Thursday, November 18, 2004

Fennario

If you've listened to much Grateful Dead music you've probably heard of Fennario. It's a prominent place in the song Dire Wolf:

In the timbers of Fennario the wolves are running round

The winter was so hard and cold, froze ten feet 'neath the ground


I came across the name again while listening to Gov't Mule's Lay Of The Sunflower:


I must leave you for a season

Go out logging that hardwood timber

Hardwood timber that grows so low

In the forest of Fennario.


It turns out Robert Hunter, the famous Grateful Dead lyricist wrote both these songs.


This got me curious where Fennario actually is. After a lot of searching and false hits on David Fennario, the famous Canadian author that I had never heard of before, I came across this Grateful Dead Hour interview with author Alan Trist. According to Trist:


Gans: Maybe you can tell us if there's a place called Fennario - and if so,
where and what?



Trist: Well, David, I was able to find the answer the question to that ques-
tion. If you're a songwriter and you need a word, you might refer to Alan
Lomax's Song Archivist, and there he suggests that "Fennario" is a perfect
place name, if you need a generic name for an indeterminate place, because it
has four syllables: Fen-na-ri-o. If you a need a three-syllable place name,
you might use "Fidio." So Fennario is a place in the imagination. The syl-
labic imagination, perhaps.



Gans: I was hoping there was some history to it....



Trist: [Laughs] You were hoping it was a real place that had a lot attached
to it. Well, I think you can attach those things to it yourself. It's a very
evocative name.



Like Gans, I was hoping for more.
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