“April, come she will When streams are ripe and swelled with rain May, she will stay Resting in my arms again
June, she’ll change her tune In restless walks she’ll prowl the night July, she will fly And give no warning to her flight
August, die she must The autumn winds blow chilly and cold September, I’ll remember A love once new has now grown old”
S&G are quite hit-and-miss for me. Either I love a given song, or I can’t stand it. I love the April song. On the surface you listen and it’s just about the changing of the seasons and then suddenly in the last line he’s thinking of a girl.
Well, then I read the lyrics and he’s talking about the girl the whole time. It’s sexual at the start, right down to the “come she will”, the mention of ripeness and swelling, and of course the first 3 months are female names. Right. And then August is typically a male name. Maybe they fell apart because good ‘ol boy August entered the pictures. And then you can kind of relate it back to the weather again, because that hot bastard August is always the beginning of the end 😁
Jokes aside, it’s expert songwriting and a beautiful tune.
I should do more of this. It gets me out of Journaling (which I am decidedly not always in the mood to do) and the effort of all the copy and paste action, plus a couple thoughts, is enough time to complete a blog n eat.
I’m pleased that I behaved myself last night and also checked off all the boxes on things I wanted to get done.
Day jobs are a problem for night owls. The problem with working is the way it cuts into your passion when you finally rediscover your groove.
There’s the need to sleep for work the next day on those moonlit nights; the need to be functional the next day when you’d love to stay up all night.
There’s a giant park 15 minutes away from where I live, featuring 2 miles of paved walking trails that circle around soccer and baseball fields.
Lots of greenspace, expansive rolling hills, trees line the perimeter and giant lamps cast florescent light down over the sports fields at night. Smaller streetlamps hover above the paved walking path.
It’s glorious in the setting sun and even better at night under the electric lights in the evening.
Tonight I rushed along this path, feet hitting the ground – pat pat pat – staring down at the glittering pavement while listening to my circus of music.
It’s autumn and the yellow moon emerged, framed by wispy clouds right as the sun sank below the horizon. I listened and wrote in my head, trying to catch those thoughts and cement them for later usage, but of course it’s a lost cause.
Smart people keep notebooks in their car.
I rushed along for three miles and what a glorious night for a concert. The delicious cocktail of exercise endorphins and good music. Here comes the madness of divine inspiration.
First, we wade through the swamp lands and tidal waves of Tool, the dark spiritual psychedelia of Reflection, perfect under the streetlamp shadows that pass my feet as I rush along.
Now here’s late period Hendrix. I adore his late-period purple funk, and I could stay inside those songs forever.
Fantastic songs for Autumn somehow; those elusive guitar tones, the general feel of having one foot standing in the Christian church and one nostril snorting up cocaine in a lavish whore house.
But, couldn’t that describe much of the blues? Perhaps, but there’s something extra here, that holy ingredient dropping down from those beautiful long fingers.
Nothing compares to the pink ocean swirl of “Drifting” – Jimi’s angel woman he was always singing about. Waiting in the sky, waiting on the other side of the ocean, always there in his music and in the secret heart of many.
Next we have my beloved Pumpkins, here’s “Thru the Eyes of Ruby” and how could I fucking forget how perfect this song is in darkness under a full moon? Holy shit, it’s a surprise all over again, I had completely forgotten.
Oh, here comes the Bending Mirrors of Perception! The bending mirrors in the intro. That first BLAST of indescribable tone and guitar pedal glory still gets me on nights like this. Like it’s the first time I’m hearing it.
The swirling mirrors in the clouds, the gothic vampire sound, the epic movements, the layers and layers building, the drums crashing as the tension builds, the controlled screaming refrain, the laser guitars shooting everywhere, now they crash down into the ground.
Finally, the storm clouds part at the end and here comes that yellow moon over water just like the album art. That acoustic moon rises as the electric storm falls away and that shit never gets old.
