Today’s Listening Pleasure: THE DEAD KENNEDYS: “Rawhide”
Needless to say at 70 years old I am still a sucker for the old black/white 30 minute television westerns I grew up with, some got even better when the programs grew to one hour in “living color”. “Gunsmoke” was a true favorite of mine. In hindsight I would have to question the integrity of the characters as represented in each episode. First, the star is U.S. Marshall Dillon who regularly patrols the wooden walkways of Dodge City looking for miscreants, criminals, and those on the “most wanted” posters found in his office. Usually, the Marshal is drinking beer in the saloon with his trusted companion “The Doc” and also found at a table is “Miss Kitty” the owner/operator of the saloon and brothel upstairs. In today’s world, let’s just say the constant public drinking of the “Doc” and Marshall would be frowned upon, and to be hanging with “Miss Kitty” a “lady of the evening” at their side, enough said.
In more than one episode the “guest” character when leaving the saloon table with some sage advice will say, “So long, Marshall” which got me thinking. What the hell does “So Long” mean…and why would someone in 1870 Kansas territory use that phrase?(Kansas Statehood January 1869)…Hmmmm…
So here it goes, the etymology of the phrase as best I understand it. “So long” used as an interjection is a parting salutation mostly of unknown origin. Legend has it that it was a slurring of words, that is a “mispronunciation” of Scandinavian phrase “adjo sa ledge” literally “bye so long” used by sailors, dock workers and prostitutes. The phrase turned up about the same time in 1860 America, Great Britain, and Canada. However, its first use in print was in the last poem in WALT WHITMAN’S “Leaves of Grass” (1860). It was commonly used in subsequent years by laborers and middle class in port cities of the Northeast America, and considered a bit vulgar by the upper class. Picked up in early into the “roaring twenties” by the literary and artists it was then “hip” to use in common vernacular as a proper salutation of departure…”so long for now”
to be continued…
PS: The Arizona Historical Society and The Wild West History Association, documented that Matt Dillon’s TV character was shot at least 56 times, knocked unconscious 29 times, stabbed three times, and poisoned once.
Oh, Ye, gentle mistresses and most distinguished gentlemen, and others… The opinions and observations are solely my own views, and I take full responsibility for any errors of fact, not to mention any predictions that prove to be wildly inaccurate.