Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

The Easybeats, Album: Friday On My Mind (1966)

  • This song was co-written by Easybeats guitarists George Young and Harry Vanda, who were the primary songwriters in the group (Young is the older brother of Malcolm and Angus Young from AC/DC). Vanda described the song as reminiscent of the days where the band members lived in hostels in Sydney as “new Australians.” They would hang out for the end of the week because that’s when the fun began.
  • Previously, the band’s main songwriting team had been George Young and lead singer Stevie Wright. Vanda and Young produced The Easybeats’ later albums and after the group broke up in 1969, formed their own group, Flash And The Pan, which had a few successes during the late ’70s and early ’80s. They also continued writing and producing hits for other artists like AC/DC and John Paul Young.
  • This song has quite a buildup. After the opening cymbal crash, its just a staccato guitar for the next 20 seconds underscoring Stevie Wright’s vocal where he runs through the days of the week, explaining why Monday-Thursday don’t excite him. The bass finally comes in as he gets closer to the weekend. Finally, 30 seconds into the song, we hit Friday and the drums come in to play.

    This energy carries into the chorus, where we hear about the plans for the weekend. But then it’s back to Monday, and we do the “five-day drag once more.” This time, however, the tempo is faster and he’s even more optimistic, knowing that his time will come. The second chorus is even more energetic and repeats to close out the song. All of this is packed into 2:47, making it one of the more distinctive and energetic hits of the era.
  • The Easybeats were already huge in their native Australia when they recorded this song, but this was their first hit outside of that country. After scoring several Aussie hits in 1965, they got an international distribution deal in 1966. In the UK, “Come And See Her” was their first single, and in the US, “Make You Feel Alright (Women)” was chosen. Their second single in each territory was “Friday On My Mind,” which was their breakthrough (the song was also a monster in Australia, where it was #1 for eight weeks).

    The group was not able to capitalize, falling victim to drug abuse, management struggles, and internal strife. It was six month before their next single, “Who’ll Be The One,” appeared, and listeners were underwhelmed.
    They never had another US hit and in the UK managed just one more: “Hello, How are You,” which made #20 in 1968.
  • The group recorded this song in London with producer Shel Talmy, who had previously worked with The Who and The Kinks. “They approached me via their then-manager,” Talmy told Songfacts. “I liked what I’d heard, but I didn’t like the songs. So, I said to them, ‘Guys, go home and write a bunch of songs, come back once a week, and play me what you got.’ This went on for about seven weeks. I kept rejecting stuff until after the seventh week I heard ‘Friday on My Mind,’ and I said, ‘That’s the one we’re doing.'”
  • David Bowie did a popular cover on his 1973 album Pin Ups, and Peter Frampton recorded a version for his 1981 album Breaking All the Rules. The only artist to take it back to the charts is Gary Moore, who reached #26 UK with his 1987 rendition.
  • “Friday on My Mind” has been on the minds of Australians since 1967, earning the #1 position on APRA’s list of Ten Best Australian Songs.
  • This was also released as a single by Australian singer Peter Doyle in 1976. He produced an incredibly punchy version, but it was never a hit.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

The Byrds, Mr. Tambourine man. Album: Mr. Tambourine Man (1965)

Bob Dylan wrote “Mr. Tambourine Man,” which was originally released on his fifth album Bringing It All Back Home on March 22, 1965. His version wasn’t released as a single, but when The Byrds released their cover later in 1965, it was a transatlantic hit, topping the charts in both the US and UK. It’s the only song Dylan ever wrote that went to #1 in America (in the UK, Manfred Mann’s cover of “Quinn The Eskimo” also went to #1).

Dylan wrote this on a road trip he took with some friends from New York to San Francisco. They smoked lots of marijuana along the way, replenishing their stash at post offices where they had mailed pot along the way.

The Byrds version is based on Bob Dylan’s demo of the song that he recorded during sessions for his 1964 album Another Side of Bob Dylan (Dylan’s version was not yet released when The Byrds recorded it). It was The Byrds manager Jim Dickson who brought in the demo and asked them to record it – the group refused at first because they thought it didn’t have any hit potential. When The Byrds did record it, they took some lyrics out and added a 12-string guitar lead.

Only three of the five members of the Byrds performed on this song: Roger McGuinn sang lead and played lead guitar; Gene Clark and David Crosby did the vocal harmonies.

Session musicians were brought in to play the other instruments, since the band was just starting out and wasn’t deemed good enough yet by their management. The session musicians who played on this song were the Los Angeles members of what came to be known as “The Wrecking Crew” when drummer Hal Blaine used that term in his 1990 book. This group of about 50 players ended up on many hit songs of the era.

In addition to Blaine, studio pros who played on this song were:
Bill Pitman – guitar
Jerry Cole – guitar
Larry Knechtel – bass
Leon Russell – piano

The Byrds who didn’t play on this one were bass player Chris Hillman and drummer Michael Clarke.

This was the Byrds’ first single. In a 1975 interview with Let It Rock, Roger McGuinn explained how the unrefined sound of this song came about. Said McGuinn: “To get that sound, that hit sound, that ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ sound, we just ran it through the electronics which were available to us at that time, which were mainly compression devices and tape delay, tape-sustain. That’s how we got it, by equalizing it properly and aiming at a specific frequency.