Here comes Jefferson Airplane. This is a live, screaming electric version of “You, Me, and Pooneil” featuring Jack Cassidy’s wild bass solo.
You can see young Grace Slick on stage in your mind dancing around near the bass amp. The most beautiful woman, in her youth, who ever walked planet earth. Jet black hair, crazy blue eyes cast down in concentration, staring at the floor near Jack’s bass amp, her wicked stage presence and dark beauty.
Now the drums pick up speed, the bass solo crests and BOOM – here’s Jorma Kaukonen’s lead guitar taking over like a lightning bolt.
That mean-ass guitar drops down and says, “I’m the fucking boss now”. The singers harmonize in a groove, then suddenly they all soar up and bellow out a high note together and the lead guitar comes back and twists around, that evil fucking snake twisting around on the stage! Oh my god! It goes on forever and all the instruments go in different directions and I’m walking.
My mind tries to follow all the musical ideas, but I can’t decide which way to go. Colors flash; fireworks, an intellectual orgasm in my mind and it always conjures wooden floorboards in my imagination, a little blues shack in the woods, jazz and blues central, walls vibrating, organic things mixed with neon flowers.
Finally, we have my other beloved, Radiohead, and here is “Motion Picture Soundtrack”, crazy mashup of “Everything in it’s right Place”. This particular version of this song is a perfect reflection of what happens in the brain of someone messed up on anxiety or other mental illness; reverse kaleidoscopes melting into each other, refracted light, two colors in your head, I see grey and yellow. Now we’re in the netherworlds with the gremlins and the strobe light sound machines.
I don’t allow myself to listen to this kind of music in my living room at night, because if I catch the inspiration, I’ll stay up all night, speakers blasting, walking around in circles when I get excited about guitar solos and various things.
I listen to ambient electronica instead.
So, I walked and wrote in my head, knowing I wouldn’t get it all down. Glittering pavement, ideas flying around. I had an idea to write a post every night featuring one song. 500-700 words max. I had an idea to type up a passage from my favorite books and other writings every weekend. I opened up my skull beneath the harvest moon and the universe flew inside. When passion is underway for me, it’s all consuming.
Master the energies.
Smart people would designate a half hour to get it all out every day, then move on to something else in their routine. But for some of us, it’s not that simple. If it’s there, it wants to flow.
You can’t put a harness on that wild horse.
So, if I want to sleep I can’t ride that horse the way I want. As it is, I should have gone to bed and read some George Eliot tonight. But, here I am.
I like to do Song of The Month features. It’s fun too… because I call them song of the month but sometimes it’s only twice a year. I just do them when I feel like it. 😁
Today features House of The Rising Sun by Eric Burdon and The Animals. I fuckin’ love Eric Burdon. Listen to that goddamn voice.
hot damn. I discovered one of his greatest hits albums in the early 2000’s around the same time that I discovered The Who and a bunch of other classic rock stuff that was new to me at the time. Burdon was yet another fantastic treasure I found during a period of ripe discovery.
I tended to discover a good classic rock song and either I would order a best hits comp, or the entire early catalog of each band. It was a joy to receive these discs in the mail and put them on right away…usually while taking a huge bong rip.. start listening and say to my girlfriend, “hot damn! EVERY song on this CD is amazing.”
Burdon’s compilation was like that. It featured “See See Rider”, “Montery”, “Sky Pilot” and all his 1967-1969 stuff, including an excellent version of “River Deep, Mountain High”. I never did check out the earlier era of The Animals because it seemed like it was just a bunch of covers. I may do that soon. Because honestly, rising sun is a cover and it’s possibly the most famous and skillfully executed cover song of all time.
I am learning this one and it’s trickier to play than it sounds due to the pick scrape action and the fact that it’s in 3/6 combined with the pick technique. But I am obsessive so I will get it.
