Oral history on "uptight" (1966)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Fri Dec 30 09:47:49 UTC 2005

On 12/30/05, Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at babel.ling.upenn.edu> wrote:
> Still, even if the 'tense, on-edge' sense goes back a few years
> earlier than Warhol's "Up-Tight" series, is there any further evidence
> that Methedrine users (and their cohorts) were responsible for the
> shift in usage?

More from the previously quoted Ronnie Cutrone...

_Can't Find My Way Home: America in the Great Stoned Age, 1945-2000_
by Martin Torgof (2004), p.165
"Paranoia was really our drug of choice, and we made jokes about it,
even though it could be a scary, weird thing," related Ronnie Cutrone
in his art studio in downtown Manhattan. "It was that New York black
T-shirt kind of existence of constantly being paranoid of your best
friends, of Andy, of who was trying to do what behind your back in
that cutthroat competition of who was going to get in the next movie.
That was the whole methedrine experience for us. You remember Stevie
Wonder's song 'Uptight (Everything's Alright)'? It went, 'Ev'rything
is all right, uptight, _out of sight_' -- meaning that it was _good_,
so even the word _uptight_ had positive connotations. If you were
uptight, you were cranked out of your skull, your jaw was locked, you
were paranoid. We loved that nasty amphetamine edge."

Ummm, I don't get it. Guess you had to be there.

--Ben Zimmer

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