeth Cotten | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. 2004-09-21. Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
  3. ^ Trager, Oliver (1997) New York: Touchstone. The American Book of the Dead. Page 292.
  4. ^ "Got No Shadow - Mary Lou Lord | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-11-26. 
  5. ^ "Rusty York | Songs". AllMusic. 1935-05-24. Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
  6. ^ "Your County". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
  7. ^ "Day of the Dead". Day of the Dead. Retrieved 2016-11-26. 
  8. ^ "BioShock Infinite Soundtrack Music Credits". Retrieved October 30, 2016. 

External links[edit]