Listen to that voice. Makes my nipples hard. Burdon is such a weird guy too. In the best way. Listen to him in the song “Winds of Change” and this weirdness becomes evident. He does this weird deadpan thing and I love it. Just a very unique and special voice in the Canon of rock legends.
he also looks a lot like me. Burdon could be my dad. I am adopted so it warms my heart to think maybe there’s some chance that I am actually the product of Burdon and some groupie. Heh.
heh heh. “Have you seen Tina Turner?” This one makes me want to dance or walk circles in my living room.
This post is inspired by Grace. I needed breakfast material, so she did me a favor. Grace is apparently not a fan of girl groups or the overproduction of Motown sound. Whereas, The Supremes doing this song makes my nipples hard, and it inspires a desire for me to walk in circles in my living room listening to it. For comparison, let’s hear 1 other version and then a jaw-dropping medley by Tim Buckley which features the song at the end. The way he segues into the song with his acoustic still gets me.
And since it’s V-day and Supremes annoy Grace 😆, I will feature another song that I love, the Symphony song. I LOVE this shit. Come on Grace, can’t you see the tall handsome black man with a thin mustache and a million dollar smile giving her flowers and does it not make you swoon a little inside? 😁 this song makes me want to wear a pink dress. In reality I am rather boyish, but this song makes my soul put on a pink dress. Ross’s mastery of the vocals here kills me. Utter perfection. The way she does a lispy and whispy thing on certain words to bring an extra little femininity…absolute mastery.
now if you’ll excuse me I must swoon to this last song a time or two and then I must return to my work station.
“Don’t guilt trip me, now…” I say to her. I’m staring at her long neck and letting my eyes wander down her smooth black body. I look over at him. He’s an asshole too.
He stands next to her, tall and rigid with his polished & perfect stance. He’s ready for action.
I tap my foot in silent indecision while two eager faces stare at me.
I seriously think about going for it…. but I decide I’m being too obsessive with this whole thing lately.
“No! I’m about to get cramps and I want to read tonight.”
I pick up my kindle and hold it up.
“William Faulkner. I’ve never read him. That’s my new thing I’m trying. Seriously, it’s okay to just read some nights. You guys are too much. Insatiable, really.”
I want them to pout, but they’re both too regal for that. They just stand proud, every inch of their bodies still, almost militant. Wooden and inanimate. Ultimately, I win the argument. There will be no playing guitar tonight. Not the electric, or the acoustic.
heh heh heh heh. This is a republish from 2018 or 2019. But for me it just never gets old.
I’ve been wanting to write about my past psychedelic experiences for a long time. Last night I discovered a great resource for researching psychedelics & experiences that I will plug at the bottom of this post, along with a few other links.
Before we get into my experiences, I gotta plug a few hilarious quotes I found.
My original intention was to do two separate posts.
One of them was going to be chock-full of funny quotes like those below, plus some quotes that were simply interesting or beautiful. The other post was going to be my personal experiences.
Well, as I continued to read about people’s experiences, I found that most of them just were not as funny as the ones below.
And I don’t have patience to make a big research project out of this whole thing.
But let’s get into the good stuff.
“Moments later I progressed ever deeper into the ego death and lost my sense of self momentarily. I then started to feel that I was the universe searching for itself within itself but had entirely forgotten that it was itself. At this point a brief moment of realization hit me, I realized that I had found myself and that it had been right in front of me all along.”
“I was asking questions aloud to my friends/guardian spirits, like “When did you get here?” (by which I meant, ‘When did you beings come into existence?’), and my friend replied, “We’ve been here the whole time, dude” (this proved to me that they were divine).”
And later, in the same entry:
“One friend stayed behind to keep me company through all this while the other two went exploring, and I asked stuff from time to time (still thinking he was divine); “Where did you come from?” I asked, and he replied by touching my heart and whispering, “We came from inside.” Looking back on it he was simply trolling me, but my mind was blown, again.”
Haha, lmao! =) That entry above is my absolute favorite.
