What does Bertha mean?

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The Grateful Dead: Bertha Meaning


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Bertha Lyrics

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

I had to move
Really had to move
That's why if...


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    May 15th, 5:24pm report

    The band had definitely said in interviews that the song related to a large fan in their office, but obviously that isn't what it is really about. I think the verse says nothing about "bardo" or "barn door" but is "ducked into a bar door", "was all night raining but not a drop on me" i.e. the speaker was in the bar drinking all night, presumably looking to forget about Bertha.


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    Dec 7th, 2019 12:09pm report

    The Anonymous post above regarding bardo seems accurate and “Bertha” surely is a phonetic play on “birth”. When I first heard the song decades ago, I thought he was saying that he ducked into a “barn door” to get out of the rain. The deeper meaning seems to define the trials and tribulations of life as the rainstorm and the bardo reference is man removed from that existence (But not a drop on me), pending a rebirth. Clearly, he doesn’t want the rebirth


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    Jun 21st, 2019 6:51pm report

    Hunter said it’s about death and rebirth. I think Bertha means rebirth. He doesn’t want to be reincarnated once he dies. The running into a tree and running into a bar door are about all the troubles he’s had.


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    Jun 8th, 2019 6:45am report

    I was convinced by a reliable source that it surely about a big electrical fan, more importantly I love the way that a simple song about this electric fan, in true Grateful Dead form, has sparked many different interpretations, no matter on spot on or just utterly off base each one is. The Dead I'm sure are satisfied by the widely debated issue. ~GDF~


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    Jan 21st, 2017 1:53pm report

    Robert Hunter stated that the song is about death and rebirth.

    The song was definitely not based on the electric fan--the fan was named after the song, not vice-versa. Robert Hunter did not write songs about superficial things like electric fans.

    Considering Hunter's love of spirituality and mythology, Bertha is likely named after the Germanic goddess Bertha (Percht) who is "the rewarder of the generous, punisher of the bad".

    When Robert Hunter sings the song, he clearly sings "ducked back into a bardo" (the Tibetan mediation state between life and death). This supports the idea that the song is about an imperfect person trying to avoid death.


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    Jul 28th, 2016 7:10am report

    Hunter said it was about death and rebirth.


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    Oct 7th, 2015 10:25pm report

    had to move REALLY had to move,, sounds like akathesia to me,, which is one of those terrible side affects of herion/opiate withdrawal. seems odd that jerry would say something like "run smack into" and not be talking about H which happened to be his drug of chioce, esp when he says going down down read between the lines.if I had to get on my knees and beg anything to go away it would be opiate withdrawal. but who knows maybe its just a fan


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    May 7th, 2015 5:43am report

    Bertha is the cops and the song is about the need to sometimes run from them so they don't put you down on your knees and arrest you. Thus, the wish to have Bertha not come around here anymore cuz we don't need them and man they expect the same.


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    Apr 26th, 2015 4:05pm report

    At the 14 minute mark, the fan theory is confirmed.



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    Jan 15th, 2015 1:31pm report

    Run smack into a tree. I think it's skag
    I had to move really had to move. I think is opiate withdrawal. Bertha is herion/opiates


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    Nov 10th, 2013 11:50pm report

    Everyone one on the fan interpretation is correct in my opinion with the addition of yes, Big Birtha crawled but song is about the fan not oscillating again because they had just laid out a couple of fat lines on the table and Bertha blew it on to the floor....

    "Bertha don't you come around here no more...I am on my blended knees..."

    I like this idea of the song, much more GD humor


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    Aug 24th, 2013 8:14pm report

    The dead got busted in New Orleans, the warehouse had a big 6foot fan referred to by the club as Bertha...just sayin


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    Sep 4th, 2012 9:14am report

    It IS true the boys had a fan, that would move around the floor, named Bertha in their 710 Hashbury home. But with that, I don't believe this song is targeted just t'wards a fan. The Dead often have multiple meanings behind one song. This one in particular, is about someone you want to get away from and can't seem to shake their presence.
    "Running from your window",
    Dressed myself in green (like a mermaid or fish)
    I went down to the sea (very far away from civilization, expressing how far gone one has went to get away)

    Turned around to see
    Heard a voice calling, calling, calling
    You was comin back to me (seeing the person once again)

    Even down to the chorus, "i had to move", "on my bended knees,.. dont come around here anymore." (Begging, don't come around me)

    I don't believe lyrics are as important as the feel of a Dead song. It seems they leave alot of tunes up to personal ponder. I love that, as I often get something new out of a song every time I hear it.


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    May 28th, 2012 5:32pm report

    I have been interpreting Grateful Dead songs lately and today was searching for what people say about Bertha. Now, the explanation the song is about a fan holds no water. A reading of the lyrics point to Bertha being a dealer - don't come around here anymore, going on a "run", smack, etc. Most Dead songs are not about drugs, but this one certainly is by my estimation.


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    May 18th, 2012 5:22am report

    bertha was also some kinda saint chic around Germany. in short she was related to the dukes of lorraine, had properties aka well off. She married a pagan who was killed in battle then devoted her life to raising her son a christian. founded many hospice for the poor. visited rome then gave away all thier possessions and became hermits near germany.
    from the pocket books of saints abridged edition by john j. delaney. i was thumbing threw and thought hey shit could be the origin gotta hear again and now im on blogging knee.maybe it ties this way maybe its about a broken heroin dealing fan.

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