Friday, February 19, 2010

High on music

Jim Morrison pretty much summed up the hippie era when he said, "I like ideas about the breaking away or overthrowing of established order. I am interested in anything about revolt, disorder, and chaos, especially activity that seems to have no meaning. It seems to me to be the road towards freedom - external freedom is a way to bring about internal freedom."

The hippies were many different things. But the one thing that brought them together was music. Their music was greatly characterized by use of brilliant colors, hallucinogenic images, and free style under the influence of mind altering experiences of psychedelic drugs. The psychedelic music styles came in different forms like, rock, trance, soul, folk and others.

It all began when in the 60s many folk and rock musicians began to produce music under the influence of drugs like LSD and marijuana to disconnect themselves from reality. Musicians experimented with various instruments ranging from electric guitar to the sitar to tabla, organs and Mellotron; produced varied studio effects, did bizarre setups and wrote surreal and esoteric or even biting political lyrics. The psychedelic music reflected the counterculture of the '60s.

The 60s, especially, between 1963 and 1966, was a very volatile period and especially so in music. The complacent rock n'roll broke into three main genres: there was the Bob Dylan kind of socio-political songs, then there were bands that delved in studio techniques and odd arrangements like The Beatles and then there were the bands that were loud and created musical mayhem with their songs and the use of instruments like the Rolling Stones and the Who. 

Jefferson Airplane was the epitome of psychedelic rock bands and their singles like White Rabbit and Somebody to Love established psychedelic rock songs as a musical genre. When The Beatles came onto the scene they took over this genre like a storm and gave the immortal Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Strawberry Fields Forever.

The Rolling Stone’s answered that with Their Satanic Majesties Request and then Pink Floyd came out with their best psychedelic work with The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and Astronomy Domine among many others.

No psychedelic rock band talk is incomplete without the mention of The Grateful Dead. With their free form and improvisation of jazz as rock music, it made them one of the greatest of all psychedelic rock bands. Another great songwriter and musician of this time was Bob Dylan. Although he was more of a protest songwriter, yet he had the knack of combining surrealist imagery with pop music and so became an inspiration to many psychedelic bands.

The 1960s was a time of musical revolution. Till the mid 60s, rock was a genre that was on the borderline with the blues. In fact, the music of the hippies essentially came from folk rock. But all that changed with the entry of psychedelic rock music. Weird sounds, drug inspired lyrics, eccentric fashion etc paved the way for psychedelic rock. With the arrival of psychedelic rock, other forms like hard rock, heavy metal, progressive rock, and other rock forms were just waiting to knock on the door.

No comments:

Post a Comment