For stereo-buffs out there who noticed that ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ in stereo isn’t really stereo, by the way, that’s because when Terry Melcher, the producer, first started mixing records he didn’t know how to mix stereo, and so he made all the singles up to ‘Turn Turn Turn’ mono. The label is misrepresentative. See, when Columbia Records signed us, they didn’t know what they had. So they gave production to someone low on the totem-pole-which was Terry Melcher who was Doris Day’s son who was getting a token-job-in-the-mailroom sort of thing. They gave him the Byrds and the Byrds were supposed to flunk the test.”This song changed the face of rock music. It launched the Byrds, convinced Dylan to “go electric,” and started the folk-rock movement. David Crosby of The Byrds recalled the day Dylan heard them working on the song: “He came to hear us in the studio when we were building The Byrds. After the word got out that we gonna do ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ and we were probably gonna be good, he came there and he heard us playing his song electric, and you could see the gears grinding in his head. It was plain as day. It was like watching a slow-motion lightning bolt.” (Quote from Bob Dylan: Performing Artist: The Early Years.)

This was inspired by a folk guitarist named Bruce Langhorne. As Dylan explained: “Bruce was playing with me on a bunch of early records. On one session, [producer] Tom Wilson had asked him to play tambourine. And he had this gigantic tambourine. It was, like, really big. It was as big as a wagon wheel. He was playing and this vision of him playing just stuck in my mind.”

Dylan never told Langhorne about it (Bruce had to read about it in the Biograph album liner notes, like the rest of us). He wrote the song and recorded a version with Rambling Jack Elliot that got to the Byrds (known as the Jet Set at the time) before it was ever put on a record.

Dylan claims that despite popular belief, this was not about drugs: “Drugs never played a part in that song… ‘disappearing through the smoke rings in my mind,’ that’s not drugs; drugs were never that big a thing with me. I could take ’em or leave ’em, never hung me up.” >>

This was the first of many Bob Dylan songs recorded by the Byrds. Others include: “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue,” and “Chimes of Freedom.”

The production style was based on The Beach Boys song “Don’t Worry Baby,” which was the suggestion of producer Terry Melcher. Bill Pitman, Leon Russell and Hal Blaine had all played on that Beach Boys song, so it wasn’t hard for them to re-create the sound on this track.

Roger McGuinn: “I was shooting for a vocal that was very calculated between John Lennon and Bob Dylan. I was trying to cut some middle ground between those two voices.” >>

This was the first influential folk-rock song. All of the characteristics of that genre are present, including chorus harmonies, a rock rhythm section and lots of thought-provoking lyrics.

This was discussed in the 1995 movie, Dangerous Minds. In the movie, they talked about the underlying drug references this song might entail… Example: “Mr. Tambourine Man”=Drug Dealer; “Play a song for me”=give me a joint. The basis for this theory was that music was heavily censored at that time, so musicians would share their feelings about drugs and unallowed subject material through coded songs. >>

Although the Byrds didn’t write this or play most of the instruments, they would later write the song “Rock N’ Roll Star,” which made fun of The Monkees for not writing their own songs and not playing their own instruments. >>

In the movie Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Austin Powers (Mike Myers) attempts to play the CD of this album on a record player. >>

While many interpreted the song as a thinly veiled drugs record, McGuinn had other ideas. Having joined the Eastern cult religion Subud just 10 days prior to entering the studio, he saw the song as “a prayer of submission.” McGuinn told The Byrds’ biographer, Johnny Rogan, in 1997: “Underneath the lyrics to ‘Mr. Tambourine Man,’ regardless of what Dylan meant, I was turning it into a prayer. I was singing to God and I was saying that God was the Tambourine Man and I was saying to him, ‘Hey God, take me for a trip and I’ll follow you.'”

He put it this way in 1971 when he spoke with Record Mirror: “To me the ‘Tambourine Man’ was Allah, the eternal life force – it was almost an Islamic concept.”

Chris Hillman admitted to Mojo that he’s never been a fan of The Byrds’ version. “Even though it opened the floodgates, I never liked that track,” he said. “I loved the song, but I never liked the track – it was too slick. I always wonder what would have happened if we cut it ourselves. But in a business sense Columbia were hedging their bets, because we were a pretty crude sounding band then.”

Bob Dylan didn’t make it to Woodstock, but four of his songs did, including “Mr. Tambourine Man,” which Melanie included in her set on the first day. Joan Baez and The Band both did “I Shall Be Released,” and Joe Cocker sang two Dylan songs: “Just Like A Woman” and “Dear Landlord.”

Roger McGuinn admitted to Uncut magazine he was petrified going into the studio to record “Mr. Tambourine Man.” “I was playing with the big boys, the Wrecking Crew. I was so nervous that Hal Blaine kept saying to me, ‘Settle down kid. Why don’t you go out and have a couple of beers?'”

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Wild Thing By The Troggs. Album: Wild Thing (1966)

