deadsongs.vue.17 : Bertha
permalink #0 of 60: (alexallan) Wed 10 Sep 03 23:45
w: Hunter m: Garcia
deadsongs.vue.17 : Bertha
permalink #1 of 60: Alex Allan (alexallan) Wed 10 Sep 03 23:46
Lyrics: Robert Hunter
Music: Jerry Garcia

Copyright Ice Nine Publishing; used by permission.

I had a hard run
Running from your window
I was all night running, running
Lord, I wonder if you care
I had a run in
Run around and a run down
Run around the corner, corner
Lord ran smack into a tree

I had to move
Really had to move
That's why if you please
I am on my bended knees
Bertha don't you come around here any more

Dressed myself in green
Lord I went down unto the sea
Try to see what's going down
Try to read between the lines
I had a feeling I was falling, falling, falling
I turned round to see
Heard a voice a-calling
Lord you was coming after me


Ran into a rain-storm
Ducked into a bar door
It's all night pouring, pouring rain
Lord but not a drop on me
Test me, test me, test me, test me
Why don't you arrest me
Throw me in the jail house
Lord, until the sun go down

deadsongs.vue.17 : Bertha
permalink #2 of 60: David Gans (tnf) Sun 1 Feb 04 13:27

From Blanton Fortson:

My question today  is about "Bertha" lyrics. I used to hear a particular line
in "Bertha" as "dressed myself i dreams, I went down under the sea".

It seems to me (though I may be mistaken) that I remember Garcia in an old
interview somewhere remarking about those lyrics and the "sea" of the collec-
tive consciousness...

However, all the current lyrics sites read "i dressed myself in green, I went
down unto the sea" ...

Do you have any idea if Jerry ever used to sing "I dressed myself in dreams"
... ?

Silly question perhaps, but it has come up in a discussion.

Kind Regards, Blanton


I asked him for permission to post the question here.  He said yes, and added

It may be that I heard "unto the sea" as "under the sea". Who knows.  I took
"dressed myself in dreams, went out under the sea" in an almost Jungian way,
as dressing oneself in dreams and sailing out under the sea of collective
consciousness, or the unconscious. I'm almost thinking I remember Jerry
remarking about that in an early interview,  but you know about memory!

So many of the songs and performances were like Rorschach tests! Psychedelia
can be deliciously ambiguous.
deadsongs.vue.17 : Bertha
permalink #3 of 60: my name is obviously wasted (xian) Sun 1 Feb 04 14:21
I always hear it as "dressed myself in green" but with Hunter from
green to Dreams is not that big a leap and Hunter's a master of
suggestive words that include a cavalcade of shadow meanings and
alternative choices - one of the things that makes some of his lyrics
so psychedelic. He was quoted as saying that he opften prefers fan's
"misheard" lyrics to the originals.

A similar one is Terrapin. "His job is to share the light and not to
master" or "His job is to shed light and not to master"?
deadsongs.vue.17 : Bertha
permalink #4 of 60: Julie Ellen Anzaldo (jewel) Mon 2 Feb 04 10:13
I usually think of someone bathing themselves (usually me) in healing energy
(green) and then immersing themselves in something vast, rich, and immense
when I hear that line.
deadsongs.vue.17 : Bertha
permalink #5 of 60: Marked from the Day That I was Born (ssol) Mon 2 Feb 04 12:40
...not to master ;-)
deadsongs.vue.17 : Bertha
permalink #6 of 60: Peeping Tom Blues (comet) Mon 2 Feb 04 21:10
I had a hard on
runnin from your window
deadsongs.vue.17 : Bertha
permalink #7 of 60: Brian Penney (bpenney) Thu 5 Feb 04 10:41
auditory rorschach blots.  

that's new to my mind.  
deadsongs.vue.17 : Bertha
permalink #8 of 60: Marked from the Day That I was Born (ssol) Mon 12 Dec 05 16:56
Somewhere along the line, the refering page from, ref "Bertha" and >dressed
myself in green< melted into the digital aether.

