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 and 70’s. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Chamber Brothers, Time Has Come Today

The Chamber Brothers Circa 1970
  • This psychedelic soul classic was written by two of the four Chambers brothers, Joe and Willie. Joe wrote most of the lyric after sitting in on a class at UCLA with Timothy Leary and taking LSD. Willie put the music together and contributed the line, “My soul has been psychedelicized.”
  • This song spoke to the younger generation that was fighting for civil rights, social justice and an end to the Vietnam War. The lyrics are somewhat ambiguous, but the constant repetition of the word “Time!” makes it clear that the song is a call to action.
  • The Chambers Brothers were from Mississippi and started out as a gospel act. They wrote this song after relocating to Los Angeles, where they rented a two story house. In a Songfacts interview with Willie Chambers, he explained: “I was down in the dining room area with an acoustic guitar and I was playing that music over and over and over. I kind of got hooked on that line in that melody, but I didn’t have any words. And Joe, at that same time, he was upstairs in his room writing the lyrics to ‘Time Has Come Today.’ He could hear what I was doing down there, and it interrupted his writing.

    He came to the top of the stairs and said, ‘What’s that you’re playing?’

    I said, ‘I don’t know, this riff just came to me and I’m just playing it.’

    He said, ‘You got lyrics to that?’

    ‘No, I don’t have lyrics yet.’

    ‘Man, I was just up there in my room writing and everything I’m writing, the music is going with what I’m writing. At the same time I’m writing it and you’re down here playing it. Well, bring your guitar down.’

    We had a basement in the house and we had a rehearsal studio down there. So, he and I went down in the basement and he started singing these lyrics. And man, the music and the lyrics were made for each other.”
  • The original version was released in 1966 and ran just 2:37. It went nowhere, but they started playing extended versions of the song in their live shows, and when they recorded it on their 1967 album The Time Has Come, it ran 11:06. Many freeform FM radio stations played it from the album (DJs could grab a smoke break while it ran) and in 1968 it was once again released as a single, this time with a running time of 4:45. This is the version that was a hit, going to #11 in the US.
  • The Chambers Brothers started performing “Time Has Come Today” in 1965. The following year, they signed with Columbia Records, whose label boss Clive Davis surprised them by forbidding them to record it. Willie Chambers told the story in his Songfacts interview:

    “After we signed with Columbia Records, there was a big party with all the food and booze and all this stuff. All the important people were there and we got to meet all of the head hogs and Clive was there. He was there for a couple of hours and he says, ‘Well, I must be going, I have other appointments.’ He immediately leans back in the door, ‘Oh, by the way, that song ‘Time Has Come Today’ that you guys do, we won’t be doing that. We won’t do that kind of s–t on this label.’

    That was it, and he walks away. I looked at my brothers, and we were looking at each other like, ‘What the heck?’ And our producer [David Rubinson], he was in tears now – he was crying. He says, ‘I’ve waited my whole life to record this song, now he’s going to tell us we can’t record it. Why?’

    A couple of days went by and our producer came by and said, ‘I don’t give a s–t what he says, we’re going to record that song. When we get our recording date, you guys show up an hour early, we’re going to go in the studio, we’re going to turn on the tape, we’re going to play it live, we’re going to do it like a live performance. We’re going to record it and whatever we get we’re going to have to live with it. We can’t play back, we can’t overdub, we can’t splice, we can’t fix something if there’s a mistake, we’re just going to have to live with it.’ He says, ‘I’m probably going to lose my job, but that’s how important it is to me to record this song.’

    Later on, Joe and I went to Columbia Records to have a pow-wow with Mr. Davis to have him explain to us just why he thought we shouldn’t record this song. We didn’t have an appointment with him, we just showed up. We were six-feet-four tall, angry black guys. So, we walk in to the receptionist and we say, ‘We need to speak to Mr. Davis.’

    ‘Do you have an appointment?’

    ‘No, we don’t but we want to speak to him.’

    We were persistent. So, she calls his office and says, ‘The Chambers Brothers are here, and they say it’s important, they need to talk to you.’

    He says, ‘Well, I’m very busy, I don’t have time.’

    I said, ‘You’re going to take time.’

    So, we kind of forced our way into his office and we said to him, ‘Why can’t we record this song?’ He says, ‘It’s not the kind of music that black guys produce or play.’

    Clive says, ‘You’re four black guys, you’re going to be sending up that stream into the world, ‘Time Has Come Today.’ It’s too profound of a statement for four black guys to be saying to the world.’

    That was his reason. He says, ‘We’ll get a white artist to record the song, it’s not your kind of music.’ My brother Joe says, ‘What do you mean it’s not our kind of music? We wrote this.’

    So, after having that conversation with him, we were ready to do whatever the producer said. We were going to record it anyway.

    When we got our moment, we went in the studio and did it in one take. ‘Time Has Come Today’ was done in one take. There was no listening back – we couldn’t listen back. When we came to the end of it, we had no idea where it was going to go. Once we ended it, we shut down the machines and then we left the studio and came back at the time we were supposed to.

    Clive Davis didn’t find out about it until it had been mixed, prepped and released. When he found out, he fired everybody he could. He fired our producer, I think he fired the guy that opened the door for us. He fired everybody that got involved with recording that song.”
  • In the line, “My soul has been psychedelicized,” the word “soul” can refer to both soul music and to a person’s life-force. “Psychedelicized,” while not in the dictionary, was a popular saying around this time.
  • This song used many unusual production techniques to give it a rich, encompassing sound that made it stand out. There is plenty of echo and reverb along with various sound effects.
  • When the band started playing an extended version of the song live, they whacked a metal bumper guard from an old Plymouth car to simulate the ticking clock. They noticed Latin bands were using cowbells, but they weren’t easy to find in Los Angeles. They finally found one in a store that specialized in Latin music. Lester Chambers played it.
  • Willie Chambers takes credit for dreaming up the extended version of this song. “I was in my room one evening just lying there, and all of this psychedelic music was trying to happen,” he said. “But it didn’t make any sense. It had no rhythm, it had no meaning. It was just a bunch of noise, and they called it psychedelic music.

    I was lying there and that long extended version came into my head. I got excited. I jumped up, I ran to everybody and said, “I’ve got an idea. This is going to be our contribution to psychedelic music. When we get to that one chord right there we’ll just stay there. We’re going to scream. We’re going to have a clock.”
  • Numerous movies and TV shows have made use of this song, including The Doors, Girl, Interrupted and My Name Is Earl.
  • Steve Earle, Bo Bice and The Ramones are among the artists to cover this song.
  • The Chambers Brothers never achieved a Top 10 hit on the Hot 100. They came agonizingly close as this song stalled at #11 for five weeks without ever graduating to the top tier.

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 and 70’s. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

My Green Tambourine By The Lemmon Pipers

The Lemon Pipers were a 1960s psychedelic rock band from Oxford, Ohio, known chiefly for their song “Green Tambourine”, which reached No. 1 in the United States in 1968.

Lyricist Shelley Pinz wrote the words to this song after reading a newspaper article about an elder UK street musician who used a tambourine to collect money as he performed in front of a bank.

The music to this song was written by Paul Leka, whose other claim to fame is the song “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye,” which he wrote and recorded with two other guys and was credited to “Steam,” which was a group they made up to release the song.

This was also recorded by The Peppermint Rainbow, whose lineup included Shelley Pinz, from The Lemon Pipers. The Peppermint Rainbow had a couple of hits, as well: “Don’t Wake Me Up in the Morning, Michael,” and “Will You Be Staying After Sunday.”

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 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