  • This was written by a songwriter named Chip Taylor, who has made tons of money from it because it has been recorded by many artists and is constantly being used in movies and TV shows. Taylor used a lot of this money to gamble – for years he bet about $10,000 a day and was kicked out of every casino in Las Vegas for card counting. He also wrote “Angel Of The Morning,” which was a hit for Merrilee Rush in 1968. Taylor is the brother of actor Jon Voight and the uncle of Angelina Jolie.
  • The style of music exemplified in this song became known as “Caveman Rock.” The Troggs is short for “troglodyte” (meaning “cave dweller”), which helped bolster this image. Over the next few years, The Troggs moved away from this Neanderthal sound and had a big hit in 1968 the much more evolved “Love Is All Around.”
  • A New York group called Jordan Christopher & The Wild Ones were the first to record this, but their version flopped. That group was best known for their outrageous hairstyles.
  • The Troggs’ first single flopped. For their second single, their producer/manager Larry Page had them choose between “Wild Thing” and The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind.” They went with “Wild,” recording the song using studio time booked for an orchestra session Page was running. When that session ended 45 minutes early and the musicians shuffled out, The Troggs quickly set up and blew through “Wild Thing” and what would be their next hit, “With A Girl Like You,” in about 20 minutes. It was mixed live as they recorded it.
  • The way the song stops and starts up again was inspired by Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel.”
  • When Chip Taylor originally demoed this basic three-chord song in 1965, he didn’t take it too seriously. He later told Rolling Stone magazine: “I was on the floor laughing when I was through.” Taylor added in Mojomagazine September 2008: “‘Wild Thing’ came out in a matter of minutes. The pauses and the hesitations are a result of not knowing what I was going to do next.”
  • This was released simultaneously on Atco and Fontana Records. The Troggs were from England, and sent their manager to the US to make a distribution deal as Fontana (their British label) was initially hesitant to release it in North America. Fontana changed its mind and shortly afterwards, the manager returned with a signed distribution contract with Atco. Because both singles used the same master recording, the compilers of the Billboard Hot 100 decided to combine the two singles (which had different B-sides) into one chart position. It is the only single to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 while being offered on two different labels simultaneously.
  • That crazy whistling instrument in the break is an ocarina, which is an Eastern instrument that dates back thousands of years. The original version of the song recorded by Jordan Christopher & The Wild Ones had whistling in the break, but The Troggs identified the ocarina from the demo they heard of the song and got one to record it. This gave the song a very distinctive sound and was a great talking point for the band. The next hit song to use an ocarina was “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.” by John Mellencamp, which used the instrument as a tribute to this song as part of his pastiche of ’60s rock.
  • In 1967, this was revived as a parody recording by a comedy troupe called The Hardly Worthit Players. Their version ht #20 in the US, and was recorded under the name Senator Bobby. It was a send-up of the popular Senator from New York (and younger brother of President John), Robert F. Kennedy, and loaded with in-jokes about Democratic party politics and RFK’s family. The interplay between “Senator Bobby” and the producer is outlandish. The B-side was a send-up of the popular Senator from Illinois, Everett Dirkson, loaded with in-jokes about Republican party politics. The interplay between the “senator” and the producer on the “response” to “Senator Kennedy’s hit record” is equally funny. The voice of Senator Bobby was James Voight, brother of actor Jon Voight. Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968 while running for President. Everett Dirkson died in 1969.
  • The parody version by The Hardly Worthit Players was one of the last hits for the Cameo/Parkway empire before it went belly-up in early 1969. A former Beatles and Rolling Stones manager bought the original tapes of all product by the company, then changed its name to ABKCO. He still owns the rights and refuses to issue any of them on CD.
  • Five years after The Troggs recorded this, Jimi Hendrix released his version. It was one the few songs Hendrix recorded that he did not write, and it gave the song new life on rock radio stations, as Jimi worked it over in his legendary guitar style. This is the song Hendrix is playing in the Monterey Pop Festival footage where he sets his guitar on fire.
  • Sam Kinison recorded a version of this in 1988 with a video featuring Jessica Hahn, who was famous for her involvement with televangelist Jim Bakker. Also appearing in the video were Slash, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Billy Idol and Tommy Lee.
  • A version by Cheap Trick was used in the 1992 movie Encino Man, starring Brendan Fraser as caveman who comes back to life in a Los Angeles suburb.

    A cover by the punk band X with lead vocals by Exene Cervenka was a big part of the 1989 movie Major League, where Charlie Sheen played Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn, a relief pitcher with control problems who becomes a star when he gets glasses and starts throwing strikes. “Wild Thing” was his theme music, and was copied in real life by Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Mitch Williams, who entered games with the song playing. Williams was known for his reckless, but effective fastball until 1993, when he became known for giving up the home run to Joe Carter that won the World Series.

    It quickly became commonplace for dominant closers to enter the game with a specific theme song playing when they made the trip from the bullpen to the mound. Trevor Hoffman of the San Diego Padres came in to “Hell’s Bells” by AC/DC, and Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankess had Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” as his music.
  • After their first single flopped, The Troggs moved from CBS to DJM, Dick James’ label. Reg Presley recalled to Mojo magazine April 2008 his initial reaction to “Wild Thing”: “There was a guy there (at DJM) called Dennis Berger, who had a heap of demos on his desk. The first one I picked up was Wild Thing. I took a look at the lyric sheet and read: ‘Wild Thing-you make my heart sing-you make everything groovy.’ It seemed so corny, I thought, Oh my God, what are they doing to us! Then I played Chip Taylor’s demo- just guitar and him- and it was incredible. The other boys all liked it too. Chip Taylor later told us our version was just what he wanted.”
  • In the same Mojo interview, Reg Presley recalled the recording of this song at London’s Regent Sound studio: “We recorded Wild Thing and With A Girl Like You at the same session. We had about three quarters of an hour to get our gear set up for them to get a balance, then record and get out. It was at the end of a session Larry Page and his orchestra had booked. Larry was our manager and said we could have any time left over. So we recorded very fast-and for rawness, you can’t whack it.”
  • In 2019, this was used in a commercial for the French perfume company Mon Geurlain to promote its new scent, Intense. Starring Angelina Jolie, the sexy ad shows the actress lounging in bed and getting caught in a rainstorm in Cambodia.
  • The song’s writer, Chip Taylor, cites the versions by The Troggs, Jimi Hendrix and X as his three favorites.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Paul Revere And The Raiders, Kicks. Album: Album: Midnight Ride (1966)

This is believed to be the first anti-drug song. After the Animals had a hit with “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place,” Terry Melcher, who produced the album, asked the song’s writers Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil for something similar for Paul Revere & the Raiders. They sent him this song which they had originally written hoping it would help get a friend off drugs.

