Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, “The Beatles” Edition” where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s and 70’s. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

The Beatles A Day in The LifeA 41-piece orchestra played on this song. The musicians were told to attend the session dressed formally. When they got there, they were presented with party novelties (false noses, party hats, gorilla-paw glove) to wear, which made it clear this was not going to be a typical session. The orchestra was conducted by Paul McCartney, who told them to start with the lowest note of their instruments and gradually play to the highest.

This was recorded in three sessions: first the basic track, then the orchestra, then the last note was dubbed in.

The beginning of this song was based on two stories John Lennon read in the Daily Mail newspaper: Guinness heir Tara Browne dying when he smashed his lotus into a parked van, and an article in the UK Daily Express in early 1967 which told of how the Blackburn Roads Surveyor had counted 4000 holes in the roads of Blackburn and commented that the volume of material needed to fill them in was enough to fill the Albert Hall. Lennon took some liberties with the Tara Browne story – he changed it so he “Blew his mind out in the car.”

Regarding the article about Tara Browne, John Lennon stated: “I didn’t copy the accident. Tara didn’t blow his mind out. But it was in my mind when I was writing that verse.” At the time, Paul didn’t realize the reference was to Tara. He thought it was about a “stoned politician.” The article regarding the “4000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire” was taken from the UK Daily Express, January 17, 1967 in a column called “Far And Near.”

John’s friend Terry Doran was the one who completed John’s line, “Now they know how many holes it takes to fill…” Terry told him “fill the Albert Hall, John.”

McCartney contributed the line “I’d love to turn you on.” This was a drug reference, but the BBC banned it because of another section, which they assumed was about marijuana:

Found my way upstairs and had a smoke
Somebody spoke and I went into a dream


The ban was finally lifted when author David Storey picked it as one of his Desert Island Discs.

Speaking with GQ in 2018, Paul McCartney explained this song’s origin story: “‘A Day In The Life’ was a song that John had started. He had the first verse, and this often happened: one of us would have a little bit of an idea and instead of sitting down and sweating it, we’d just bring it to the other one and kind of finish it together, because you could ping-pong – you’d get an idea. So he had the first verse: ‘I read the news today oh boy,’ and we sat in my music room in London and just started playing around with it, got a second verse, and then we got to what was going to lead into the middle. We kind of looked at each other and knew we were being a little bit edgy where we ‘I’d love to turn you on.’ We knew that would have an effect.

It worked. And then we put on another section I had: ‘Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head.’ Then we finished the song up and did a big sort of epic recording of it with a big full orchestra and everything. And then did that crescendo thing in the middle of it with the orchestra, which was an idea I’d had because I’d been talking to people and reading about avant-garde music, tonal stuff and crazy ideas. I came up with this idea. I said to the orchestra, ‘You should start, all of you.’ And they sat all looking at me puzzled. We’ve got a real symphony orchestra in London who are used to playing Beethoven, and here’s me, this crazy guy out of a group and I’m saying, ‘Everyone start on the lowest note your instrument can play and work your way up to the highest at your own pace.’ That was too puzzling for them, and orchestras don’t like that kind of thing. They like it written down and they like to know exactly what they’re supposed to do. So George Martin, the producer, said to the people, ‘You should leave this note and this point in the song, and then you should go to this note and this note,’ and he left the random thing, so that’s why it sounds like a chaotic sort of swirl. That was an idea based on the avant-garde stuff I was into at the time.”The final chord was produced by all four Beatles and George Martin banging on three pianos simultaneously. As the sound diminished, the engineer boosted to faders. The resulting note lasts 42 seconds; the studio air conditioners can be heard toward the end as the faders were pushed to the limit to record it.

The rising orchestra-glissando and the thundering sound are reminiscent of “Entry of the Gods into Valhalla” from Richard Wagner’s opera “Das Rheingold,” where after the rising glissando, Thor beats with his hammer. George Martin said in his 1979 book All You Need is Earsthat the glissando was Lennon’s idea. After Lennon’s death, Martin seems to have changed his mind. In his 1995 book Summer of Love: The Making of Sgt. Pepper, he states that the rising orchestra-glissando was McCartney’s idea.

This being the last song on the album, The Beatles found an interesting way to close it out. After the final note, Lennon had producer George Martin dub in a high pitched tone, which most humans can’t hear, but drives dogs crazy. This was followed by a loop of incomprehensible studio noise, along with Paul McCartney saying, “Never could see any other way,” all spliced together. It was put there so vinyl copies would play this continuously in the run-out groove, sounding like something went horribly wrong with the record. Another good reason to own vinyl.

