#40105  by Mr.Charlie
 Mon Mar 17, 2008 7:56 pm
It's about lost love, "rider" is a term often used in blues/old country songs which references a girl you're with. The whole "headlight on a north bound train" is kind of a lamenting lyric to me, metaphorical in the sense that you wish you could clearly see your way through the hard time of losing your girl, through the inevitable trip north through the cool colorado rain, which is basically breaking up with your rider. Just my two cents.

 #40106  by st stephen
 Tue Mar 18, 2008 3:57 am
lost love...i think its pretty obvious

 #40109  by BuddhaG
 Tue Mar 18, 2008 7:55 am
My interpretation of any given song will change as my life goes through changes itself. It seems that a song will transform in my mind over a period of months or years. Sometimes it oscillates between meanings, becoming pertinent in the sense of what I need at this time in my life.

I hadn't paid that much attention to this song in the past years... just saw it as a nice folky blues about love and moving on. Perhaps being a bad place and getting out of that bad place in your head. The way Jerry sang the Cool Colorado Rain part always gave some great imagery of a beam of light cutting through the confusion (a la Dark Star).

On a personal note, I was listening to a China>Rider one night when hanging out with the girl I've been with recently. We were just chillin, enjoying each others company, and when the band started the first lyrics to the song, we both just looked at each other and understood there was a fundamental sadness in the reality of our situation. She is leaving to Hawaii in a month and though I plan on seeing her again, the song was more true to me than it ever had been before.

I hope next March's Winds will blow me to Hawaii.

 #40113  by Pete B.
 Tue Mar 18, 2008 9:16 am
My rider left upon the midnight flyer...
Singin' like a summer breeze.

:cool:
 #147953  by Charlie
 Sun Jul 19, 2015 8:50 pm
The song "I Know You Rider" was originally recorded back in the thirties under the name "Women's Blues" by Lucille Bogan although apparently many of the lyrics were different. According to Wiki musicologists Alan and John Lomax heard it sung by an 18 year old girl in Prison, added some verses and gave it the title "Women's Blues.

The first verse is pretty obvious - you're going to miss my loving when I go.

A number of the verses are traditional and used in a few other songs as well as this one. For example the "I lay down last Night" verse is sung by Taj Mahal in his version of "Good Morning Miss Brown" from the Natural Blues album. "The sun will shine in my back door" verse is also sung by Taj on his version of Diving Duck Blues" from his first album (I think). Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee also had a song where this line appeared as the last line of each verse.

I would interpret the "I wish I was a headlight" verse as possibly an African American woman (or man) in the South wanting to migrate north to Chicago or Detroit or somewhere they could obtain employment and possibly escape Jim Crow.
 #148001  by aiq
 Tue Jul 21, 2015 7:53 am
I always took rider to be my easy rider, a good friend with benefits. This friend has done something to mess with singer's mind a bit.

Singer has rambling on his mind, and may soon have another rider.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

That said I don't want anyone telling me what the painting means so rock on.
 #153850  by hogwldfltr
 Fri Sep 09, 2016 4:39 pm
The song was heard sung by a black woman sentenced for murder while in prison. It was documented by the Lomaxes (John and Alan) in 1934 who identified more versus and older ones. It's about death and longing for freedom.

Re:

 #154075  by old man down
 Tue Sep 27, 2016 10:02 pm
strumminsix wrote:Rider = a woman who a man was sleeping with sans any ties.

The chorus basically says your gonna miss me but the verses basically say I'm gonna miss you.

Rollin in your arms = sex
This. ^^^^^^^^^^
And as sung by Garcia/Weir during the 60s — 70s, the imagery of a western cowboy's hard-life could be implied.

Image
 #162643  by XacJED
 Wed Sep 19, 2018 7:42 pm
No one will probably read this . But I thought I'd comment. Right or wrong - I always thought it was about a man who was planning to be a freight hopper, ditching his girl in Frisco and riding to Montana. He hasn't done it yet, because its all in the future tense, except the second verse where it bothering him. There's no mention of the destination but frisco Colorado had a train line that went to Montana and it reminded me of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Repair which took place in Montana.

He knew it would hurt her, (gonna miss me when I'm gone) and it bothered him (Lord, I could not take my rest) but he knew it would be for the best (The sun will shine in my back door some day - March winds will blow all my troubles away). He wishes he could just get it over with, and jump that freight train and get out in front of the troubles he feels, because jumping that train holds the cure for what ails him, (I wish I was a headlight on a north-bound train - I'd shine my light through the cool Colorado rain). No matter how hard it would be (I'd rather drink muddy water, sleep in a hollow log )its better than staying and being treated wrong (Than stay here in Frisco, be treated like a dog). But the reason the song is so melancholy is because we don't know if he ever got out, or if he stayed. The most fervent line in the song is the part "I wish I was a headlight on a north-bound train" that's always sung much more forcibly because it's what the protagonist wants.
tcsned liked this

Re:

 #162690  by gratefulredhead
 Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:51 am
CountryMile Cadillac wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2007 4:30 pm
Frisco is in Colorado
Actually I was born in San Pablo (on the bay across from San Fran) in 1967. My whole family, who are all NW US dwellers, always referred to San Francisco as "Frisco". It's the shorthand for the city that people of an older generation use.