(The quote below is for Rob in particular)
“I decided it was finally time for me to try to play Mario cart, and as I tried to navigate through the menu with my friend I realized that I could actually still play really well. I chose a map called “rainbow road” for obvious reasons, and the neon rainbow of colors engulfed the entire room as we played. I had never felt this before, but a great peace of everything being connected to me overcame me and I started bawling my eyes out! I kept telling my friends that I was experiencing “pure love” and that the universe loved me!”
(He then goes on to explain that his friends were shitty trip sitters, and it seems like they were just ignoring him while he was having this majestic insight about the universe – how sad).
Before we get into my experiences, I should tack a disclaimer on here.
I have never had a bad trip on any psychedelic drug. However. This was during a very social time of my life. I was young and I was surrounded by friends I trusted who I spent time hanging out with nearly every day.
The “set and setting” was continually good because this friend group had such a profoundly positive effect on my life. Thus, even when I tripped alone I never had a bad trip.
I had not yet developed anxiety or a stressful career. I had zero self-awareness. In other words, I was not yet an adult. I was an adult in age (early 20’s) but not mentally. If I took any of these substances now (besides MDMA), there’s a good chance I’d have a nightmare trip unless something in my life changed to where I could establish general emotional safety, plus a very good set and setting.
I remember the beginning of my first LSD trip like it was yesterday. It makes me smile.
Being incredibly dumb as a young person, I took that first dose alone. My girlfriend must have been at work. I have no memory of her being there. I was alone in my first apartment.
I took a low dose and waited for the effects to kick in.
It must have been one sugar cube, because I can’t remember any geometric wave patterns from this first trip. But then, I only remember the first part of the trip. I do remember a pufferfish on the ceiling. But we’ll get to that later.
The first thing I remember is a gentle and heady shift in my consciousness. I remember having a little feeling of excitement. “Wow, it’s happening!”
Some time passed, and I looked down at the carpet. The carpet was one of those low carpets like you’d find in a doctor’s waiting room office. It was normally dark blue with green specks in it.
As the effects of the acid kicked in, the floor started turning green. A neon-colored green. I was ecstatic.
I grabbed the cordless phone and dialed my friend Nick. He answered.
“Nick!” I shouted, “Nick, the floor is turning GREEN!”
“It sounds like you took that acid.”
I don’t remember what he said after that. I’m sure that I continued talking about how amazing everything was and he continued chuckling for some time.
I was a big marijuana stoner during this time, and I had recently discovered The 13th Floor Elevators. I grabbed a 13th Floor Elevators album, placed it in the CD deck of my stereo and cranked the music up.
The song “(I’ve Got) Levitation” came on and I was overtaken with musical ecstasy.
The lyrics talked about the ocean rolling below you. I jumped up on my couch and looked down at the floor. I wasn’t hallucinating at this point, but I had a general feeling like the room was more expansive and I imagined my floor as the ocean. A blue-green ocean of neon.
I jumped from the couch cushions up to the very top of the couch, and then back down to the couch cushions again. I just remember being ecstatic over the music.
At one point, I looked up at the ceiling. I couldn’t believe my eyes!
I saw a flashing pufferfish on my ceiling. There wasn’t any color or anything, it was just the outline of the pufferfish. It was in the ceiling texture – those paint bumps you see in apartments.
But it was clearly a pufferfish. Spikes and everything. And it was flashing and moving around.
I sat for a while looking up and admiring the pufferfish.
This is an amazing thing about LSD. Where did this come from? I didn’t have any particular interest in pufferfish. But one just appeared randomly. Created by my fucking brain. Just… out of nowhere.
Apparently, Nick decided that I shouldn’t be alone. Because at some point there was a knock on the door. I wasn’t scared because I somehow knew that it was my friends.
I opened the door, and they all piled in. About 7 or 8 of them.
I didn’t have much furniture so most of them sat cross legged on the floor.
They suddenly looked like cabbage patch kids to me. You know, the doll from the 80’s. They didn’t literally look like the dolls, but I had a general feeling that they were cabbage patch kids because of the particular way they sat cross legged on the floor. Their crossed legs were like cabbages and they were cabbage patch kids.
