Brown-Eyed Women BY Grateful Dead: Lyrics Meaning AND Interpretation

Brown-Eyed Women by Grateful Dead: Lyrics Meaning and Interpretation


The Grateful Dead is one of the most celebrated bands that has earned their cult following with their heart-felt songs and timeless jams. They not only write for the sake of writing but tell stories that are going to last a long time. Active since the 60s it is one of those bands that have withstood the test of time and are still going strong today.

Dead heads have followed this band for a very long time and still revere them for what they are doing. Recently John Mayer and an ace guitar player from the current generation have joined The Grateful Dead as a lead guitar player.

Brown Eyed Woman was supposed to be on the American Beauty record that was never released. It is a song written by Garcia and Hunter that was first performed in the year 1971 just before the release of their double album. Brown eyed woman lyrics meaning might seem something different to different people but the common theme of loss unites us all.

It was last played in 1995 but ever since John Mayer joined they have performed this song once again.


The song takes us through the Great Depression and shows us the imagery of a family living in those times. The hardships that they had to endure during that time. The story takes place in the BIgfoot County which is said to be located near the Hills.

Verse 1- What does it mean?


Gone are the days when the ox fall down

Take up the yoke and plow the fields around

Gone are the days when the ladies said “Please

Gentle Jack Jones, won’t you come to me”

In the First verse itself, we are given a simple introduction to the landscape and how the Economy is in bad conditions. The last line of the Verse also introduces us to the protagonist named Jack Jones.

He works his dues in the field and used to be popular amongst the ladies too, but these are things of the past now. He has a family that lives in a tumbledown shack and makes boot-legged whisky.

What does the Chorus mean?

Brown-eyed women and red grenadine

The bottle was dusty, but the liquor was clean

Sound of the thunder with the rain pourin’ down

And it looks like the old man’s gettin’ on”

The chorus shed light on the condition of the family and also the fact that there are 8 children to the couple. Jack is married to Delilah Jones of which there are two sets of twins. In an earlier version of a song there were 13 children mentioned in total but as the years went by the band stuck with 8.

Verse 2- What does it mean?

“Delilah Jones was the mother of twins

Two times over and the rest were sins

Raised eight boys, only I turned bad

Didn’t get the licking’s that the other ones had”

The family was getting by and Delilah raised the 8 boys and looked after them until she fell ill. This is a couple that can withstand everything together. Their bond is as strong as ever and when she dies in the snowstorm that collapsed their roof, Jack is heartbroken.

Verse 3- What does it mean?

1920 when he stepped to the bar

Drank to the dregs of the whiskey jar

1930 when the wall caved in

He made his way selling red-eyed gin


Now the lines that came in the start make an appearance once again and now we get to know why the Ox has fallen. The strong-willed hero is now bogged down by the death of his wife and seeks to fill the empty space in his heart. Brown eyed woman lyrics meaning makes us think about life and how one must endure everything to carry on.

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What does the bridge mean?


“Tumble down shack on Big Foot county

Snowed so hard that the roof caved in

Delilah Jones went to meet her God

And the old man never was the same again”

He never becomes the same and mourns the loss of his beloved wife. He started making whisky more often and used to sell it too. It is supposed to be good and burnt too while consuming. He took to bootlegging whisky to distance himself from the loss of his wife.

Anyone who has lost a loved one can relate to this and how a loss like that can shake a person to the core. The lyrics of common topics like these are what make The Grateful Dead a great band. The band members saw the effects of the world war on the economy itself and how things can go from bad to worse in a blink of an eye.

What does the chorus mean?

“Brown-eyed women and red grenadine

The bottle was dusty, but the liquor was clean

Sound of the thunder with the rain pourin’ down

And it looks like the old man’s gettin’ on”

We now have empathy for the character due to his loss and what he is going through. The loss of his wife lets us connect to him and Jack also becomes a much more immersible character than he was before.

The two depressions in the song are symbolic of how people can endure everything when they are together. But as his family fell apart we can sympathize with his struggles and how he went on to make great boot-legged whisky. Brown eyed woman lyrics meaning seems to take on a more philosophical form here.


The Grateful Dead make relatable songs that can be admired by all classes of people from a wide spectrum. Loss is a common phenomenon in most people’s lives and people can relate to it too. Brown eyed woman lyrics meaning means something different to people at the different stages of life but the song does tie together a few human emotions that are experienced by everybody.

A lot of The Grateful Dead songs have Jack as the protagonist but that is not always the case. There is also another Delilah in their catalog but she only appears once. Given the all-ages theme and the timeless message, with Brown-eyed Girl, they were able to craft the perfect song for a lot of occasions.

The song talks about dealing with loss and continuing to live life no matter what is why it is so relatable. Not only is it a great song it also inspires people to keep on living. With the fictitious Jack and Delilah, The Grateful Dead tell us that tough times are written in the lives of every person but the important thing is to keep on going through those.

Clinging to life and making the best of it even after the loss of someone takes a lot of courage but it is doable. The Grateful Dead have been writing songs about hope and despair but their overall message has been to keep on living. Jack learns to live without his wife and tends to his children. You can take inspiration from the protagonist and face your fears head-on.

If Jack can take on the challenges thrown by life, then you can also do it. Jack goes through the depression of both the economic and personal kind and finds solace by making moonshine. Living at any cost and scraping by even in terrible times is the message that the band is trying to convey to us.

They not only are an inspiration for many but are also some of the best musicians to write songs. They have been doing that for more than 50 years now and are not slowing down a bit. With the addition of John Mayer to the band, they are still touring and playing sold-out shows across the globe. Just like Jack, sometimes you just have to carry on living.

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