August 15, 2008

Mental Music - Top Ten Psychedelic Songs

I've been struggling lately trying to create playlists for my MP3 player. How in hell am I supposed to pick my top 10 Beatles or Grateful Dead songs? I just can't. So instead I started divvying my tunes by vibe or mood, like Best Angry Songs or Best Depressed songs. It's been a bit easier and inspired me to share, always a good thing with my daughter toddling lessons and all that shit. So to start it all off, here's my Top Psychedelic Songs:

10. Are You Experienced - Jimi Hendrix: I first heard this song when I was about 12 and it was musical hit of acid at the time. That chunky stacatto rhythm, those mind-bending backwards guitar riffs, Jimi's "well I ha-aaavve" refrain...I still get chills today. Here's a great 1968 live recording.

09. White Rabbit - Jefferson Airplane: the intro bass line to this song getting smothered by the vaguely foreign sounding guitar riff and then...that voice..."one pill makes you smaller". Feed your head indeed. Check out this video of the song from 1967.

08. Tomorrow Never Knows - The Beatles: this last track from The Revolver album drew from Lennon's exploration of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, was written in one chord (C) and received it's title from a flippant Ringo Starr comment. And it melts my brain every time I hear it. Somebody put a video for the song with Tibetan imagery together here.

07. I Had too Much to Dream (Last Night) - Electric Prunes: as one of the songs that helped define the genre from a pop consciousness, this song is a great listen, has incredible hooks and anthemic chorus. Watch the Electric Prunes perform it on the Mike Douglas show in 1967.

06. Eight Miles High - The Byrds: chaotic intro landing gently into those soothing vocal harmonies and the lyrics; "when you touch back down y
ou’ll find that it’s stranger than known". Then when McGuinn lets loose on the solo...where have you gone Major Tom? Watch The Byrds perform the song.

05. The Half Remarkable Question - Incredible String Band: a lot of folks are going to say that A Very Cellular Song should be representing the String Band and the argument is, I'm sure, a good one. But for me, this sitar-drenched medeival-themed ditty is way to on point to not be in this list. Watch them perform it live in 1968.

04. See Emily Play - Pink Floyd: Syd Barrett remains a musical genius of epic proportions. Check out the 1967 promotional video for the tune.

03. Journey to the Center of the Mind - The Amboy Dukes: Ok, Ted Nugent is a dickhead but the Amboy Dukes penned one of the greatest psychedlic tunes ever written and young Ted's guitar soloing is pretty sweet. This video is friggin' hilarious but gives you a great listen to this kick ass song.

02. Scent of a Mule - Phish: yeah I know it's bluegrass but c'mon, the places they took this song were beyond trippy. The Muppets on acid nature of this song just can't be beat. Watch the boys playing it live at Madison Square Garden in 1994.

01. Dark Star - Grateful Dead: I was hoping to have a shocking "oh my god, no he didn't" kind of #1 for this first top ten list but, well, it's Dark Star by the Dead. No song has ever taken me to as many places in my own head as this song. This August 27th 1972 version, from the Springfield Creamery Benefit Show, is one of my favorites. There is a beautiful mellowness to this late summer outdoor show.

Stay tuned for more Top Ten lists.

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