The tidal wave of psychedelic music in the 1960s scared the hell out of many Elvis-loving parents. This was long before punk and heavy metal bands disturbed psychedelic era parents in the 1980s. Here's are some of the scariest songs that enjoyed a fierce competition with the mediocre love songs of the same era.
- "All You Need is Love" by the Beatles What will those commie pinkos think of next? Love is supposed to mean that you want to date, kiss or marry someone. The Beatles placed love in a new context by portraying it as a vehicle of community and global improvement. This is the type of love that throws a wrench in the works of the rat race that the psychedelic music movement didn't seem to enjoy. This song, among many others sung by John Lennon, somehow cramped a lot of people's styles. This became apparent when his FBI files were later made public.
- "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane One of the anthems of psychedelic music, this popular song invokes the dreamlike imagery of "Alice in Wonderland." "White Rabbit" emphasizes the common mandate to "feed your head" through out of the box methods like psychedelic drugs or by simply tuning in and turning on. A common sentiment of psychedelic music is that a person can expand beyond the usual social roles that are created for him and enjoy an authentic meaning and purpose in life. At the time, this often meant dropping out and using psychedelics. The song starts with references to both the mushrooms in Lewis Carol's classic novel and the generation gap. The opening stanza declares that "one pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small, and the ones that mother gives you don't do anything at all. Go ask Alice when she's ten feet tall."
- "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin This classic of the psychedelic music era has, in more recent years, prompted signs in music stores that state "No Stairway to Heaven." Beginning guitar players apparently love to include this song in their repertoire. "Stairway to Heaven" is a vague, colorful and deeply poetic piece about an archetypal goddess woman who is "buying a stairway to heaven."
- "Turn! Turn! Turn!" by the Byrds Psychedelic music was never all about getting high. By the turn of a new decade in 1970, revolution was in the air. This timeless song speaks to those times of rapid change as much as it speaks to us today. Everything has a season: love, hate, peace, war, planting, reaping, psychedelic music, breaking down and mourning. The Byrds illustrated this fact very well.
- "Neon Meate Dream of a Octofish" by Captain Beefheart The 20th century art scene had recurring episodes of surrealism. Psychedelic music often embraced the nonsensical because an authentic life does not fit in a neatly packaged box. Surrealism often illustrates this through the random and strange. Captain Beefheart's song contains a string of seemingly nonsensical phrases such as "fedlocks waddlin' feast" and "whale bone farmhouse." The psychedelic music movement would never have been complete without this evolving masterpiece.