I wish everyone could have experienced, in person like I did, the incredible explosion of music creativity that occurred from 1965 through 1968. Here are my top 10 favorite psychedelic songs from the 1960s. By top 10, I don’t really mean best songs, I mean if I was going on a road trip and could only bring along 10 psychedelic songs, these would be the ones.
1. “I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night”, Electric Prunes (1967). For me, this song practically defines psychedelic rock. Great guitar, great drums, great lyrics, great song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nuOec305SQA
2. “Alone Gain Or”, Love (1967). This song does not appear on most top-100 lists. I Love the Spanish-like guitar and complex instrumentation. (If I allowed more than one song per band, “7 and 7 Is” by Love would also make my top 10). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNcXFy8QTC4
3. “See Emily Play”, Pink Floyd (1967). One of Pink Floyd’s earliest songs, with the original band members. Full-on psychedelic. I have always wondered what musical instruments they used to get some truly unique sound effects. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLQiFlgSVYs
4. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, Beatles (1967). One of the most famous psychedelic songs, from maybe the best music album of all time, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. Very complex musically, maybe not too extreme to call it brilliant. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKXfqpg-Q-k
5. “Incense and Peppermints”, Strawberry Alarm Clock (1967). This song almost takes itself a bit too seriously, but it’s a classic for sure. My guitar instructor in the 1970s was a good friend of the guys in this band and he said they were all cool. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOk2T6Uweao
6. “Itchycoo Park”, Small Faces (1967). The Wikipedia article on this song describes how some of the cool interesting effects were made on this song. It’s all too beautiful. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14ViwvgtvbA
7. “Sit Down, I Think I Love You”, Mojo Men (1967). This song was originally written by and recorded by Buffalo Springfield, one of my favorite bands, but I slightly prefer this cover. Really like the weird stringed instrument sound (no idea what it is). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-e3-yeWxV8
8. “Paper Sun”, Traffic (1967). Close call between this song and “Mr. Fantasy”. I give Paper Sun the edge because it’s a bit more upbeat for a road trip. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cp_3NEWTzU
9. “Paint It, Black”, Rolling Stones (1966). Love the driving drum beat. I often mentally associate this song with the opening of the old TV series “Tour of Duty”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InRDF_0lfHk
10. “Tuesday Afternoon”, Moody Blues (1968). I really like the combination of classical music from the London Symphony with the remarkable Mellotron electronic instrument. Very creative. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEMuAnFH_lM
Comments: “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” (Iron Butterfly, 1968) is iconic but doesn’t make my top 10. “Friday on my Mind”, (Easy Beats, 1966) is a great song, but in my mind, more pop than psychedelic. I like the Doors, but none of their psychedelic songs are among my favorites. I was never a huge Jimi Hendrix fan so I’m not experienced. On another day, well-known songs from Cream (“Sunshine of your Love”), the Yardbirds (“Over Under Sideways Down”), and Jefferson Airplane (“White Rabbit”) would probably have made my list. “White Bird” (It’s a Beautiful Day) is an unusual but interesting song, but a bit too slow-paced for road trip music. “Just Dropped In” (First Edition, 1968) gets put on many worst-of lists, but I like it. “Hush” (Deep Purple, 1968) is one of my all-time favorites but not really psychedelic I think — every time I hear that song I remember my best friend Rob Carroll and I driving around in Anaheim, California. “Sunshine Superman” (Donovan, 1967) is another interesting song but is not something I’d like to hear more than once in a while.