Most of them were a few years younger than me. I was totally the immature 21-year-old befriending and buying beer for the 17- and 18-year-olds. And yet… I was the most childlike among the whole crowd. It was a thing they liked about me and they were special.
There’s a whole Jack Kerouac-style backstory about how I met these kids that I should tell some other time. We all remained friends for several years until a primary member of the group committed suicide and shattered each of our lives.
But, at this very moment on LSD they looked like cabbage patch kids to me, and I remember telling them so. They were always amused by “crazy Melissa” and my weird-ass antics while drunk or stoned. And they all came over to my apartment because they couldn’t miss the chance to see me on LSD. Heh.
One of the girls sat next to me on the couch and I handed her my journal with sketches and writings. She sat there reading it and looked amazed by what she was reading. I continued tripping but I don’t remember anything else.
I did quite a bit of LSD tripping after that. There was a great deal of listening to music and staring at the geometric swirls in the fireplace.
During the most intense experience, I remember I ate a little too much acid. Probably like 3 or 4 sugar cubes. Too much for me. I tried listening to some wild song by Jimi Hendrix.
The whole room smiled at me in mockery. The edges of everything in the room, and indeed the room itself – it was all bent sharply upward in a mocking smile. The stereo smiled at me. It wasn’t a bad trip; it was just a little too intense. I shut the radio off and waited it out. This intense moment passed pretty quickly.
One time me and the boys went to Kincaid Park and it was the most amazing trip of my life. People should trip outdoors under the moonlight. We climbed this huge hill and looked out over Anchorage’s Cook Inlet. I can’t remember much of that one, beyond the sheer beauty of Kincaid Park under the moon in early spring. Which, honestly – I’m sure is amazing while perfectly sober.
Generally speaking – low to moderate doses of LSD bring a vast amount of geometric form pattern hallucinations.
You don’t actually have the kind of hallucinations where you see things that are not really there – you just hallucinate moving geometric patterns – at times often quite intricate – in the forms of reality. Walls, carpets, desktops. And maybe – as in my case – the occasional form of some kind of animal in the wall or ceiling.
Most of the experience is spiritual in nature. It changes how you feel. There’s a spiritual transcendence.
I cannot speak for high doses. I was never brave enough to take a high dose, except the aforementioned “mocking smile” experience. That was a bit uncomfortable for a while. My male friends would take much higher doses than I did.
One time Nick told me that he had a trip after 9 sugar cubes where he thought he swallowed his tongue. I laughed my ass off and told him that’s why I stuck to lower doses.
One time I drove to Kincaid Park and ate a couple of sugar cubes in the bathroom. Alone. I hung out for a while and went and sat in the grass. Then I went to the bathroom to pee.
At some point, the walls began turning orange and the geometric hallucinations began. The walls started breathing. I had a moment of clarity where I decided it was probably not smart to hang out in the woods alone on LSD.
I drove home. High on acid. So – it was not safe enough to be alone in the woods, but driving was apparently fine. I wrote in more detail about this experience in my post about Soundgarden.
Because I listened to Soundgarden on the drive home, see. On full blast. It was the greatest driving experience of my life.
But… it was incredibly, incredibly dumb. I cannot believe I was ever that stupid. I don’t understand how I made it out of my early 20’s alive.
I paid close attention to red and green lights. I drove as carefully as I could and stayed between the highway lines while everything swirled around me. This was my Hunter S. Thompson moment.
I could have called my girlfriend to come get me. I realized this half-way through the drive. But it was too late.
But when I got home, my girlfriend was zoned out on LSD herself. She was laying on the couch watching Pink Panther cartoons.
Heh. So much for that idea.
Then came magic mushrooms. Ooooh, I was arrogant about mushrooms at first. I thought I could handle a whole bag of mushrooms because I had done so much LSD.
