I Truly Understand

Song composer(s)


Grateful Dead Recordings

Not recorded by the Dead

Dead Related Recordings

Shady Grove : Jerry Garcia & David Grisman (1997)

Other Recordings

I Truly Understand
G Roark & Family (1928)
G. Roark (Library of Congress) (1938)
New Lost City Ramblers, Vol. 1 : New Lost City Ramblers (1958)
Folk Songs With The Seegers : Seeger Family (1965)
Strange Creek Singers : Strange Creek Singers (1972)
Going Down The Valley; Vocal & Instrumental Music From The South : (Shortbuckle Roark) Various Artists (1977)
Deadheads & Suckers : Roundtown Boys (1978)
Kentucky Country; Old Time Music From Kentucky : Various Artists (1983)
Early Years (1958-1962) : New Lost City Ramblers (1991)
Warring Cats : Bruce Molsky (1993)
Gambler's Lament : Various Artists (Shortbuckle Roark and his Family) (19??)

Performance History

Played by Garcia and Nelson at the College of San Mateo in San Mateo on November 10th 1962.

Played by Jerry and Sarah Garcia at the Tangent in Palo Alto in May 1963.

Not performed by the Grateful Dead. Occurs only on pre-Dead tapes featuring future members of the dead.


Here are the lyrics as performed by Garcia and Nelson on 11/10/62;

I wish to the lord I'd never been born,
Or died when I was young,
Before I'd seen your two brown eyes,
Or heard your flattering tongue, my love,
Or heard your flattering tongue.

I truly understand you love another man,
And your heart shall no longer be mine,
I truly understand you love another man,
And your heart shall no longer be mine.

Oh who's going to show your pretty little foot,
And who's going to glove your hand,
And who's going to be your own true love,
When I'm in a foreign land, my love,
I'm in a foreign land.

Chorus ...

My momma's going to shoe my pretty little foot,
My pappa's going to glove my hand,
And you will be my own true love,
When you're in a foreign land, my love,
You're in a foreign land.

Chorus ...

I'll never listen to what another woman says,
Let her hair be black or brown,
Rather be on the top of some fill,
The rain come pouring down, my love,
Rain a-pouring down.

Chorus ...

The chorus of I Truly Understand is unique to the song. The melody of the verse is very similar to that of Old Joe Clark. The lyrics of the verses also occur in other traditional songs

The 'wish to the lord I'd never been born' text occurs in Look Up, Look Down That Lonesome Road, My Last Gold Dollar and other songs.

The 'shoe your pretty little foot' verse occurs in a number of songs including Who's Going To Shoe Your Pretty Little Foot and The Storms Are On The Ocean, but is thought to derive from a Scottish song The Lass Of Loch Royal. This song is collected in Herd (1776) as The Bonny Lass Of Loch Royal where the verse is given as;

O wha will shoe thy bonny feet,
O wha will glove thy ha,
O wha will lace thy middle-jimp,
With a lang, lang, whang.

More recent version of the song Who's Going To Shoe Your Pretty Little Foot can be found on the following;

Who's Going To Shoe Your Pretty Little Foot
McGee Brothers & Arthur Smith (192?)
To You with Love: American Folk Songs for Women : Herta Marshall (1957)
Songs Our Daddy Taught Us : Everely Brothers (1959)
Our Singing Heritage : Lee Charles (195?)
Folk Songs : Everly Brothers (1962)
When I Was A Young Girl : Barbara Dane (1962)
Presenting The Blue Sky Boys : The Blue Sky Boys (1965)
Carl & Harty With The Cumberland Ridge Runners (197?)
Comin' Round The Mountain : Fred McFalls & Ben Bryson (197?)
Wilma Lee Cooper : Wilma Lee Cooper (1981)
Been Riding with Old Mosby : Frank Bode (1986)
Reflections Of Love : Paul Adkins & The Borderline Band (1991)
Early Years (1958-1962) : New Lost City Ramblers (1991)
In The Pines : Todd Phillips (1995)

I Truly Understand sometimes occurs as I Truly Understand (That You Love Another Man).