Terrapin Station

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Terrapin Station
A painting of two terrapins dancing and play tambourines outside of a train station
Studio album by Grateful Dead
Released July 27, 1977 (1977-07-27)
  • November 2, 1976
  • May 8, 1977
Length 35:38
Label Arista
Producer Keith Olsen
Grateful Dead chronology
Steal Your Face
Terrapin Station
What a Long Strange Trip It's Been
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2/5 stars [1]
Robert Christgau B[2]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars [3]

Terrapin Station is the ninth studio album by the Grateful Dead. Recorded at Sound City in Van Nuys, California, the album was originally released on July 27, 1977. It is the first Grateful Dead album on Arista Records after releasing other albums on its own Grateful Dead Records and their previous label, Warner Bros. According to Dennis McNally,[4] Jerry Garcia conceived the idea for the song "Terrapin Station Part One" while driving across the Richmond–San Rafael Bridge.

The album was released for the first time on CD in 1987 by Arista Records before being re-released in 2000 by BMG International. It was then remastered, expanded, and released as part of the Beyond Description (1973–1989) box set in October 2004 with studio outtakes and live songs. The remastered version was later released separately on CD on March 7, 2006 by Rhino Records.


The album incorporates a more symphonic sound bordering on progressive rock styles that were expressed earlier by progressive art rock groups like Yes and Genesis. This was considered by fans to be a major departure from the more jazz-blues and traditional folk styles used by the Grateful Dead earlier in their career, although these elements are still present here. The title track uses strings and a choir to evoke a tighter and more complex structure as opposed to their looser improvisational works. Horns are also employed extensively to "funk up" their sound. Reaction to the album was mixed as many fans thought that it was overproduced and not in keeping with the Grateful Dead's more unpolished free-form style, while others believe it to be their greatest musical achievement.

The song "Lady with a Fan" was co-written by Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia. Robert Hunter said of the song, "I wrote "Terrapin Part One" at a single sitting in an unfurnished house with a picture window overlooking San Francisco Bay during a flamboyant lightning storm. I typed the first thing that came into my mind at the top of the page, the title: Terrapin Station." [5]

"On the same day, driving to the city, Garcia was struck by a singular inspiration. He turned his car around and hurried home to set down some music that popped into his head, demanding immediate attention. When we met the next day, I showed him the words and he said, "I've got the music." They dovetailed perfectly and Terrapin edged into this dimension." [6]

The Grateful Dead played parts of "Terrapin Station Part 1", and the songs "Estimated Prophet" and "Samson and Delilah" in concert rotation until the end of their career, usually as part of the second set.

"Terrapin Station Part 1" was never performed live in full. Recordings of live performances listed "Terrapin Station" generally refer to the first three parts of the song that appeared on the studio album, and were usually 10-15 minutes in length. It was played live some 302 times starting on February 26, 1977 at the Swing Auditorium in San Bernardino, California. The most complete performance, which includes parts of the sections 'Terrapin Transit', 'At a Siding' (without lyrics), and 'Terrapin Flyer' was performed on March 18, 1977 at Winterland Arena in San Francisco. This version was only played live once, and is incorrectly labeled as "Alhambra" and part of "Drums" on circulating copies of the show and the Internet Archive. A performance that skips the "Lady with a Fan" section and begins with the 'Terrapin Station' section and continues with the 'Terrapin' section of "Terrapin Station Part 1" was performed on May 22, 1977 at The Sportatorium in Pembroke Pines, Florida. A recording of this is available on Dick's Picks Volume 3.

In the years since Jerry Garcia's death, bands featuring Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, including Ratdog, Phil and Friends, Furthur, and Dead & Company have performed the entire "Terrapin Station" suite.