Newsflash: They’re two different drugs. You don’t eat a whole fucking bag of mushrooms the first time you try them. It doesn’t matter how often you’ve been taking LSD.
I was laying on the couch while tripping. At some point, I completely lost my sense of self. I had no form. I had no body.
I could not perceive where the couch ended, and I began. All of this happened with my eyes closed.
I closed my eyes and the most incredible visuals with great huge beams of blue light in a shape I can only describe as hourglass-like – they moved in constant patterns like a modern screensaver.
I was too fucked up to be scared. I do not remember any fear. Whatsoever. I remember being fascinated. To the extent possible, given that I was no longer a human and I had no human form.
After a while, I came down some and opened my eyes. I took a drink of my water and it tasted like strawberries. I was astonished. I kept drinking more. How can this be? I took more sips, it kept tasting like strawberries.
The best mushroom trip happened with my friend Nick.
We ate the mushrooms (a reasonable dose this time!) and walked the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. As we entered the trail, some type of machine that cleans paved paths was driving toward us. I was starting to come up. I was absolutely fascinated.
“Nick, look at this crazy shit!”
There were a few of these machines and they were like crazy giant bugs – some kind of ant that sprayed water. He laughed because he saw the same thing. “Yeah, that’s some weird shit, I know…”
We walked the trail all night long. Gorgeous. I had to stop several times to puke. Mushrooms always had this effect on me.
Until my friend Crystal informed me that you can cut the nausea by squeezing the good shit out of the mushrooms with a strainer into a cup of double-bagged chamomile tea and steep it for 15 minutes.
It works. That’s how powerful chamomile tea is. I never puked or had nausea after making “mushroom tea”.
Here comes the best part:
We entered a park area with picnic tables. I saw a statue sitting at a picnic table. I was absolutely fascinated. I began walking quickly toward the statue. I heard Nick yell behind me, “Melissa, what you are you doing!?” He sounded alarmed, but I thought he was just being dramatic.
“I’m going to look at this statue!”
I slowed my pace as I neared the statue. The statue had its chin resting on its hand – like that whole “To be, or not to be” statue of classical whatever.
Suddenly, the statue moved! I gasped and started running away as fast as I could.
At some point, I stopped and looked back, still alarmed. I’m not sure why I did this, but I kicked dirt up into the air with my foot. Like a dog. And then continued running back toward Nick.
Nick was laughing his ass off. He was laughing so hard he was in tears.
“I thought it was a statue!” I explained.
So, let’s consider the perspective of this poor dude. He’s sitting around thinking about something. Suddenly, a young woman runs up to him at full speed, slows down, and peers closely at him with wildly dilated eyes. Ha. It’s too great.
Welcome to Anchorage, Alaska. Stranger things happen in this town.
As we walked, seagulls dived at Nick and it scared the shit out of him. We had walked beneath a nest. He was trying to punch them in the air. I laughed at him and he was annoyed at my laughing. And I laughed even more at his annoyance.
I wish I had a better description of walking on the Knowles Trail in summertime on mushrooms. Especially with a trusted friend. Let me just say this: This trail in Anchorage is amazing enough on its own. The lush plants, the summer light.
Nick was planning on leaving for California for winter, and toward the end of the trip we sat in a field with flowers. Suddenly Nick became Mr. Planning. Which I thought was hilarious.
He talked a great deal about things he needed to do for his cats. Nick always had cats around. He was very serious about taking care of his pet cats. Which was sweet because he was a young stoner boy. He named one of his cats “Spliff”.
He talked about his plane leaving at “Nine o’clock in the afternoon”.
We were still fairly high. I lost it. I started laughing my ass off.
“Nine o’clock is nighttime, Nick, not afternoon!” He was like, “Oh yeah, I guess you’re right.”
Heh. Shit like that. You had to be there.
Ah, then there was MDMA. Colloquially known as “Ecstasy”. This was a few years after the LSD and mushrooms.