In 2004, McCartney did an interview with the Daily Mirror newspaper where he said he was doing cocaine around this time along with marijuana. “I’d been introduced to it, and at first it seemed OK, like anything that’s new and stimulating,” he said. “When you start working your way through it, you start thinking, ‘This is not so cool and idea,’ especially when you start getting those terrible comedowns.”

The movie reference in the lyrics (“I saw a film today, oh boy. The English Army had just won the war”) is to a film John Lennon acted in called How I Won The War.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, “The Beatles” Edition” where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s and 70’s. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

The Beatles Lucy In The Sky With DiamondsThe “Lucy” who inspired this song was Lucy O’Donnell (later Lucy Vodden), who was a classmate of John’s son Julian Lennon when he was enrolled at the private Heath House School, in Weybridge, Surrey. It was in a 1975 interview that Lennon said, “Julian came in one day with a picture about a school friend of his named Lucy. He had sketched in some stars in the sky and called it Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.”

The identity of the real Lucy was confirmed by Julian in 2009 when she died of complications from Lupus. Lennon re-connected with her after she appeared on a BBC broadcast where she stated: “I remember Julian and I both doing pictures on a double-sided easel, throwing paint at each other, much to the horror of the classroom attendant… Julian had painted a picture and on that particular day his father turned up with the chauffeur to pick him up from school.”

Confusion over who was the real Lucy was fueled by a June 15, 2005 Daily Mail article that claimed the “Lucy” was Lucy Richardson, who grew up to become a successful movie art director on films such as 2000’s Chocolat and 2004’s The Life And Death Of Peter Sellers. Richardson died in June 2005 at the age of 47 of breast cancer.

Many people thought this was about drugs, since the letters “LSD” are prominent in the title, and John Lennon, who wrote it, was known to drop acid. In 1971 Lennon told Rolling Stone that he swore that he had no idea that the song’s initials spelt L.S.D. He added: “I didn’t even see it on the label. I didn’t look at the initials. I don’t look – I mean I never play things backwards. I listened to it as I made it. It’s like there will be things on this one, if you fiddle about with it. I don’t know what they are. Every time after that though I would look at the titles to see what it said, and usually they never said anything.”

Lennon affirmed this on the Dick Cavett Show, telling the host, “My son came home with a drawing of a strange-looking woman flying around. He said, ‘It’s Lucy in the sky with diamonds.’ I thought, ‘That’s beautiful.’ I immediately wrote the song about it.”

It’s not just fans that didn’t believe him: Paul McCartney said it was “pretty obvious” that this song was inspired by LSD.

In our interview with Donovan, who was good friends with John Lennon and joined The Beatles on their 1968 retreat to India, he made the point that Lennon often thought in terms of artwork, and like Donovan did on this song “Wear Your Love Like Heaven,” Lennon painted images in his head that became the lyrics for this song. “When we put the painter’s brush down and we picked up the guitar, a lot of the songwriters started ‘painting’ songs,” he said. “You’d just have to think of John’s ‘Picture yourself on a boat on a river’ – you’re actually in a movie or you’re in a painting. ‘Tangerine trees and marmalade skies’ – he’s painting.

The images Lennon used in the song were inspired by the imagery in the book Alice In Wonderland.

George Harrison played a tambura on this track. It’s an Indian instrument similar to a sitar that makes a droning noise. He had been studying with Indian musician Ravi Shankar, who is the father of Norah Jones.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, “The Beatles Edition” where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s and 70’s. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

The Beatles Within You Without You

Although this song is billed as being recorded by the Beatles, George Harrison was the only Beatle to play on the track. There is no guitar or bass, but there are some hand-drums.

Harrison spent weeks looking for musicians to play the Indian instruments used on this. It was especially difficult because Indian musicians could not read Western music.

The laughter at the end was Harrison’s idea to lighten the mood and follow the theme of the album. Some people thought it indicated that the song was included on Sgt. Pepper as a joke.

This is based on a piece by Indian musician Ravi Shankar, who helped teach Harrison the sitar. Harrison wrote his own lyrics and shortened it considerably.

