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Robert Hunter had his poetic beginnings in the Palo Alto CA coffeehouse scene in the mid-sixties It was there that he began writing poetry and found his future song writing partner Jerry Garcia Although Hunter had been writing poetry for several years his career did not begin in earnest until 1967 when he mailed the lyrics to St Stephen Alligator and China Cat Sunflower to his friend Garcia and the Grateful Dead He was almost immediately taken on as the primary lyricist for the band In collaboration with Garcias musical talent Hunter began turning out dozens of poems that would later become well-known songs The poems of Robert Hunter have diverse and variegated themes most however relate either to folk stories or the vivid emotions and scenes he creates in order to illustrate his point Hunters lyrical themes can be divided into three main categories First are themes used in a traditional vein written about classical ideas and told in a folkloric fashion Second are themes employed in a contemporary tone about modern concepts and written in a more current style Last are themes that are either used frequently in both contemporary and traditional ways or transcend the division of contemporarytraditional and form their own categories One of the main traditional themes that Hunter uses is the gambling theme The poems Candyman and Loser exemplify this motif the best Come on boys and gamble Roll those laughing bones Seven come eleven boys Ill take your money home --Candyman Last fair deal in the country sweet Suzy Last fair deal in the town Put your gold money where your love is baby Before you let my deal go down --Loser Both are about professional gamblers and both especially Loser carry overtones of trouble and treachery The following lines illustrate one such instance in Candyman I come in from Memphis where I learned to talk the jive When I get back to Memphis Be one man less
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