Terry Melcher started working with the group after doing production work on The Byrds’ first two albums. In 1968, he rented his house to director Roman Polanski and his wife Sharon Tate. Melcher knew Charles Manson and worked with him on some projects before abandoning them. In 1969, Manson’s “family” killed Tate and four of her friends in Melcher’s house. Melcher became much more secluded after the murders, but did help write The Beach Boys 1987 hit “Kokomo.” He died of cancer in 2004.

The band are famous for performing while dressed in American Revolutionary War soldier uniforms.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Cage The Elephant, Come A little Closer. Album: Melophobia (2013)

This was released as the first single from Cage The Elephant’s third album, Melophobia. Vocalist Matt Shultz told the story of the song to MusicRadar.com. “We were in the Buenos Aires airport, and I saw this amazing flamenco guitarist who was busking,” he recalled. “He had this whole gypsy thing going on. The music he played was very hypnotic and powerful – you could hear the burdens of his heart. I got inspired and grabbed my guitar. I went to the next terminal – there weren’t that many people in this one yet – and I started playing what in my head was Bulgarian folk.”

“I wrote the verse at the airport, inspired by the thought of things appearing different at first and then seeing them in a new light,” Shultz continued. “We went on to San Paulo, and I remember being in my hotel and looking out one morning at this makeshift city on a hill. There were tarps and scrap metal, all of these little boxes with people inside of them. It made me think of an ant hill, but then I also thought, ‘No, wait, these are people living their lives.’ It made me want to look closer. That became the chorus.”

“Once I showed the parts to the band,” Shultz concluded, “we went to a rehearsal studio, pieced everything together, and there was the song. But it all started in that airport in Buenos Aires. Funny how that works sometimes.”

Guitarist Lincoln Parish told Loudwire how the song came together: “After we had written it, we liked it when we first wrote it. But then we went and demoed it in my studio and we kind of felt like polka,” he explained. “The verse had a different feel and beat to it. Kind of a polka feel. Then we listened to it back and were like, I don’t even think we ended up turning that version of the demo in to management, we weren’t that happy with it. We just let it sit and then we were back in the studio with Jay (Joyce, producer), it wasn’t even a song that we were trying to cut. Then he was like, well what other songs can we do? Towards the last little bit we were kind of, well what songs do we have left to cut? Or what songs do we want to cut and not cut. We decided and Jay was like, we should do this one. We’re like yeah, but the verse, we didn’t like the feel. He was like, figure it out. So, we just sat around and actually just dumbed it down and made it a little more simple than it was originally. The chorus is the same, but the verse changed as far as making it more straightforward and simple.”

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Album: Blonde on Blonde (1966)

Mobile is a town in Alabama that is known for folk music, while Memphis, Tennessee is known for blues and rock.

A few different characters show up in the narrative, starting with “the ragman.” Dylan did offer a rare song interpretation when he told Robert Shelton, author of No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan, that the ragman is Satan. Many of Dylan’s lyrics are filled with biblical images, but shrouded in inscrutable stories.

It is often said that Dylan “found God” in the ’80s, but the Bible and God have been running through his work in a very serious way ever since the very beginning. Dylan later said that if he had to “do it all again,” he’d teach theology or ancient Roman history.

Dylan session artist Al Kooper’s memoir, Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards , tells many fun anecdotes of the time around the recording of Blonde on Blonde. Anecdote the first: He was delayed on his way to Nashville for the first day of recording with Dylan, due to a night with some lady fans. So he delayed the plane the next morning while he came riding up beside it in a jeep. He boarded literally minutes before the plane’s wheels would have left the runway, only to turn around and discover that this flight had originated in New York and was half-full of people who knew him.

Kooper Anecdote the second: He was on foot in the city when a gang of thugs started chasing him with the idea of beating him up. He ducked into a bookstore and called to Dylan’s manager, Al Grossman, from a phone booth (remember this was in the day before mobile phones). Al Grossman dispatched Lamar Fike, a bodygaurd who had also worked for Elvis, to the scene in a Cadillac to retrieve Kooper from his imminent curb-stomping, thoroughly freaking out the thugs in the process.

Kooper Anecdote the third: one of the session players for Blonde on Blonde was a keyboard player named “Pig,” who happened to be blind. On a night when the band was drinking and blowing off steam, winding around the streets of Tennessee, they decided to let Pig drive. Pig was doing quite well, supplemented by directions from the passengers, until the Highway Patrol pulled them over.

Some notable uses of this song include the opening credits of I’m Not There, both the film and book version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas play it and mention it, respectively, and the various Grateful Dead covers throughout the ’60s and ’70s.