Far and away – the CRAZIEST hallucinations I have ever seen happened on MDMA. This is due to one of two things – either the massive doses I took, or there was something else in those pills. We’ll get into the hallucinations later.
This was during a very irresponsible time of my life. I was out of my mind, and I was reckless.
My good friend had killed himself.
Only a few months after that incident, I walked in on my best friend and my girlfriend having sex.
I remember my MDMA trips, but I do not remember much else from this period. It was the darkest period of my life.
Looking back, I used the MDMA as self-therapy. I had no one. My friend group had splintered apart after our mutual friend’s suicide. The whole group isolated and stopped seeing each other for a while.
I lived with this best friend of mine. The Betrayer. So, I had to continue living with this wench for a while until I decided to move back in with my parents. You can imagine how that went.
Well, unless I was high on MDMA, which I often was. Then I was okay with the two of them. But when I came down? Not so much. I should have moved out sooner, but you see – I couldn’t sit around doing MDMA all night long at my parent’s house.
I did ecstasy alone and it was my therapy. I forgave them both. I saw their perspective. I had intense empathy for myself, for both of them, and for everyone in the whole world. My friend would walk by and I was like, “Okay, I understand, and I forgive you” and she would be confused because hours earlier I was screaming at her and throwing shit.
I took massive doses. 5 pills at once, and then I took more once the high wore off. Nick told me I was out of my mind. He was concerned, but there was nothing he could do about it.
The craziest hallucination was The Parrot. I worked for a guitar store at the time. We were allowed to take home awesome promotional posters sent to the store for gear.
I had this poster of Jimi Hendrix with a huge Marshall stack behind him. It was a Marshall advertisement. I was high and staring at this poster intensely.
Suddenly, something started GROWING on this poster. On Jimi’s shoulder. It was a bright green color, almost a neon green. The green thing started as just a little round ball, but the ball kept growing.
The ball continued to slowly grow into a branch! From the branch, talons formed, and from the talons, legs grew up, and from the legs a torso, wings, and a head!
I sat up and squinted. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I knew that I was experiencing a hallucination, I didn’t believe it was real. But – I had never seen ANYTHING like this on LSD or mushrooms. The detail was amazing.
Best yet, this was all 3D. The branch grew out halfway into my living room and the parrot WALKED out onto the branch and stared at me. It turned its head this way and that, checking me out.
I got up and grabbed the air. People are funny like that when high – you know full and well that it’s a hallucination from your mind, but you’re going to try and grab it anyway. You know. It just seems so real that you have to make sure.
I also remember seeing a lot of spiders coming down from the ceiling on webs during this time. That was unsettling because spiders are a thing that actually exist. I was always swatting at them just to make sure. But these hallucinations were so frequent that soon enough I learned to ignore them and listen to my music.
I was constantly listening to The Meat Puppets. That music is made for MDMA. There’s no way I can explain this. The only way you could understand how The Meat Puppets are the perfect MDMA band is to take the drug and listen to the band.
It was so good that I rarely listened to anything else.
One morning I had a hallucination that a rat was giving birth in my bathroom heater vent. I thought it might be a hallucination, but it seemed so real that I couldn’t stop watching and trying to figure it out. It was disgusting. These little hairless rodents swirmed around like maggots and the mom rat just kept popping them out. She had like 10 babies and finally it disappeared.
Then I went to work while still high. I told one of my co-workers about how a rat may have given birth in my heater vent. I relayed this information while still obviously very high, I’m sure.
I was fired that day, of course.
Heh. And then four years later I became an HR worker. I never judged people with drug charges on those background checks, let me tell you.
And so ends the history of my psychedelic drug use. I had many fun times. I did many stupid things.
I have no interest in MDMA but would happily do LSD and mushrooms again under the right circumstances. But first I would need either a group of close and trusted friends, or a licensed therapist who enjoys supervising these adventures. I can’t see ever doing any of that shit again on a willy-nilly basis like I did back in the day. And I would certainly never trip alone. In general, I’m more of an actual adult now and would be very cautious about the whole affair.
