"blow (one's own/someone else's) mind" (was: Re: lid, meth, etc. (1966))

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Mon Dec 20 22:39:50 UTC 2004

On Mon, 20 Dec 2004 14:35:28 -0500, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>

>At 3:44 AM -0500 12/20/04, Benjamin Zimmer wrote:
>>    Way-Out Garb Offers Art Form for Clique
>>    Los Angeles Times, Nov 2, 1965, p. A1
>>    "The clothing makes me feel free and I dig blowing people's minds
>>    (upsetting people)."
>>This is already the transferred sense, 'to produce (in a person) a
>>pleasurable (or shocking) sensation', so the more strictly drug-related
>>sense is no doubt even older.
>The Lovin' Spoonful's classic "Do You Believe In Magic", which as
>memory serves, was familiar to everyone (well, maybe not EVERYone)
>during the summer of 1965 and may have come out a few months before
>that, began as follows.  And yes, this was already understood as a
>metaphorical transfer by then.
>Your feet start tapping and you can't seem to find
>How you got there, so just blow your mind

Online sources say the single was released in August '65.  Its first week
on the Cashbox Top 100 singles was the week ending Aug 28, 1965:


It's interesting that the usage in the Lovin' Spoonful song is reflexive
(sounds a bit odd to my post-Boomer ears).  Was this sense (blowing *one's
own* mind) the historically prior one?  Many of the other early cites are
also reflexive:

   Washington Post, Aug 21, 1966, p. E1
   These guys with long hair were huddled in the corner passing a
   joint (marijuana cigarette) around and blowing their minds.

   Los Angeles Times, Aug 27, 1966, p. B1
   When I was about to lose my wits -- should I say blow my mind? --
   it steadied me.

   Frank Zappa, "Son of Suzy Creamcheese" (recorded Nov 1966)
   (lyric) Suzy you were such a sweetie (yeah, yeah, yeah)
   Once you were my one and only (yeah, yeah, yeah)
   Blew your mind on too much Kool-Aid (yeah, yeah, yeah)

   From OED2:

   1967 San Francisco Examiner 12 Sept. 26/3 On a hip acid (LSD) trip
   you can blow your mind sky-high.
   1967 San Francisco Chron. 2 Oct. 49/3 Because when the Red Sox
   rallied to beat the Minneapolis Twins..Boston fans blew their minds.

What's the earliest cite for the usual transitive sense (blowing *someone
else's* mind)?  I don't have HDAS handy, but the earliest I've found is
the LA Times cite above from Nov 2, 1965 (just a few months after "Do You
Believe in Magic" was released).

--Ben Zimmer

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