deadsongs.vue.191 : The Stranger (Two Souls In Communion)
permalink #0 of 4: David Dodd (ddodd) Mon 8 Sep 03 09:38
The Stranger (Two Souls In Communion)
w&m: McKernan
deadsongs.vue.191 : The Stranger (Two Souls In Communion)
permalink #1 of 4: Alex Allan (alexallan) Mon 8 Sep 03 20:15
The Stranger (Two Souls in Communion) 
Lyrics: Ron McKernan
Music: Ron McKernan

Copyright Ice Nine Publishing; used by permission.

What are they seeing, when they look in each other's eyes? 
What are they feeling, when they see each other's smile? 
Is it a love I've never known - or an emotion that I've outgrown? 

Did I take a wrong turning on life's winding road? 
Won't somebody help me find the right way to go? 
My life need some correction, alteration in direction 
Won't somebody comfort me for a while - yes, I'm lost 

What is the secret of this tie that binds?
Two souls in communion, both body and mind
Is it special magic, or just the nature of things? 
Conceived of great spirit, not for beggars but kings

You who have found it, please help me along
I'm a man, I'm a man, - I'm not made out of stone 
My needs they are simple, I don't want many things, 
But I truly want to fly on those wings of love one more time. 

That's all I need (fly up, fly home)
I want to fly on them wings (fly up, fly home)
I want to fly on them wings of love (fly up, fly home)
I'm a stranger here (fly up, fly home)
Won't somebody help me now (fly up, fly home)
I wake up early in the morning (fly up, fly home)
you know I never saw you babe (fly up, fly home)
I just can't seem to understand
Can't seem to understand what's wrong (fly up, fly home)
What I wanna do is take a little ride with you, on the wings of love
Woh-oh one more time, one more time. 
deadsongs.vue.191 : The Stranger (Two Souls In Communion)
permalink #2 of 4: David Gans (tnf) Wed 13 Jun 07 14:53

Charity writes:

I've been listening to the song Two Souls In Communion from 4/24/72 and I
don't know the actual written lyrics, but these are some of the differences
I've noticed:
Is it a love I've never known
I also agree with This tie that binds
My needs they are simple, I don't want many things
deadsongs.vue.191 : The Stranger (Two Souls In Communion)
permalink #3 of 4: David Dodd (ddodd) Mon 23 Dec 13 14:22
My post about the song on "Greatest Stories Ever Told," the blog I'm
writing for

Read the original post, subsequent commentary, and add your own
comments at

Pigpen’s composition, “The Stranger (Two Souls in Communion)” was
shrouded in obscurity for years. Back in 1997, I had a very fun
circular exchange about the authorship of the song: Alex Allan wrote to
me asking if I had any firm info on whether Pigpen wrote the song; I
wrote to David Gans, who said he didn’t know, and suggested I ask Alan
Trist; Alan Trist wrote back saying he wasn’t sure, and would look into
it; David Gans wrote me a few days later to say that he had had a
phone call from Dennis McNally asking about the song’s authorship,
because Alan Trist had been asking about it! At that point, David
suggested that Dennis ask Phil.
Eventually, the question was resolved. Ron McKernan is now officially
named as the composer and lyricist of the song, which the Dead broke
out on March 21, 1972, at the Academy of Music in New York City. They
took it to Europe and it was played a total of 12 times, with the final
performance taking place on May 26, 1972 at the Strand Lyceum in
London. (This was the next-to-last song ever sung by Pigpen in concert
with the band. He appeared in one more show, back in the USA at the
Hollywood Bowl, but did not sing.)
I love Pigpen’s singing on the song, captured in a number of live
releases, but never laid down, as far as I know, in a studio setting.
(This makes it part of that whole 1972-era set of songs that never
received studio treatment. Sources indicate that Pigpen did quite a bit
of work on a solo album, but it was never released. Apparently
excerpts from this album circulate, although I haven’t heard them. I
wonder if “The Stranger” was one of those songs?)
He captures in words, and conveys musically, the longing for love we
all feel. In the case of the song’s narrator, it’s from the perspective
of a single person, not in a love relationship, wondering what the
secret is that brings two people together, and why he is on the outside
looking in.
“What are they seeing, when they look in each other’s eyes?”
And later: “You who have found it, please help me along.”
I’m sure many of us have been in this position—wondering if capital
“L” Love is even a real thing? As he asks in the song: “What are they
feeling, when they see each other smile? Is it love, I don’t know—or an
emotion that I’ve outgrown?” Even if we’ve experienced it, love can
seem to be a chimera once it’s gone, and it’s easy to begin to doubt
that it is even real. There’s a wonderful line in the John Prine song
“The Sins of Memphisto,” with the line: “Sittin’ on the front porch,
drinkin’ Orange Crush, wonderin’ if it’s possible for me to still
blush.” I think that gets at the same thing. In the absence of love,
even if we’ve felt it before, it seems just plain unreal, or
And hearing Pigpen sing this, whether or not it is a first-person
reality for Pigpen in real life, serves a function of creating empathy
for those who are in that position—something we would all do well to
keep in mind.

I think this is an important function in the work of the Dead
generally—engendering empathy for people in difficult, desperate, or
dire positions. Outlaws and desperados, hypochondriacs, bereaved
spouses, all take their place in our subconscious as the words permeate
through the songs. Really, it doesn’t have to be conscious at all.
One recurring theme in the comments on these posts has been that
people never really thought the words were necessary to consider in
order to love the songs, and that’s true, sure.
But don’t you think they seep in, on their own, and lodge somewhere in
there, in our deeper selves? So that when we see a down and out guy on
the street, we can think of “Wharf Rat” or “Mission in the Rain,” and
perhaps have a little different perspective? And maybe, when we are
crazy newly in love and out in public, it might be worth considering
the feelings of those who have no such joy in their lives right now,
and maybe just tone it down a notch in public? I think maybe so.
Suffering comes in many forms, and each of us can do some part, through
empathy, to relieve that suffering.
Given the larger perspective of this “love song”—that is, a song more
about Love, generally, than many love songs which might be about a
particular relationship situation, it’s not surprising, really, that
Pigpen has elevated the rhetoric to include invoking the divine.
“Conceived of Great Spirit,” “Two souls in communion,” and “The tie
that binds…” all carry non-secular weight, and this religious language
makes me wonder if Pigpen was considering his own mortality when he
wrote the song.
“Blest Be the Tie That Binds,” a 19th Century hymn with 18th Century
words by John Fawcett, opens with this verse:
Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.
And it concludes:
From sorrow, toil and pain,
And sin, we shall be free,
And perfect love and friendship reign
Through all eternity.
Pigpen, the frontman known for his bawdy encouragement of his
audiences to turn on their love light and hook up with the person next
to them, shows us a completely different side with “The Stranger.”
Love, with a capital “L.”
It’s a song for eternity, indeed.
deadsongs.vue.191 : The Stranger (Two Souls In Communion)
permalink #4 of 4: coal will turn to gray (comet) Thu 26 Dec 13 12:58
Great song. 

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