Meaning of the word "DeadHead".

Discussion in 'Grateful Dead and Phish' started by sprout, Apr 3, 2007.

  1. sprout

    sprout DeadHead

    I picked this up on the Berkeley FTP site

    From Sun Jan 9 12:54:22 PST 1994Newsgroups: Steve Silberman <>Subject: Deadhead, the wordMessage-ID: <CJDpoz.1MA@murdoch.acc.Virginia.EDU>Reply-To: Sun, 9 Jan 1994 20:17:23 GMTTo add to tomgally's EXCELLENT citing:Deadhead - Someone who loves, and derives meaning from, the music of theGrateful Dead. The word used in this way is said to have been encouraged byBill Graham in (check date.)--

    The earliest meanings of the word "deadhead"predate the Grateful Dead by four centuries, but have intriguing resonancesfor its later use. The original Latin term, _caput mortuum,_ was used by alchemists to describe the residue "remaining after the distillation orsublimation of any substance, 'good for nothing but to be flung away, allvertue being extracted'" - i.e., used up.-- The _Oxford English Dictionary_notes the first recorded English use of this meaning of "deadhead" in a bookcalled _Gesner's New jewell of health,_ translated by George Baker, andpublished in 1576: "See whether the deadeheade be blacke."--

    By themid-1850s, a "deadhead" had become "one who travels free, hence eats free,or, especially, goes free to a place of entertainment," --and an 1883 reviewof Donizetti's opera Lucia Di Lammermoor in the London Daily Telegraphpanned it by saying it was so "stale," even "the most confirmed deadhead"wouldn't try to scam in to the Opera House. "Deadheadism" was the practiceof letting people into a show for free, and in 1860, Oliver Wendell Holmeswrote in _Elsie Venner: A romance of destiny_that one of his characters"had been 'dead-headed' into the world some fifty years ago, and had satwith his hands in his pockets staring at the show ever since."(Spacedancing was still 100 years away.)

    The word was also applied to passengers riding trains without paying, with the implication that they were more like "dead head" of cattle than "livestock." The word is still in usein many trades and industries: A train that is being hauled by an othertrain is a "deadhead," and a cabbie returning without passengers from a distant destination is said to be "deadheading back." --Pruning flowers pasttheir peak of blooming is also called "deadheading," e.g., "Annie deadheaded the roses." The Dead-related meaning is beginning to infiltrate standarddictionaries. "A follower of the Grateful Dead rock group" is meaning #3 inthe National Textbook Company's 1993 edition of the_Dictionary of AmericanSlang and Colloquial Expressions,_ with these examples of usage: "What dothese deadheads see in that group?" and, "My son is a deadhead and travelsall over listening to these guys." (One has to wonder if there's a Deadheadon staff at the National Textbook Company. The use of the word "bong" isillustrated by the cheerful, "Fill up your bong and let's get going," aswell as the cautionary, "You can't just bong for the rest of your life!")The word "Deadhead" was trademarked by the Grateful Dead in (check date.) --this is the first very ROUGH unofficial leak from the manuscript onto thenet. I guess I wanted to be the first to bootleg my own book ;-), and Ithought "Deadhead" would be a good place to start. This entry is still inprocess, obviously. The little control-Fs are paragraph marks I think, orfootnotes.I can't leak much, I'm afraid. But I was impressed that tomgally must havesat with the same heavy OED in his lap as I did :)Steve't worry, I won't be deluging the net with entries--my publisher wouldfreek anyway)

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