Track listing[edit]

Side one
  1. "Estimated Prophet" (John Perry Barlow and Bob Weir) – 5:37 (lead singer: Bob Weir)
  2. "Dancin' in the Streets" (Marvin Gaye, Ivy Jo Hunter, and William "Mickey" Stevenson) – 3:16 (lead singers: The Grateful Dead)
  3. "Passenger" (Phil Lesh and Peter Monk) – 2:48 (lead singer: Bob Weir, Donna Godchaux)
  4. "Samson and Delilah" (Traditional) – 3:29 (lead singer: Bob Weir)
  5. "Sunrise" (Donna Godchaux) – 4:03 (lead singer: Donna Godchaux)
Side two
  1. "Terrapin Station Part 1" – 16:17 (lead singer: Jerry Garcia)
  • "Lady with a Fan" (Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter)
  • "Terrapin Station" (Garcia and Hunter)
  • "Terrapin" (Garcia and Hunter)
  • "Terrapin Transit" (Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann)
  • "At a Siding" (Hart and Hunter)
  • "Terrapin Flyer" (Hart and Kreutzmann)
  • "Refrain" (Garcia and Hunter)
2004 reissue bonus tracks
  1. "Peggy-O" (traditional) – 4:41
  2. "The Ascent" – 1:59
  3. "Catfish John" (Bob McDill and Allen Reynolds) – 4:43
  4. "Equinox" (Lesh) – 5:15
  5. "Fire on the Mountain" (Hart and Hunter) – 6:26
  6. "Dancin' in the Streets" (Live at Barton Hall Cornell University, Ithaca, NY May 8, 1977) (Gaye, Hunter, and Stevenson) – 16:17

Initial releases did not break down "Terrapin Station Part 1" with time lengths of its sections, and anecdotal evidence was that listeners were often confused about where one section ended and another began. However, CD releases from the 1980s settled this by breaking the song down into individual tracks with the time lengths as:

  1. "Estimated Prophet" (John Perry Barlow and Bob Weir) – 5:37
  2. "Dancin' in the Streets" (Marvin Gaye, Ivy Jo Hunter, and William "Mickey" Stevenson) – 3:16
  3. "Passenger" (Phil Lesh and Peter Monk) – 2:48
  4. "Samson and Delilah" (Traditional) – 3:29
  5. "Sunrise" (Donna Godchaux) – 4:03
  6. "Terrapin Station Part 1"
  • "Lady with a Fan" (Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter) – 4:20
  • "Terrapin Station" (Garcia and Hunter) – 2:15
  • "Terrapin" (Garcia and Hunter) – 2:08
  • "Terrapin Transit" (Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann) – 0:35
  • "At a Siding" (Hart and Hunter) – 1:44
  • "Terrapin Flyer" (Hart and Kreutzmann) – 2:54
  • "Refrain" (Garcia and Hunter) – 2:21


Reissue production credits

  • James Austin – production
  • Hugh Brown – design, art direction
  • Reggie Collins – annotation
  • Dave Devore – engineering
  • Jimmy Edwards – associate production
  • Sheryl Farber – editorial supervision
  • Tom Flye – mixing
  • Cornelius "Snookey" Flowers – photography
  • David Gans – liner notes
  • Joe Gastwirt – mastering, production consultancy
  • Robert Gatley – mixing assistance
  • Robin Hurley – associate production
  • Eileen Law – research
  • David Lemieux – production
  • Mary Ann Mayer – art coordination
  • Richard McCaffrey – photography
  • Hale Milfgrim – associate production
  • Robert Minkin – photography
  • Scott Pascucci – associate production
  • Ed Perlstein – photography
  • Cameron Sears – executive production
  • Peter Simon – photography
  • Steve Vance – design, art direction

Charts and certifications[edit]


Year Chart Position
1977 Pop Albums 28[citation needed]

RIAA Certification

Certification Date
Gold[7] September 4, 1987


  1. ^ Terrapin Station at AllMusic
  2. ^ Grateful Dead album ratings at RobertChristgau.com
  3. ^ The Grateful Dead Album Guide, Rolling Stone
  4. ^ NPR Dennis McNally interview, NPR, August 8, 2002
  5. ^ Robert Hunter,"Box of Rain: Collected Lyrics of Robert Hunter." (New York: Viking Penguin, 1990), 310.
  6. ^ Robert Hunter,"Box of Rain: Collected Lyrics of Robert Hunter." (New York: Viking Penguin, 1990), 310.
  7. ^ "RIAA Gold & Platinum database – Terrapin Station". Retrieved February 28, 2009. 

External links[edit]