One of the lines in the song was inspired by “I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground,” by Bascom Lamar Lunsford. Lumsford, who was known as the “minstrel of the Appalachians,” wrote:

‘Cause a railroad man they’ll kill you when he can
And drink up your blood like wine

Which compares closely with Dylan’s:

Mona tried to tell me
To stay away from the train line
She said that all the railroad men
Just drink up your blood like wine

Mona tried to tell me/To stay away from the train line/She said that all the railroad men/Just drink up your blood like wine/And I said, “Oh I didn’t know that/But then again there’s only one I’ve met/And he just smoked my eyelids/And punched my cigarette

Attempting to ascribe specific meanings to Bob Dylan lyrics is most often a fool’s errand. As with abstract paintings or films like 2001: A Space Odyssey or TV shows such as Twin Peaks, everyone who experiences a Dylan song comes away with his or her own unique understanding of what was being communicated and to what it all might (or might not) add up. 

As part of the 1966 landmark Blonde on Blonde, speculation over “Stuck Inside of Mobile” often suggests the sprawling words and Ferris Wheel structure of the song relate to Dylan’s revolutionary “going electric” at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival.

The idea, it’s been said, is that Mobile, Alabama could represent old-style, acoustic music, while Memphis had forever been transformed by the plugged into rock of Elvis Presley. 

All that comes close to being likely is that Dylan makes reference to an age-old mountain ballad titled “I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground” that contains the words, “I don’t like a railroad man/A railroad man, he’ll kill you when he can/And he’ll drink up your blood like wine.”

As for the smoking of an eyelid and punching of cigarettes: that’s just Bob Dylan for you.

Psychedelic Lunch

There’s something to be said for the curious art of bands hiding hidden messages, and even entire songs on their recordings.

From The Beatles arguably being the first to introduce the idea in the late 60s, to the accusations of evil messages hidden in the songs of seventies rock bands; right through to the popular 90s tradition of tucking away hidden tracks at the tail-end of a CD’s running time – it’s always been a particularly physical phenomenon.

It’s also something that’s harder to achieve in the digital era, so sit back and enjoy as we uncover the more interesting hidden stories and messages, the secret and not-so-secret things that musicians have attempted to bury.

Guns N’ Roses – ‘Look At Your Game Girl’

While hidden tracks are a left-field move for any band, covering a song by a convicted murderer and cult leader goes beyond contrariness. But that’s exactly what Guns N’ Roses did with the Charles Manson-penned ‘Look At Your Game Girl’, which appeared hidden away on their 1993 album The Spaghetti Incident; and it almost seems wrong to say, but the original is better.

Led Zeppelin – ‘Stairway To Heaven’

In 1982, a US television program alleged that hidden messages were contained in many popular rock songs through a technique called backward masking. The cited example was ‘Stairway To Heaven’, which the show claimed included satanic references. The alleged message occurs during the song’s middle section (“If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow…”). Which very loosely translated to: “Oh here’s to my sweet Satan. The one whose little path would make me sad, whose power is Satan. He will give those with him 666. There was a little tool shed where he made us suffer, sad Satan.”

You Am I – ‘Forget It Sister’

Widely considered one of the finest Australian albums of all time, Hourly, Daily is a sprawling tour of suburban Sydney through the eyes of the laconic Tim Rogers. One of the album’s highlights is the hidden track, ‘Forget It, Sister’ which arrives after a few minutes of silence following the closer, ‘Who Takes Who Home’. Unexpectedly, Rogers chimes in with “good morning baby” bringing the record full circle to the early hours, and opening “Good Mornin” – an ode to breakfast radio.

Nirvana – ‘Endless, Nameless’

The nihilistic squall of this hidden track, buried at the quintessential grunge band’s iconic Nevermind showcases Kurt Cobain’s love for the Pixies’ style dynamics – but without his usual interest in pointed pop melodicism. Instead it’s a crash and bash of tuneless distortion, and feverish squeals of nonsense. If ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ broke Nirvana into the mainstream, ‘Endless, Nameless’ was a reminder that Kurt and co. were still noisy rebels at heart.

The Beatles – ‘Her Majesty’

Rounding off 1969’s Abbey Road is ‘Her Majesty’, a Paul McCartney ditty that appears 14 seconds after ‘The End’, the album’s last listed song. At less than 30 seconds long, there’s not much going on – it’s just Paul, acoustic guitar, a lovely vocal melody, and some amusing lyrics including “Her majesty’s a pretty nice girl / but she doesn’t have a lot to say”. In fact, the Fab Four are often credited with inventing the secret track phenomenon, with the sound collage at the end of Sgt. Pepper’s that loops infinitely on vinyl players.

The Jam – ‘English Rose’

While Paul Weller spent the ’80s revelling in his newfound feminine side with The Style Council, he wasn’t always so comfortable with such outward displays of sensitivity. So goes the story behind ‘English Rose’, a beautiful acoustic ballad that appears on side one of 1978’s All Mod Cons. While it plays conventionally as track four on all copies of the record, its obscurity is owed to the fact neither the song’s title nor lyrics were printed on the sleeve because Weller believed it was too personal.

Blur – ‘Me, White Noise’

The hidden track from the Britpop luminaries’ last studio album before their hiatus, 2003’s Think Tank, recalls one of their most famous collaborators, the voice behind ‘Parklife’ and mod icon, Phil Daniels. Entitled ‘Me, White Noise’, the song appears in the pre-gap (the portion of audio before track one). Clocking in at nearly seven minutes, Damon Albarn spits gravel over a midnight dance beat. Those desperate for Blur rarities would do well to check this out.

Eels – ‘Mr E’s Beautiful Blues’

Mark Oliver Everett and his musical outfit had a minor hit in 2000 with ‘Mr E’s Beautiful Blues’, reaching number #11 on the UK Singles chart. The lead single from their third record Daisies Of The Galaxy, the band threw fans a curve ball by leaving it off the track listing on original pressings of the album. Which means that the song may be the most commercially successful hidden track ever. Sneaky stuff.