Harrison wrote this as a 30-minute piece. He trimmed it down into a mini-version for the album.This was one of Harrison’s first songs to explore Eastern religion, which would become a lifelong quest. He believed in reincarnation, which helped him accept death in 2001, when he lost his life to cancer.

Oasis covered this for the BBC to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

This is the second Indian classical-influenced song that George Harrison wrote for the Beatles, the first being “Love You To.”

“Now “Within You/Without You” was not a commercial song by any means. But it was very interesting. [George Harrison] had a way of communicating music by the Indian system of kind of a separate language… the rhythms decided by the tabla player.” –Sir George Martin, from the documentary The Material World.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, “The Beatles Edition” where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s and 70’s. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

The Beatles I Am The Walrus

John Lennon wrote this song. As stated in the DVD Composing the Beatles Songbook, John was throwing together nonsense lyrics to mess with the heads of scholars trying to dissect The Beatles songs. They also mention that it’s John’s answer to Bob Dylan’s “getting away with murder” style of songwriting. Lennon told Playboy years later that “I can write that crap too,” which is rarely mentioned in relation to this song.

Lennon explained the origins of this song in his 1980 Playboy interview: “The first line was written on one acid trip one weekend. The second line was written on the next acid trip the next weekend, and it was filled in after I met Yoko. Part of it was putting down Hare Krishna. All these people were going on about Hare Krishna, Allen Ginsberg in particular. The reference to ‘Element’ry penguin’ is the elementary, naive attitude of going around chanting, ‘Hare Krishna,’ or putting all your faith in any one idol. I was writing obscurely, a la Dylan, in those days.”

Lennon got the idea for the oblique lyrics when he received a letter from a student who explained that his English teacher was having the class analyze Beatles songs. Lennon answered the letter; his reply was sold as memorabilia at a 1992 auction. >>

The voices at the end of the song came from a BBC broadcast of the Shakespeare play King Lear, which John Lennon heard when he turned on the radio while they were working on the song. He decided to mix bits of the broadcast into the song, resulting in some radio static and disjointed bits of dialogue.

The section of King Lear used came from Act Four, Scene 6, with Oswald saying: “Slave, thou hast slain me. Villain, take my purse,” which comes in at the 3:52 mark. After Oswald dies, we hear this dialogue:

Edgar: “I know thee well: a serviceable villain, As duteous to the vices of thy mistress As badness would desire.”

Gloucester: “What, is he dead?”

Edgar: “Sit you down, father. Rest you.”

The idea for the Walrus came from the poem The Walrus and The Carpenter, which is from the sequel to Alice in Wonderland called Through the Looking-Glass. In his 1980 Playboy interview, Lennon said: “It never dawned on me that Lewis Carroll was commenting on the capitalist and social system. I never went into that bit about what he really meant, like people are doing with the Beatles’ work. Later, I went back and looked at it and realized that the walrus was the bad guy in the story and the carpenter was the good guy. I thought, Oh, s–t, I picked the wrong guy. I should have said, ‘I am the carpenter.’ But that wouldn’t have been the same, would it?”When Lennon decided to write confusing lyrics, he asked his friend Pete Shotton for a nursery rhyme they used to sing. Shotton gave them this rhyme, which Lennon incorporated into the song:

Yellow matter custard, green slop pie
All mixed together with a dead dog’s eye
Slap it on a butty, ten foot thick
Then wash it all down with a cup of cold sick

The song’s opening line, “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together” is based on the song “Marching To Pretoria,” which contains the lyric, “I’m with you and you’re with me and we are all together.”

The choir at the end sings, “Oompah, oompah, stick it in your jumper” and “Everybody’s got one, everybody’s got one.”

This song helped fuel the rumor that Paul McCartney was dead. It’s quite a stretch, but theorists found these clues in the lyrics, none of which are substantiated:

“Waiting for the van to come” means the three remaining Beatles are waiting for a police van to come. “Pretty little policemen in a row” means policemen did show up.

“Goo goo ga joob” were the final words that Humpty Dumpty said before he fell off the wall and died.

During the fade, while the choir sings, a voice says “Bury Me” which is what Paul might have said after he died.

During the fade, we hear someone reciting the death scene from Shakespeare’s play “King Lear.”

In addition, a rumor circulated that Walrus was Greek for “corpse” (it isn’t) in Greek, so that is what people thought of Paul being the Walrus. Also, in the video, the walrus was the only dark costume.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, “The Beatles” Edition” where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s and 70’s. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Beatles Blue Jay Way

George Harrison wrote this in a house he rented in Los Angeles on a street named Blue Jay Way. He was waiting for his friend Derek Taylor when he came up with the song.

