The Beatles: Psychedelic Songs

The Beatles Top Ten Psychedelic Songs

The Beatles 10 greatest psychedelic songs.

Concentrating on the Acid Drenced Years

The Beatles played so many different styles of music during their career that they are often remembered and thought of completely differently by different groups of people. Some think of the early Beatles and songs like
“She Loves You”, “I Want To Hold Your Hand”, and “Can’t Buy Me Love.” Others may think of mega ballads like “Hey Jude” and “Let It Be” or songs like “Yesterday” and “Here, There, and Everywhere.” Still others may think of the rockers such as “Get Back” and “Revolution.”

And while I actually love all of these types of Beatles songs (and the many other types I didn’t mention!) the songs that really interest me are the Beatles psychedelic songs and that is what this is about.

Many people have different definitions of psychedelic. Some think it’s a genre. I do not. To me psychedelic music is any music which to put it simply “Trips me out.” And by this loose and simple definition I go forward with what I believe to be the 10 greatest psychedelic songs of The Beatles. This list is in no particular order. Choosing just 10 is hard enough without having to order them.

1.Tomorrow Never Knows – The last track on 1966’s Revolver was something of another world. The Beatles were heavily influenced by LSD and also by eastern philosophies by this time and it shows in the music. Tomorrow Never Knows sound is mostly comprised of tape loops, very insistent drums, and backwards guitar. The entire song is on one chord and John Lennon’s voice is distorted and strange. The lyrics are taken from the Tibetan Book of the Dead : “Turn off your mind, relax, and float down stream. It is not dying. It is not dying” the song starts off. It’s still amazing to me to this day that The Beatles went from “She Loves You” to this in two years.

2.I’m Only Sleeping – This song has a very dreamy atmosphere and a backwards guitar solo and outro. “When I’m in the middle of a dream, stay in bed, float up stream.” A very pretty song with lovely harmonies.

3.A Day In The Life – In my opinion perhaps the single greatest song of all time. Beautifully haunting deceptively simple (many thoughtful nuances) verses lead to the amazing dreaminess of “I’d love to turn…. You… on…” and the oncoming insanity. The amount of people this song actually really did turn on is beyond anyone’s ability to count.

4.Within You Without You – The Beatles most fully realized and also their last excursion into Indian music. The Beatles themselves did not play on this track. They wrote the music for real Indian musicians to play. The effect is music that really feels like it’s from another world. The song’s lyrics are also quite psychedelic but my favorite section of the song is actually the instrumental interlude. And the spooky laughter at the end.

5.What’s The Real Mary Jane – Never released until the Anthology series, What’s The Real Mary Jane is an absolutely insane song. This is not much of a “song” in the classic sense of the word but I find it to be a very enjoyable bit of sound to experience. This song can be found on Anthology II.

6.Rain – One of the many great Beatles songs to never appear on a Beatles album. Rain can be found on the Past Masters volume 2 CD. It was originally a B side to Paperback Writer. Rain is one of the first pop songs to use backwards vocals and has possibly the best drumming of any Beatles song. The bass line is also most impressive. Just an awesome song.

7.Strawberry Fields Forever – The legend of this song is long and with good reason. I’m assuming everyone has heard this song before and if you haven’t you better get to it soon. If you haven’t heard it in awhile I suggest putting on some headphones and really listening to everything going on in this track. It’s incredible.

8.I Am The Walrus – Maybe the best example of the sheer lunatic genius of The Beatles at the top of their warped game. I could (and have) listen to this song a 1000 times and still hear something new in it every time. “Pretty Little Policemen In A Row.” My favorite part may be when everything gets phased out during “Sitting in an English Garden…”

9. It’s All Too Much – This song is one of the most overlooked gems in the Beatles catalog and that’s partly why I’m including it now. I’ve always thought this song is absolutely interstellar. The way everything seems to sound like its coming from a floating box but with these giant handclaps. Very hard to describe using these things we call words and that’s why we have to make sound sometimes. One of the most underrated songs in the history of The Beatles. It can be found on the Yellow Submarine album or the vastly superior Yellow Submarine Songtrack that came out many years later.

10.Revolution #9 – I had to include this track. Many hate it of course. And you’ll have a very hard time singing along but I find it extremely interesting. Don’t get me wrong I don’t listen to it every time I put the White Album on but when I am in the mood to listen to it I find it can really take me to another place.

I expect many dissenters with my list and of course I left off many worthy songs such as "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", "Magical Mystery Tour", "Dear Prudence", "Blue Jay Way", and "Flying" but the Beatles wrote so many amazing songs that's to be expected when making a list that's only 10 songs long!