Meanwhile, last evening my girlfriend got into a rap about the "Green
Man", a figure from the pagan lore depicted in Christian traditions via
architecure, and still seen today, as an ivy wrapped (as in "St.
Stephen"?) gargoyle centered upon the arches and frieze of cathedrals
and other buildings. I recall an old chemistry building on the campus
of Smith College, that sports such a fellow above the main door. has bit more on this. No
connection to diving into the sea is obvious ;-)

I think it all might have to do with something about reading between
the lines.
deadsongs.vue.17 : Bertha
permalink #9 of 60: David Dodd (ddodd) Tue 13 Dec 05 14:25
Who maintains that Annotated Lyrics site, anyway? (Sigh...almost every
external link I ever posted has gone away by now. Time for a ground-up
redesign of the site!)
deadsongs.vue.17 : Bertha
permalink #10 of 60: Marked from the Day That I was Born (ssol) Tue 13 Dec 05 16:29
Well, it's just another typical fucked-up Grateful Dead thing, as far
as I can tell ;-)

Oh... a little more poking around brought me to Bacchus and Pan and
magic grottoes, water nymphs, and such. I think that Bertha's boyfriend
got himself good and twisted down in the gulley back of her house,
reconnoitering the fine situation that that woman got him into, so to

That's my interpretation, but I'm no scholar.

Heh! Of course, it took me only a couple of days to recognize that the
weird garden statuary that I put up on my bookshelf because it seemed
cool but I don't have a garden, was, of course, a Green Man. He's been
watching this entire stupid enterprise!
deadsongs.vue.17 : Bertha
permalink #11 of 60: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Wed 14 Dec 05 08:21
The West Javanese believe that going into or on the sea wearing green
is asking for trouble.

"Nyai Loro Kidul was the daughter of the West Javanese King Prabu
Silwangi and his beautiful young wife Princess Kadita.

As the legend goes, Silwangi's other wives were jealous of Kadita and
her equally beautiful daughter so they used black magic to bring down a
horrible disease on the twosome that destroyed their good looks and
made them stink.

The stench forced the king to send the pair packing, and after some
wondering and privations the mother died and Nyai Loro Kidul, harking
to sirens in the waves below, took her famous plunge.

Instead of dying, she was transformed into the beautiful sea goddess
who continues to haunt the bay, preying on fishermen and sea bathers,
especially those wearing green - her favourite colour." [Peter Jansenn,]

Back in the early '60s Sukarno, then President of the fledgling
republic, used Soviet architectural know-how to build the Samudra Beach
hotel near Pelabuhanratu, which is where Nyai Loro Kidul took her
plunge into the sea. It really is the acme of Black Sea style holiday
accommodation. Room 308 at the hotel is always left empty for the use
of the sea goddess on orders from Sukarno. I've stayed at the hotel,
and can verify that the room is indeed left vacant, and I'd say further
that you probably don't have to wear green to risk drowning in the
ocean beyond the black sand beach there. There is some nice body
surfing and belly boarding surf there but very serious rips and

In Central Java, the Sea Goddess enters the Water Garden of the
Sultan's palace in Jogjakarta once a year, where she has congress with
the Sultan to ensure bounty for the people. I'm not sure if it is the
same Sea Goddess, but I suspect not.
deadsongs.vue.17 : Bertha
permalink #12 of 60: Marked from the Day That I was Born (ssol) Wed 14 Dec 05 17:24

I've got to get the key to room 308.
deadsongs.vue.17 : Bertha
permalink #13 of 60: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Thu 15 Dec 05 08:25
Guests are able to have a look at Room 308, in fact I don't think it
was locked. If you are ever in Java, the Samudra Beach Hotel is a must.
And the fish market at Pelabuhanratu is wonderful. The road from Bogor
on is a bit suspect, takes a while, but the destination is well worth
the journey. 
deadsongs.vue.17 : Bertha
permalink #14 of 60: Marked from the Day That I was Born (ssol) Thu 15 Dec 05 20:01
I've forwarded your travel suggestion to my Chief of Staff. The folks
in Java are now building a run-way long enough to accomodate my
personal jet.

Re-reading <11>, I'm also stumbling across Queen Moo of Central
America, Mother Mary, Isis and Osiris, and their several analogs. This
guy in green seems to have gotten all around the world.

Maybe this gets at the thing that Hunter, blessed lunatic he is, is
really good at. "Take it as far as you wanna go, 'till you can't see
the desert for the burnin' snow".
deadsongs.vue.17 : Bertha
permalink #15 of 60: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Sat 17 Dec 05 08:48
I don't think the runway thing is such a good idea. I think arriving
by boat may be the best. You could drop in on the pigmy rhinos on the
way. Ah Java, island of dreams, place of nightmares.

"Family ties is half the price; can the nation stay alive?
The other half was paid in blood back in 1965."

