"With tombstones in NP's eyes"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Thu Dec 9 04:14:23 UTC 2010

As far as I can tell, after a who-really-gives-a-damn search in
Google, the earliest known version of this is the line,

"With tombstones in their eyes"

1971. Steppenwolf. Pusher Man.

There and in many, if not all, subsequent occurrences, the reference
is, more or less, to the expression on the faces of people dying from
the effects of the drug life.

However, earlier, there occurs the verse

"My boy jumped up
With tombstones in his eyes"

1956. Boogaloo [RN: Kent Levaughn Harris, composer & performer] and
His Gallant Crew. Talk About A Party. Crest Records.

In this case, the reference is, rather, to the expression on the face
of a man who is - exaggeratedly, for effect - angry enough to kill, as
opposed to sick enough to die.

AFAIK, this is also the first occurrence of the word, _boogaloo_ /
(Latin) _bugalu_. It was only a stage name and had nothing to do with
the later dance.

IAC, IMO, "Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely
coincidental," as used to be said in radio days, so to speak.

For those who care, both recordings are available from iTunes.

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"––a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
–Mark Twain

Once we recognize that we do not err out of laziness, stupidity,
or evil intent, we can uncumber ourselves of the impossible burden of
trying to be permanently right. We can take seriously the proposition
that we could be in error, without necessarily deeming ourselves
idiotic or unworthy.
–Kathryn Schulz

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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