A style of psychedelic music that gained popularity in the late 1960s and early 1970s, psychedelic rock is a subgenre of rock music that contains aspects of psychedelia. The use of ethereal and frequently hallucinogenic sounds, as well as the emphasis on musical experimentation and exploration, define this kind of rock music.
It was more than anything anyone had ever seen. With a mix of folk and electric guitar, many musicians were experimenting with whatever they could. Midway through the 1960s, as a component of the ‘counterculture,’ psychedelic rock initially became popular. It was initially created in response to then-current popular music, which was frequently viewed as being overly commercial.
The genre had elements of other genres such as blues-rock, folk, jazz, and classical music. The lyrics of the songs were also very abstract and dealt with the themes of drug use, spirituality, and exploration.
Here are some songs that defined the Psychedelic Rock Era
Rain by The Beatles
‘Rain’ was released on their 1966 album ‘Revolver‘ and is a classic psychedelic rock song. The song was primarily written by John Lennon and has a distinctively trippy feel with its reverberating guitar and psychedelic lyrics.
According to Far Out, John Lennon accidentally turned his tape machine backward, which led to them incorporating backward singing into their next track. The song has received a lot of positive reviews and is frequently mentioned as a high point of The Beatles’ psychedelic era.
The End by The Doors
This song was originally written as a break-up song. It then became an 11-minute opus and is one of the Door’s most popular songs. It was released on their album ‘The Doors‘ in 1967.
The song “The End” contains existential reflections and grim imagery that gives the listener a view of the band members’ thoughts. With lyrics like “This is the end, beautiful friend, This is the end, my only friend, the end,” it discusses death and the end of life.
It also showed the moment when psychedelic and hard rock combined together. This song is a prime example of how talented Morrison really was.
Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix
This is a classic psychedelic rock song written by Jimi Hendrix. This song has to be one of the most influential songs when it comes to psychedelic rock. The very opening of the song teleports you to the world of psychedelia.
The lyrics, which touch on themes of perplexity, drug usage, and the worry of being misunderstood, take listeners on a trip into Hendrix’s inner world. The song has had an enduring influence on contemporary music, and its status as a key classic in rock history is unquestionable. Its use in movies, television shows, and even in product names demonstrates how it has influenced popular culture.
Two-Headed Dog by 13th-Floor Elevators
13th Floor Elevators are pioneers when it comes to psychedelic rock. The band relied on a lot of echoes which made the sound better in their case. Written by lead vocalist Roky Erickson it is known for its strong garage rock influence too. The band was the prototype for psychedelic rock.
Eight Miles High by The Byrds
The Byrds totally leveled their game up when it comes to psychedelics. Back then Bob Dylan was the voice of everyone, and there was the Byrds following things they loved. The song was actually written as a tribute to jazz legend John Coltrane and mostly has a blend of folk and jazz which features psychedelic elements too.
The song is noteworthy for its inventive usage of fuzz-tone guitar and for being one of the earliest rock tracks to incorporate the sitar. The song has now grown to be of the most well-known and influential psychedelic rock songs ever.
White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane
The song ‘White Rabbit’ was inspired by the classic novel ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and tells the story of Alice’s adventure in Wonderland. As the guitars weave their way through the song, White Rabbit is the ideal illustration of what it sounds like to be on an acid trip.
This song is a major contributor to the psychedelic movement in the US. The song, which is performed from Alice’s point of view and encourages the listener to “feed your head,” serves as a metaphor for the effects of drugs, particularly LSD. Musically, the song is driven by a 12-string guitar and a Hammond organ part. Back then, hippies were happy with the song.
Strawberry Fields Forever by The Beatles
This song will forever be a psychedelic masterpiece. The lyrics were written by John Lennon and were influenced by his memories of growing up in the band’s own Strawberry Field orphanage outside of Liverpool along with some LSD.
The song features a unique mix of sounds with a lot of instruments. In the song, he questions the nature of reality and longs for the simple days of youth. This song is a timeless classic that truly connects with the listener. The song serves as a metaphor for the influence of nostalgia and the serenity derived from fond childhood recollections.
Sunshine of Your Love by Cream
Eric Clapton is the master of guitars. In the song, his guitar sounds very raw and natural at the same time. Sunshine of Your Love is a love song, that talks about a girl whose love shines brighter than the sun.
“This song is a classic of the psychedelic era and is a classic rock song. The song is a slow blues-rock ballad with a soulful vocal from Jack Bruce and a powerful guitar solo from Eric Clapton. With blues and psychedelic elements, it is one of the best songs ever.
In A Gadda Da Vida by Iron Butterfly
This slow and psychedelic 17-minute epic could be intimidating for everyone. But the song captures the spirit of the counterculture movement of the 1960s, with its long and meandering structure and surrealistic lyrics.
We are invited to join Doug Ingle in the drug-addled Garden of Eden. Along with its drum solos and keyboard solos, this song is a masterpiece that gives us closer look into the psychedelic culture.
Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun by Pink Floyd
In stark contrast to the joyful and energizing tone of the band’s other songs, this song is a psychedelic excursion that invokes thoughts of loneliness and sadness. The psychedelia evolved around this time in the late 60s.
The song took a turn towards more progressive rock. Waters has the vocals on the song and does a great job. The song’s distinctive guitar riff, which was greatly influenced by John Coltrane’s music, serves as its focal point. Astrology, the sun, and the concept of suicide are all included in the song’s lyrics.