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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    Jan 21st, 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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    Apr 15th, 2011 4:41pm report

    I agree on the electric fan interpretation. To that one idiot who said "drug dealer"... uhmmm can you be a little less cliche'. Not everything the dead wrote was about drugs you numb nuts moron.


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    Jan 26th, 2011 1:41pm report

    When the band lived at 710 Haight Ashbury they had a large, mechanical fan named Bertha that wobbled and would "move" across the floor.

    Why was it named Bertha? Don't know, but I retrived the following on the name "Bertha" from behindthename.com:

    Originally a short form of Germanic names ... also appears in southern Germanic legends (often spelled Perchta or Berchta) belonging to a goddess of animals and weaving.

    Independent Thinker


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    Mar 7th, 2010 3:44am report

    Bertha is their heroin dealer.


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    Oct 2nd, 2008 10:12pm report

    I was told by a reliable source that this song is not about a woman named Bertha, but rather a large industrial sized fan they used to circulate the air in their rehearsal space. The fan was out of balance, and would vibrate, and "crawl" across the floor. They called it Big Bertha. Sorry to ruin it for any hardcore deadheads that assumed, as I did,that there really was a living breathing Bertha that inspired this one.Any similarities, or references to an actual woman are purely metaphorical.

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