Then there is the Pink Floyd song, Green is the Colour:

"Green is the colour of her kind
Quickness of the eye deceives the mind
Many is the bond between the hopefull and the damned."
deadsongs.vue.17 : Bertha
permalink #16 of 60: Marked from the Day That I was Born (ssol) Sun 18 Dec 05 12:27
The hopeful and the damned. I like that, yes. I recall that old poster
for "The Quick and The Dead".
deadsongs.vue.17 : Bertha
permalink #17 of 60: Lightning in a Box (unkljohn) Sun 18 Dec 05 14:43
I think I saw an old racing movie long ago called "The Quick and the 
deadsongs.vue.17 : Bertha
permalink #18 of 60: Marked from the Day That I was Born (ssol) Sun 18 Dec 05 18:06
Right! Who was in that? There was a later film with the same title,
with Gene Hackman and, I think, Sharon Stone. Before that there was a
WWII movie with that name. I do seem to recall a 60's flick about fast
cars with the same title.

But the consonance with the meme, "the bond between the hopefull and
the damned", is nice.

So was the picture of Lon chaney as the Phantom on that old SF poster
for the Fillmore.
deadsongs.vue.17 : Bertha
permalink #19 of 60: searchlight casting (jstrahl) Fri 23 Dec 05 11:29
There was an interview with Jerry a *long* time ago in which he said
the tune was about a fan (the machine sort:-)) in the rehearsal studio
that used to act up in strange ways.But like so much in Hunter lyrics,
maybe that's just a takeoff point for a broader statement. OR maybe it
was just a joke on Jerry's part. Or maybe it was all a dream.
deadsongs.vue.17 : Bertha
permalink #20 of 60: David Dodd (ddodd) Fri 23 Dec 05 22:08
Sometimes it seems like ALL this life was just a dream...
deadsongs.vue.17 : Bertha
permalink #21 of 60: David Dodd (ddodd) Mon 19 May 08 12:08
Posted on behalf of Eric Hanson:

Heynow, my name is Eric Hanson. I check out your annotated lyrics list
now and then, and I think i've figured something out.
  No ones mentioned it yet but I believe the song 'Bertha' is inspired
by D.H. Lawrence's 'Lady Chatterley's Lover". One of the primary
characters, Oliver Mellors, has an estranged wife by the name of Bertha
 One point has him sneaking up to and away from the house after what'd
been a rainy night, to try and glimpse his love, Lady Chatterley. 
 And toward's the end of the book, he 'really had to move', as his
estranged wife showed up again after a while, naked, in his bed, having
broken in while he was gone. He wont' have her back, yada yada... you
can check the plot summary, or you're probably quite familiar with
 But I think that was more or less the inspiration behind the song.
I'd love to see this bit of trivia on that site if you think it has
deadsongs.vue.17 : Bertha
permalink #22 of 60: Ed Hewitt (ehewitt) Fri 11 Jul 08 10:36
i was just poking around the topic, but thought i would share this:
when i pulled up the topic, i was listening to the Grateful Dead
channel on - and the "related music" that came on second
later was Don't Come Around Here No More by Tom Petty. a little of the
old magic in the air...
deadsongs.vue.17 : Bertha
permalink #23 of 60: Alex Allan (alexallan) Fri 24 May 13 07:50
Re: "Ducked into a bar door"

On his site, David has an annotation "I always thought, from the Skull
& Roses recording, that this line said something about the town of
Novato, in California. I guess not."

A correspondent (Phil Hubbard) has just pointed out to me that has the lyric as "I ducked back into Novato." Odd - especially
as they took quite a lot of material from my site. I guess someone
transcribed the line from listening to Skull & Roses. Hunter's "Box Of
Rain" collected lyrics definitely has it as "bar door" - and for me,
that fits the sense of the lyric better.
deadsongs.vue.17 : Bertha
permalink #24 of 60: coal will turn to gray (comet) Fri 24 May 13 08:37
This is one I have always heard as "ducked back into a bardo" from the
Tibetan Book of the Dead (Bardo Theodal), where bardo indicates an
intermediate state, capturing the spiritual ambiguity of the song's
love/hate relationship. 
deadsongs.vue.17 : Bertha
permalink #25 of 60: beneath the blue suburban skies (aud) Fri 24 May 13 09:20
i always heard 'bar door' because when i first heard it i had no idea what a
bardo was!

it was my first song live. 7-18-72.


Members: Enter the conference to participate. All posts made in this conference are world-readable.

Subscribe to an RSS 2.0 feed of new responses in this topic RSS feed of new responses

   Join Us
Home | Learn About | Conferences | Member Pages | Mail | Store | Services & Help | Password | Join Us

Twitter G+ Facebook