This song starts out with a catchy excerpt from the Grateful Dead’s original recording of “China Cat Sunflower”. Bruce’s repeating piano chorus seems to work quite well with the background excerpts. This clever combination sets the stage for the song and gets you (at least me) boppin’.
In the course of listening to the lyrics, we find that the narrator is in some sort of troublesome situation. This song reveals almost no specific details with regard to the actual situation, but such a description is not needed for a song of this spirit. Rather, this song seems to focus on the narrator’s (the “dour cat” I think is the narrator himself) appeal to a friend for some relief from his rough times. The narrator has high aspirations and dreams for the future, but the rough times that he is experiencing are holding him back. The narrator is trying to get the companion to realize that just a small amount of help could alleviate this situation which is currently out of his control.
Although this may sound like a serious discussion, the language used indicates that the narrator is at least taking his situation lightheartedly. The repeated phrase “I’m down, down with that” perhaps means that he can deal with the rough times, and that any help from the companion would be casually appreciated.
The bridge of the song is most likely a conversation between the 2 people: the companion is giving the narrator a few suggestions on how to alleviate the problems, and the narrator is indicating that he is just trying to get by. It is also during the bridge that we find out that the narrator’s situation may also be partially his own fault, hence the line “Slow down son shake yourself, why make your own hell”. In conjunction with this same idea is the “confidence pill” to “take away my self-doubt”. The song ends with more of the Grateful Dead excerpt and some upbeat solo work.
The overall idea of the song once again goes back to the idea of “trapped spirits.” The narrator has become a victim of rough times and possibly his own dispositions, and is simply seeking a “way out”.
55. Sunfower Cat
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