Sex, drugs and rock and roll. In many ways, it's the enduring holy trinity of pop music. Like it or not — we're not advocating anything — drugs are responsible for lots of great songwriting. So every Friday in August, we're going to take a look at the impact of drugs on popular music.
Psychedelics and music go hand in hand. Between popular songs and TV shows, LSD had a huge cultural impact on the 1970s. Some people use LSD to find God; for others, it's responsible for creativity. Steve Jobs said, "Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life." If it weren't for acid, you might not be reading this on your iPhone right now.
This week, we're focusing on psychedelics, so here are ten trippy songs about LSD, MDMA and magic mushrooms.
10. The Beatles — "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds"
Sample lyric: Picture yourself in a boat on a river/With tangerine trees and marmalade skies/Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly/A girl with kaleidoscope eyes.
John Lennon claims that the imagery in this song is about a picture that his son Julian drew. Uh-huh...so it must be a coincidence that the title can be abbreviated as LSD. What kind of kid draws rocking-horse people eating marshmallow pies, anyway?
9. Jefferson Airplane — "White Rabbit"
Sample lyric: One pill makes you larger/And one pill makes you small/And the ones that mother gives you/Don't do anything at all/Go ask
Alice in Wonderland may be the all-time best example of a drug trip disguised as a children's story — though, for the record, LSD didn't exist in Lewis Carroll's lifetime.
8. Timothy Leary — "How to Operate Your Brain"
This walks a fine line between spoken word and something you'd see at a rave. This video clip is trippy enough to watch sober and get a good sense of Leary's "turn on, tune in, drop out" philosophy.
7. The Moody Blues — "Legend of a Mind"
Sample lyric: He'll fly his astral plane/Takes you trips around the bay/Brings you back the same day/Timothy Leary. Timothy Leary.
Timothy Leary isn't dead; he still uses his astral plane to take you on a trip — or so the Moody Blues say.
6. Jimi Hendrix — "Purple Haze"
Sample lyric: Purple haze all in my brain/Lately things just don't seem the same/Actin' funny, but I don't know why /Scuse me while I kiss the sky.
Purple Haze isn't just a type of marijuana. It can also refer to LSD.
5. Of Montreal — "Lysergic Bliss"
Sample lyric: And I'm dizzy from her kiss so vertiginous lost in lysergic bliss.
4. ATB — "Ecstasy"
Sample lyric: Have you ever noticed that I'm not acting as I used to do before?/Have you ever wondered why I always keep on coming back for more?
Can you picture girls with fuzzy leg warmers and pacifiers twirling lights to this song? Because you should — or just watch the girl writhing around in the video above.
3. Nicki Minaj — "Beez in the Trap"
There are a few ecstasy references in Minaj's songs. "Beez in the Trap" has 2 Chainz saying "got your girl on Molly," and Lil Wayne raps, "Pop a Molly, smoke a blunt, that mean I'm a high roller" in "Roman Reloaded."
2. Xzibit — "Shrooms"
Sample lyric: Yeah, that's some other shit/One of the reasons why George Clinton sees the mothership.
The lyrical content of this song is fairly obvious, just like...
1. Eminem — 'Mushrooms"
Sample /yric: SamI said, 'Wait, first try this hallucinogen/It's better than heroin, Henn, the booze or the gin.
This is the beginning of a very, very bad trip.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.