Brian Kehew, who wrote the book Recording The Beatles: The Studio Equipment and Techniques Used to Create Their Classic Albums, tells us that “Blue Jay Way” is the most impressive Beatles song in terms of engineering. Says Brian: “It has phasing, flanging, it has varied speed recording, it has tape echo. They put things through Leslies, they compressed and EQed things. It’s really fascinating, and it has more stuff going on with it that’s more detached from traditional classical recording or a Miles Davis record. It’s more Beatles-y in that way. All the tricks that The Beatles had developed with compressing instruments and with EQing things in very strange ways are present on “Blue Jay Way.”

My favorite part of it, which is really a fascinating concept, they took the track, specifically with the vocals, and then mixed it. That mix was played backwards and recorded back into the record on the multi-track, but they played it through a Leslie speaker that’s spinning in the room. So occasionally during the song you hear some backwards Leslied tracks, especially vocals, swirling in and out. It’s the actual song playing backwards against itself through a Leslie and then fading up and down, which is a really creative and very strange idea. I’ve never heard of anyone else doing something like that.”

The line “Don’t Be Long” is repeated 29 times.

This was used in the Beatles movie Magical Mystery Tour.

The vocals, organ, and drums were played on two tape machines slightly out of sync to get the phasing effect.

When the ending is reversed, it sounds suspiciously like “Paul is bloody.” This added to the “Paul is Dead” hoax.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, “The 27 Club Edition” where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s and 70’s. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

When Jimi Hendrix’s debut album, Are You Experienced? was released in 1967, it turned the music world upside down. With its crackling feedback and ground-breaking guitar playing, Are You Experienced? fused the psychedelic sounds of the late ’60s with the classic traditions of rock, blues and soul.

Released first in the United Kingdom and a few months later in the United States, the album propelled Hendrix to international fame.

Today Are You Experienced? is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential debut releases in rock and roll.

“It’s still a landmark recording because it is of the rock, R&B, blues… musical tradition,” notes Smithsonian musicologist Reuben Jackson. “It altered the syntax of the music, if you will, in a way I compare to, say, James Joyce’s Ulysses. You read a page or two of Ulysses and then you listen to just “Purple Haze,” and you think, my goodness, what is this?”

The recording introduced the world to the guitar virtuosity of Jimi Hendrix. A master at the instrument, he pioneered new techniques in distortion, echo and volume.

“We were experimenting,” says Eddie Kramer, the audio engineer for the album. “That was the exciting part. Whatever he did in the studio we had to just keep up and try to figure out how to record it in a halfway decent fashion.”

But musician Vernon Reid says that Hendrix’s guitar skills have often obscured his other gifts: “I think Jimi’s singing, I think his lyrics have often been given short shrift in consideration of his guitar playing, because his guitar playing is so overwhelmingly powerful. See, there was no dividing line in Hendrix between a song, the improvisation, the singing. It was all one thing.”The question “Are you experienced” was commonly interpreted as Hendrix asking if you have experienced drugs. He said that this song was not necessarily about drugs, but about being at peace with yourself.

Guitar, bass and drums were all played backward as part of the effects. The part at the beginning may have been ahead of its time, as it sounded a lot like the record scratching Hip-Hop DJs began using years later.

Hendrix played the piano on this.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, “The 27 Club Edition” where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s and 70’s. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Janis Joplin

There was only ever one Janis Joplin. No one else could come close. Janis was unique – she was the Queen of Psychedelic Soul.

On 4th October 1970, singer Janis Joplin was found dead at the Landmark Hotel in Hollywood after an accidental heroin overdose. She was only 27 years old.

“Janis Lyn Joplin was an American singer-songwriter who first rose to prominence in the late 1960s as the lead singer of the psychedelic-acid rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company, and later as a solo artist with her own backing groups, The Kozmic Blues Band and The Full Tilt Boogie Band. She was one of the more popular acts at the Monterey Pop Festival and later became one of the major attractions to the Woodstock festival and the Festival Express train tour. Joplin was well known for her performing abilities, and her fans referred to her stage presence as “electric”. At the height of her career, she was known as “The Queen of Psychedelic Soul,” and became known as Pearl among her friends. She was also a painter, dancer and music arranger. ”

Janis Joplin was born in Port Arthur, Texas, on January 19, 1943, to Dorothy Joplin, a registrar at a business college, and her husband Seth Joplin, an engineer at Texaco. Janice was different. As a teenager, she befriended a group of outcasts, one of whom had albums by African-American blues artists Bessie Smith and Leadbelly, and it was while listening to these that Joplin discovered she had an inborn talent to sing the blues.