Tool – ‘10,000 Days’

It’s one thing to hide a song in the pre-gap of an album, or bury at the end; but the hidden track on Tool’s 10,000 Days is a wildly different (and more inventive) proposition. Essentially, it’s a DIY secret that only enterprising Tool fans (is there any other kind?) will be able to piece together. Joining ‘Wings of Marie’ and ‘Vigniti Tres’ together, and then playing them alongside the 11- minute title track, reveals a densely layered epic. Cryptic and clever, huh?

Pink Floyd – ‘Empty Spaces’

Isolated on the left channel of this track from the classic Pink Floyd album The Wall is a secret message. When played backwards, Roger Waters’ voice appears saying: “Congratulations, you have just discovered the secret message. Please send your answer to Old Pink, care of the Funny Farm, Chalfont.” A clever nod to the music world’s obsession with ‘satanic messages’ hidden in popular music.

Public Enemy – ‘Ferocious Soul’

Hidden in the gap before the opening track of the furious rap group’s 1994 album Muse Sick-n-Hour Mess Age is ‘Ferocious Soul’. A cutting freestyle attack on those who claimed Public Enemy were “anti-black” for criticising the “negative message” of gangster rap, it’s scathing stuff. It ends with a blunt message that leads into the album proper; “Don’t fuck with me.”

Franz Ferdinand – ‘Michael’

Played forwards, “Michael” is a risqué indie-rock song about a secret bromance, notable for lyrics such as “stubble on my sticky lips”, and “beautiful boys on a beautiful dance floor”. Played backwards however, there’s a secret message, with a voice saying: “She’s worried about you, call your mother.” According to a fan site, the message is a homage to bassist Bob Hardy, who was worried about calling his mum back home while on tour.

The Clash – ‘Train In Vain’

Given its popularity in the canon of Clash songs, it’s hard to believe ‘Train In Vain’ was not in fact originally listed on the band’s 1979 opus London Calling. It’s a little-known fact that instead, a sticker was attached to the cellophane wrapper on the record. This was because the song was added to the album at the last minute, after the sleeve had been produced.

Radiohead – In Rainbows and OK Computer

Deep within Radiohead circles, it’s believed that In Rainbows was released as a complementary piece to the Oxford quintet’s landmark 1997 album, OK Computer. The conspiracy goes that In Rainbows came out 10 years after OK Computer and was released on October 10 (10/10). Fans believe if you create a playlist, alternating between the two albums and crossfading, they mesh perfectly.

Some of the best hidden tracks and messages in famous songs

It must have been odd to hear Led Zeppelin in church, particularly one of the Fundamentalist Christian persuasion, but in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, youth pastors around the country began playing “Stairway to Heaven” in services, to illustrate the Satanic messages they claimed the band had hidden in the song.

These messages could be heard when playing the song backward, they said, but the subliminal effect of the messages was said to be just as potent, even when the song was played in the usual direction, at regular speed.

Ridiculous, huh? There was, however, definitely a market in religious books, films and presentations in that period on the issue of backmasking — the alleged planting of subliminal messages in recordings, usually for dark purposes. It caused preachers and kids alike to ruin the belt drives on their turntables playing Led Zeppelin IV and dozens of other records backward.

Where did this stuff begin? Not entirely surprisingly, famed occultist and Fundamentalist bugaboo Aleister Crowley is credited with starting the whole thing. In his 1913 treatise on meditation, Magick: Book 4, Crowley promoted the idea of “listen[ing] to phonograph records, reversed,” to train one’s brain to think backward. Subsequently, avant-garde composers such as John Cage and Edgard Varèse (a favorite of Frank Zappa) used reversed tape effects in their versions of musique concrète, or experimental music that used recorded sounds as quasi-instrumentation.

In rock ‘n’ roll, the effect became an important tool for experimentation in the late ‘60s, as musicians began using the studio to explore sounds that were more radical than the typical guitar/drums/bass/keyboard setup. The Beatles were probably the granddaddies of using tape effects — John Lennon was an unabashed fan of avant-garde artists, and incorporated their techniques first on “Tomorrow Never Knows,” the final song on 1966’s Revolver, and all through 1967’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

That experimentation, coupled with the elevated place the Beatles had in popular culture, led listeners to do odd things to their Beatles records. A widely believed urban legend that Paul McCartney had died sent some fans looking for clues in the music. Of course, they found what they were looking for; playing the “Number 9” segment of the White Album’s “Revolution 9” backward yielded a sound that resembled “Turn me on, dead man.” Backward spins of “I’m So Tired” led fans to hear “Paul is dead. Miss him, miss him.”

These were unintentional sounds made when one played the record in an unintended fashion. People heard what they wanted to hear, or what others suggested they hear.

Meanwhile, around the same time, Jimi Hendrix was making Electric Ladyland, an album that opened with “And the Gods Made Love,” a track that intentionally incorporated backmasking. Play the garbled voice on the song backward, and you hear Hendrix say, “Yes, yes, yes, I get it. Okay, one, okay, one more time.”

At some point in the next decade or so, Fundamentalist preachers took up backmasking as an example of Satanic influence in rock music, another method the pointy-tailed one used to degrade the morals of vulnerable youth, right under the noses (and ears) of their unsuspecting parents.

