White Rabbit

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don’t do anything at all

White Rabbit is a song by Jefferson Airplane. It is a well known hit from the album,Surrealistic Pillow (could that be any trippier?) and a poster child for psychedelic music. The song details the famous Lewis Carol book Alice in Wonderland. In which a young girl follows a white rabbit down a rabbit hole in a garden and enters a magical world full and meets strange characters such as a smoking caterpillar, the queen of hearts and twiddle dee and twiddle dum. The female vocalist’s voice is amplified ion such a way that it resonates. It’s almost haunting. The song ended their set at Woodstock in 1969. Grace Slick, the vocalist got the idea for the song after taking LSD and listening to Miles Davis “Sketches of Spain” according to song facts.com


All along the Watchtower

Dylan’s original version of this song was not exactly a hit. Hendrix released it as a single in 1968 and it was well received by the public. It was Jimi Hendrix’s one and only top 40 Billboard hit. This to me is the epitome of Psychadelic Rock Music. It had Jimi’s classic guitar riffs and a mix of tambourine and some kind of castinettes or maracas or something. This, while a good song, is not my favorite of the two. To me the extra guitar stuff, while essential to Hendrix’s style, takes away from the lyrics. The song to me, as most of Dylan’s work, is more of a story and should be enjoyed and pondered for its lyrical content.



All Along the Watchtower (Dylan)

“All Along the Watchtower” was originally performed by Bob Dylan on his John Wesley Harding Album. While it does have the melodic harmonica which to me resembles a psychedelic trip as with the use of the keyboard, Dylan’s song is largely folksy with a steady guitar strum and conversational lyrics. The lyrics though are to me very psychedelic in that the world he talks about seems almost fable like. It reminded me of the Canterbury Tales in that I kept expecting some form of trickery to be preformed. He also uses juxtaposing lyrics such as joker and thief. The song to me is egnimatic, one of those things that it is so simple and open ended that it is almost more confusing.


Feels like the First Time

Okay, we’re jumping ahead but I was listening to it and I like this song and it, while not traditionally psychedelic rock, incorporated elements into the song.
The opening guitar riff is typical for rock music, but what makes this song psychedelic is the use of a tambourine alongside a keyboard that is the epitome of the psychedelic sound: a trance-like tone. These sounds kind of fade to the background but are still audible through out which makes the song sound almost multidimensional. The chorus repeats twice and then there is this cool incredibly psychedelic part which uses the same keyboard sequences as before, but slowed down and synthesized using a space-like effect. A slow guitar strumming that goes through multiple bars of music – from very high to very low – accompanies this keyboard until it fades out and the tambourine takes over and guitar solo with a cascading melody until the song ends.


Come on Baby Light Fire

http://www.madcapmusicreview.com/Pages/The_List/100_Psychedelic_Songs/PS_1_10.html (number 2)

The Doors are a band from LA that formed in 1965. The members included Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, and Jon Densmore and Robby Kreiger. The band took their name from Alduous Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception (according to the Door’s Wiki page). “Light My Fire” came out of their debut album with Electronika Records. The album only took 6 days to record. The song was originally 7 minutes long on the album but had to be edited down to three minutes because it was requested so much. To me the song is awesome in its simplicity. In opens with about fifteen seconds of swirls of keyboard notes enveloped in the crash of the symbols, very trippy. The lyrics are simple, with its presence of innuendos. However, taken from a different perspective, “girl we couldn’t get much higher” along with “come on baby light my fire” could easily be a drug reference. His voice is almost ghostly and crescendos every time he says “come on baby light my fire”.

The Doors, one of my favorite bands ever, prospered into the 1970s until Morrison died of drug related issues (go figure) in 1971. The band disbanded 2 years later.



Taken from their debut album, Hush starts off strong with a heavy guitar riff that has been distorted. Distortion is a tool that changes the frequency of a guitar and creates an almost “dirty” sound. A keyboard plays alongside the initial riff and has a pipe organ sound to it that moves it from higher to lower frequencies very quickly. A chorus of men singing is reminiscent of the 1960’s psychedelic rock songs that had a “happy” feel to them. Then, the guitar takes a much more psychedelic turn to it, drastically increasing and decreasing in the amount of distortion. Nearing the end of the song, the keyboard becomes more prominent and there is a minute-long keyboard solo. This solo has rapid sequences of notes that have the pipe organ-feel to them and are layered with other notes.

Deep Purple went on to produce a wide variety of sounds that were on the heavier side of psychedelic rock. They would go on to be pioneers of hard rock and heavy metal, both of which often have elements of psychedelic rock in them.


She’s so Heavy


Taken from their 1969 album Abbey Road, the song “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” by the Beatles is a particularly great example of psychedelic rock. The song begins with a heavy guitar riff followed by the bluesy strum of a guitar while drums play lightly giving an almost jazz-like sound, which are all influences of Psychedelic Rock. After about 2 minutes, the main psychedelic riff begins again, but this time with a keyboard in the background. The keyboard is particularly psychedelic with a multitude of notes cascading both up and down in scale at a rapid pace, which kind of sounds like what I think would be the background music in a trance. The song continues on this path of switching between heavy psychedelic-laced riffs and softer, jazzier, blues-like moments; the song becomes heavier and heavier until the main riff dominates the entire last two minutes of the track. This heavy riff continues as white noises begin to drown out the sound of the double tracked guitar which too me is incredibly psychedelic and cool to listen to.

This is perhaps one of the Beatles’ more psychedelic songs. The albums Abbey Road (1969), Revolver (1966) and Rubber Soul (1965) are considered apart of the “psychedelic years”. All of these albums were innovative in that they used many never-before-been-heard-in-rock sounds, such as the sitar and the Moog synthesizer. These albums would go on to influence future artists and are considered to be part of the early movement of what would become psychedelic rock.