Where does the expression far out come from?
I had to phone someone so I picked on you /
Hey, that's far out so you heard him too! /
Switch on the TV we may pick him up on channel two
(This is a lyric from "Starman" by David Bowie)
The Oxford English Dictionary defines far out as:
Their first quotation is an 8th November 1954 Time Magazine article entitled "Far-Out Words for Cats":
We can see this term beginning to emerge in Simon Michael Bessie's 1938 book Jazz Journalism: The Story of the Tabloid Newspapers:
Whilst the book is about tabloid papers and not jazz, it shows "far out" being applied to something novel and possibly avant-garde.
Here's Esquire's 1946 Jazz Book applying it to jazz of the most progressive kind:
Here's another snippet, from a 1947 The Jazz Record:
And from the next page:
These may not be the exact use of the phrase, but give an indication of how it came around.
It appears to have used as a set term in a publication of the South Dakota State University sometime in 1954:
Billboard of 24 April 1954 reviews Les Elgart Orchestra's song "East is East":
Billboard of 26 June 1954 reviews Serena Shaw's "St. Louis Blues":
The same November 8, 1954 Time Magazine cited by the OED had another article that used:
The words far and out have been around forever but John Denver made the phrase "far out" popular.
Robert Frost and Aldous Huxley wrote "Neither Far Out or In Deep" in 1939. I think that might be a better starting place
as in Beyond Great :)
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