Joplin graduated from high school in 1960 and attended the University of Texas at Austin, though she did not complete her studies. The campus newspaper The Daily Texan ran a profile of her in the issue dated July 27, 1962, headlined “She Dares To Be Different.” The article began, “She goes barefooted when she feels like it, wears Levi’s to class because they’re more comfortable, and carries her Autoharp with her everywhere she goes so that in case she gets the urge to break into song it will be handy. Her name is Janis Joplin.

Around 1963, Janice left Texas for San Francisco and made some early recordings of blues standards with future Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen. It was also during this period that Joplin’s drug intake increased, topped with heavy drinking sessions.

In 1966, Joplin’s bluesy vocal style attracted the attention of the psychedelic rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company, a band that had gained some renown among the west coast hippie community. Janice became their singer, and the group soon signed a deal and saw their debut album released by Columbia Records in August 1967.

Their breakthrough came with the release of their second album. Cheap Thrills topped the US charts for eight weeks and a star was well and truly born. This was Joplin’s destiny; it’s been said during the recording of the album Joplin was always the first person to enter the studio and the last person to leave. The album captured their raw sound and even included the sounds of a cocktail glass breaking and the broken shards being swept away during the song “Turtle Blues”.

Janice was fast becoming a star. Time magazine called her “probably the most powerful singer to emerge from the white rock movement,” and Vogue stated Joplin was “the most staggering leading woman in rock… she slinks like tar, scowls like war… clutching the knees of a final stanza, begging it not to leave… Janis Joplin can sing the chic off any listener.”

The Lord never did buy Janis a Mercedes-Benz, but in 1968 with the first real money, she made she treated herself to an eye-catching 1965 Porsche Cabriolet Super C – which was pained in bright rivers of yellow, orange, pink, and turquoise with a bloodied American flag on the trunk.

With this success came the usual workload of a heavy touring schedule, TV appearances, and more recording sessions. By early 1969 the singer was allegedly shooting at least $200 worth of heroin per day.

One of her last live performances was at the Concert for Peace at New York’s Shea Stadium with Steppenwolf, Paul Simon, Poco, and Johnny Winter. The concert date coincided with the 25th anniversary of dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.

Janis made her last recordings on October 1, 1970, when she laid down ‘Mercedes Benz’ and a birthday greeting for John Lennon, whose birthday was October 9 (Lennon later told of how her taped greeting arrived at his home after her death). On Saturday, October 3, Joplin attended Sunset Sound Recorders in Los Angeles to listen to instrumental tracks prior to recording her vocals, which were scheduled for the next day. She never returned.

When Joplin failed to show up at Sunset Sound Recorders for the next recording session by Sunday afternoon, producer Paul A. Rothchild became concerned. Full Tilt Boogie’s road manager, John Cooke, drove to the Landmark. He saw Joplin’s Porsche in the parking lot. Upon entering her room, he found her dead on the floor beside her bed. The official cause of death was an overdose of heroin, possibly combined with the effects of alcohol.

On 26 October 1970, a wake was held at Lion’s Share in San Anselmo, California to celebrate the singer’s life. Almost as though she’d had a premonition about her own death, Janis had left $2,500 in her will to throw a wake party in the event of her demise. The party was attended by her sister Laura and Joplin’s close friends. Brownies laced with hashish were unknowingly passed around amongst the guests. Joplin was cremated in the Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Mortuary in Los Angeles; her ashes were scattered from a plane into the Pacific Ocean and along Stinson Beach.

“Flower in the Sun” is a previously unreleased psychedelic rock song by Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin written by founding member, guitarist Sam Andrew.

It appeared in the band’s live sets in 1968, and was recorded during studio sessions that year for their critically acclaimed album, Cheap Thrills. However, although the studio outtake was eventually released as bonus material on more recent pressings, the song was not actually included on the original album. Thus, its first commercial release was a live version (recorded June 23, 1968, The Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA) that appears on the posthumous In Concert album from 1972.

Psychedelic Lunch