For example, fans of Electric Light Orchestra who bought 1974’s Eldorado for “Can’t Get It Out of My Head” would have allegedly received a Satanic message, had they flipped the album over and played the title track. Those with ears for these things played the lines “Here it comes, another lonely day / Playing the game. I’ll sail away / On a voyage of no return to see” backward and heard “He is the nasty one — Christ you’re infernal — It is said we’re dead men — Everyone who has the mark will live.”

he Eagles’ 1976 hit “Hotel California,” one of the seminal songs of the decade, is said to have hidden in its first verse and chorus a message that includes “Satan had ‘em; he organized his own religion.”

Styx were accused of implanting a Satanic message (“Satan move in our voices”) in “Snowblind,” off 1981’s Paradise Theatre. That controversy provided the seed of an idea that led Dennis DeYoung to create the character of Dr. Righteous in 1983’s Kilroy Was Here, and to plant an intentional backmasked message in “Heavy Metal Poisoning.”

Cheap Trick, not exactly avowed devil worshipers, were said to have injected the message “Satan holds the keys to the lock” in their song “Gonna Raise Hell.”

Not all supposed backmasking was in praise of the devil. Queen’s international hit “Another One Bites the Dust” was said to contain a message encouraging listeners to “Decide to smoke marijuana.”

Not to be outdone by other artists allegedly doing creepy things on their records, Pink Floyd put a congratulatory message in “Empty Spaces,” on The Wall.

The whole thing got so silly, even “Weird Al” Yankovic got into the act, intentionally backmasking the message “Satan eats Cheez Whiz” on his 1984 album cut “Nature Trail to Hell.”

Accusations of backmasking reached a heated and tragic pitch in 1990, when Judas Priest were taken to court over the accusation that their lyrics and embedded backward messages had driven two fans to suicide. Attorneys argued that they heard the words “do it” in the song “Better by You, Better Than Me.”

Priest were exonerated of the charges; the band’s defense had proved their culpability so untenable as to cast backmasking from the courtroom back to the pulpit.

And thought there are still some who continue to find evil or naughty hidden messages in today’s pop music (Lady Gaga and Britney Spears, in particular, stand accused), the issue remains relegated to the minds of those who want to hear what they want to hear in a bunch of backward noise. In the end, that’s probably where the issue belongs.

Hidden Secret Messages On Vinyl

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Steely Dan, Album: Gold 1982

You know the story: a band goes in the studio to record tracks for an album only to find out they recorded more than what they needed for that album, so they leave one or two tracks off it. You’ve also seen this play out: a major act comes out with a blockbuster album, so the label seeks to cash in by rushing out a “greatest hits” compilation while they wait for the band’s delayed follow-up. And if they find any worthwhile, unreleased tracks still laying around, they’ll put that out, too.

I mention these two common occurences, because they are both at the center of the story for this fine, overlooked odds ‘n’ ends track by Steely Dan, “Here At The Western World.”

This tune was part of the sessions that produced 1976’s The Royal Scam, but for some reason, it got left on the cutting room floor. It stayed on the floor for Steely Dan’s next album, their signature record Aja (1977). When it became evident to their record company ABC Records that there would be no “1978″ Steely Dan record, ABC promptly created their own by putting out a Greatest Hits Album, a compilation that oddly includes “East St. Louis Toodle-Oo” and not “Deacon Blues,” or the current Dan hit at that time, “FM.” But they did find a home for “Here At The Western World.”

The theme of this song is a favorite of Walter Becker and Donald Fagan’s: a darkly sarcastic look at drug-addled depravity they saw in contemporary America, a theme they would visit time and time again (“Babylon Sisters,” “Jack Of Speed”). This time, the object of illicit desire is most likely cocaine (“we’ve got your skinny girl”), as well as prostitution. Once again, Becker and Fagan do a masterful job painting vivid imagery in hip lingo without explicitly explaining what is being sung about, but you certainly get the general idea.

Sonically, I kind of get why this didn’t make it on The Royal Scam; it’s not because the track is a clunker because it actually would have rated as one of the better tracks on that album. No, it just wouldn’t have fit so well on a record that was dominated by either reggae vibes or Larry Carlton’s hard rocking guitar. “Here At The Western World,” with it’s sultry backup female vocals and urbane, note-perfect production in retrospect sure seems like a harbinger of what was coming the following year. It’s so tantalizingly close to that jazz-pop nirvana Aja, it could have been tacked on to that album and probably no one would notice that it came from an earlier session. Fagan supplies the lead vocals, as usual, but the rest of the chores were left to crack session musicians like Dean Parks, Chuck Rainey and Bernard Purdie.

ABC Records, who very shortly afterwards became gobbled up by MCA Records, may have been looking for a way to make a quick buck, but by rescuing “Here At The Western World” from obscurity, they did Steely Dan fans a favor. It may not have been truly a “greatest hit,” but most other bands would kill to have outtakes like that one.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Jimi Hendrix, Album: Are You Experienced? (1966)

“Hey Joe”, The Jimi Hendrix Experience (1966)

“Hey Joe” is simultaneously one of Hendrix’ iconic tracks that nevertheless sees him threatening violence and death against an allegedly-cheating woman, with the lyrics, “I’m going down to shoot my old lady / You know, I caught her messing around with another man.””Hey Joe” was written by a singer named Billy Roberts, who was part of the Greenwich Village folk scene in the early ’60s. The song is structured as a conversation between two men, with “Joe” explaining to the other that he caught his woman cheating and plans to kill her. They talk again, and Joe explains that he did indeed shoot her, and is headed to Mexico.

