Songs based directly or indirectly on folk songs.
Lady With A Fan
This portion of Terrapin Station is based on a traditional folk song called Lady Of Carslile. The Hunter re-write, while a new version, follows the original story quite closely. The lady, in order to decide between a soldier and a sailor, throws her fan into the lion's den. The one who retrieves her fan wins her as his prize. In traditional versions the ending sometimes varies, even to the point where the victor scorns the woman. Hunter leaves it to us to decide what we think of the outcome.
This Hunter song (actually entitled Delia DeLyon and Staggerlee) is a continuation of a traditional song called Stack O'Lee or Stagolee (there are many different spellings of the name). The traditional songs describe Staggerlee as a very bad man who shoots Billy Lyons (or Billy DeLyons) because he loses his Stetson hat to Billy in a crap game. The Hunter song shows Delia DeLyon (presumably Billy's wife) getting her revenge on Staggerlee.
The Hunter song uses the character of Casey Jones but little else from the traditional versions. Hunter uses Casey Jones and his impending fate to send a warning signal about drug use and other excesses, although this has not stopped the song from being banned from radio as a "drug" song. The Dead have played both the traditional version and the Hunter penned original.
Dupree's Diamond Blues
This song is based on a folk song called Betty and Dupree that was based on an actual jewelry store robbery in Atlanta in the 1920s. A security guard (or a policeman) is killed in the robbery attempt and Dupree is given the death sentence. Again the Dead have played both the traditional version and the Hunter original.
Some Other Folk References
Inspired by an old time country song entitled Don't Let Your Deal Go Down recorded in the 1920s by the likes of Fiddlin' John Carson and Charlie Poole and The North Carolina Ramblers. Later recorded by Flatt & Scruggs, New Lost City Ramblers and Doc Watson.
Another in a long line of boastful songs with this title. Recorded by Mississippi John Hurt, Reverend Gary Davis and a host of others.
I have a theory, as yet unproven, that the Hunter version was inspired by Shake Sugaree and Freight Train, both of which were written by Elizabeth Cotten. Shake Sugaree providing the primary noun and verb for the chorus and Freight Train the "Don't Tell..." concept. Then again I could be all wet.
Fire On The Mountain
Popular old time fiddle instrumental, might have been the inspiration for the title.
This one might be a stretch, but I've always felt that the attempt here was to write a song that sounded like an old time country song that you might hear on an old scratchy 78 from the 1920s. Legend has it that a measure of success was achieved when, upon hearing the Dead perform this song, someone wondered what the old fellow who wrote it would think about these long haired hippies singing it. You decide.