Billy Roberts copyrighted this song in 1962, but never released it (he issued just one album, Thoughts Of California in 1975). In 1966, several artists covered the song, including a Los Angeles band called The Leaves (their lead singer was bassist Jim Pons, who joined The Turtles just before they recorded their Happy Together album), whose version was a minor hit, reaching #31 in the US. Arthur Lee’s group Love also recorded it that year, as did The Byrds, whose singer David Crosby had been performing the song since 1965. These were all uptempo renditions.

The slow version that inspired Hendrix to record this came from a folk singer named Tim Rose, who played it in a slow arrangement on his 1967 debut album and issued it as a single late in 1966. Rose was a popular singer/songwriter for a short time in the Greenwich Village scene, but quickly faded into obscurity before a small comeback in the ’90s. He died in 2002 at age 62.

This is the song that started it all for Hendrix. After being discharged from the US Army in 1962, he worked as a backing musician for The Isley Brothers and Little Richard, and in 1966 performed under the name Jimmy James in the group Jimmy James and the Blue Flames. Hendrix introduced “Hey Joe” to the band and added it to their setlist. During a show at the Greenwich Village club Cafe Wha?, Chas Chandler of The Animals was in the audience, and he knew instantly that Hendrix was the man to record the song.

Chandler convinced Hendrix to join him in London, and he became Jimi’s producer and manager. Teaming Hendrix with Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell, Chandler had the group – known as The Jimi Hendrix Experience – record “Hey Joe,” and released it as a single in the UK in December 1966. It climbed to #6 in February 1967, as Hendrix developed a reputation as an electrifying performer and wildly innovative guitarist.

America was a tougher nut to crack – when the song was released there in April, it went nowhere.

The song incorporates many elements of blues music, including a F-C-G-D-A chord progression and a story about infidelity and murder. This led many to believe it was a much older (possibly traditional) song, but it was an original composition.Hendrix played this live for the first time at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. It was the first time the group performed in America.

This was released in Britain with the flip side “Stone Free,” which was the first song Hendrix wrote for The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

The song was released in the UK on the Polydor label in a one-single deal. Hendrix then signed to the Track label, which was set up by Kit Lambert, producer for The Who.

Dick Rowe of Decca Records turned down Hendrix for a deal, unimpressed with both “Hey Joe” and “Stone Free.” Rowe also turned away the Beatles four years earlier.

This is one of the few Hendrix tracks with female backing vocals. They were performed by a popular trio called the Breakaways (Jean Hawker, Margot Newman, and Vicki Brown), who were brought in by producer Chas Chandler.

The Hendrix version omits the first verse, where Joe buys the gun:

Hey Joe, where you goin’ with that money in your hand?
Chasin’ my woman, she run off with another man
Goin downtown, buy me a .44

In the original (and most versions pre-Hendrix), Joe also kills his wife’s lover when he catches them in bed together.

This was the last song performed at Woodstock in 1969. The festival was scheduled to end at midnight on Sunday, August 17 (the third day), but it ran long and Hendrix didn’t go on until Monday around 9 a.m. There weren’t many attendees left, but Hendrix delivered a legendary performance.

While Jimi’s version is by far the most famous, “Hey Joe” has been recorded by over 1000 artists. In America, three versions charted:

The Leaves (#31, 1966)
Cher (#94, 1967)
Wilson Pickett (#59, 1969)

Hendrix is the only artist to chart with the song in the UK, although a completely different song called “Hey Joe” was a #1 hit there for Frankie Laine in 1963.

Some of the notable covers include:
Shadows of Knight (1966)
Music Machine (1966)
The Mothers Of Invention (1967)
Deep Purple (1967)
King Curtis (1968)
Roy Buchanan (1973)
Patti Smith (1974)
Soft Cell (1983)
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (1986)
The Offspring (1991)
Eddie Murphy (1993 – yes, the comedian)
Walter Trout (2000)
Popa Chubby (2001)
Robert Plant (2002)
Brad Mehldau Trio (2012)

The liner notes for Are You Experienced? say this song is “A blues arrangement of an old cowboy song that’s about 100 years old.”

The phrase “Hey Joe” is something men in the Philippines often shout when they see an American. Ted Lerner wrote a book about his experiences there called Hey, Joe: A Slice Of The City-An American In Manilla.

In an early demo version, Hendrix is caught off guard by the sound of his voice in the headphones, and can be heard on the recording saying, “Oh, Goddamn!” Then telling Chas Chandler in the booth, “Hey, make the voice a little lower and the band a little louder.” Hendrix was always insecure about his vocal talents, but thought if Dylan could swing it, so could he.

6,346 guitarists played “Hey Joe” simultaneously in the town of Wroclaw, Poland on May 1, 2009, breaking a world record for most guitarists playing a single song.

The BBC apologized after “Hey Joe” was played following a report on the Oscar Pistorius trial, following the disabled athlete’s shooting of his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. (The song includes the lines: “Hey Joe, where you going with that gun in your hand? I’m going out to shoot my old lady, you know I caught her messing around with another man.”)

This was one of five bonus tracks added to the album Are You Experienced? when it was re-released in 1997. The only song on the album not written by Hendrix, it is credited to Billy Roberts.

Not much is known about the song’s writer Billy Roberts, who apparently got in a car accident in the ’90s that left him impaired. Royalties from this song go to him through the publisher Third Palm Music.

This was used in the 1994 movie Forrest Gump when Forrest starts a fight at a Black Panthers gathering, but the song wasn’t included on the official soundtrack.

Psychedelic Lunch