On a dark stage in 1967, the jazz-rock ensemble Jefferson Airplane perform the song “Crown of Creation” to an enthralled crowd. A large screen flashes a red sun behind the singers as they harmonize. Their voices shimmer and converge into one alchemy of sound as the rhythm guitar pulsates with the light show. The lead guitar cuts through the stage and twists out into the audience like a wild river.
From the first note of their debut album through the last note of 1969’s Volunteers, Jefferson Airplane were a musically diverse force that took the world by storm. They began as a local San Francisco folk-rock band in 1965, and within two years they skyrocketed to fame with the band’s two seminal hits, “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit.” For fans, however, the magic extends far beyond the band’s two hit singles.
The Airplane sound will guide listeners through an echo tunnel and into a world the band’s rhythm guitarist Paul Kantner once called, “The unbridled passion of the 60’s”. Jefferson Airplane soared to the top of the charts during a time when rock music was exploding with talent, new ideas, and technology.
The band’s professionalism and thunderous live performances attracted local San Francisco musician Grace Slick, the member who ultimately launched the band to superstardom.
Like all legendary bands, a mysterious element drove the Airplane’s sound. The songs drew from a dynamic color palette loaded with reverb and surrounded by layers of gauzy dreamscape. They were unique among other popular bands of the time for their ability to seamlessly combine folk-based music with jazz, blues, and psychedelia.
The music and the overall persona of the band were an ideology. Among all the other legendary rock bands from the 1960’s, it was Jefferson Airplane who cut directly into the heart of the scene. Their music represented the boundless optimism, joy, and romance of the era
My introduction to the Airplane began with Grace Slick’s face on the cover of her 1998 autobiography, Grace Slick:Somebody to Love?
One day, I wandered around a bookstore browsing for anything that looked interesting. I walked up to the front and turned toward the new release shelf. A shiny cover with a woman’s face captured my eye. I did a double take and froze. The most beautiful woman I’d ever seen in my life was staring me down with unnerving intensity. Grace Slick’s infamous “laser stare” stopped me in my tracks.
I immediately walked over to the book and opened it up. The first page contained several author quotes about drug experiences, trouble with the law, and various other comic tidbits. They were hilarious and I was sold.
After reading the book a couple of times, I finally picked up a copy of the Airplane compilation album, White Rabbit and Other Hits. I listened, and I was hooked.
As it turned out, this beautiful and funny Grace Slick was also a fantastic singer. The interplay between the various instruments and the two voices — Grace and Marty Balin — was unlike anything I had experienced. Complex layers of minor key madness danced around soft rhythm brushstrokes. The music flashed with colors while the lyrics evoked rich imagery.
Year by year, each album by the Airplane portrays a changing era. Their debut album, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, reveals a more innocent, folksy vibe than later albums.
The album was released in 1966, right at the turning point before full-blown psychedelia and heavier rock hit the airwaves. The song “Run Around” is awash in late night carnival lights. Two lovers romance around the town walking along the waterfront, reading poetry and gazing at the stars.
Many songs on the album are folk-based, but it’s more than folk. The sound stretches beyond traditional folk into a sonic dimension specific to this band that defies both genre and description.
1967’s Surrealistic Pillow represents the big shift in the Airplane’s sound. Grace’s searing vocal on “Somebody to Love” drives the song forward while Jorma Kaukonen’s lead guitar slides out from underneath the ground and hangs on the ceiling. The album intertwines the Airplane’s earlier folk influences with a new power — bluesy and raging.
Surrealistic Pillow has plenty of quieter moments as well. The acoustic guitar in “Today” sounds like water dropping into a dark pond surrounded by neon flowers. The drums reverberate with pink hues.
“Coming Back to Me” features a flute backed by acoustic guitar, but again, this is no ordinary folk song. The imagery is so rich that you can see the protagonist. You are him. It’s autumn, you’re deep in the woods. You’re alone in a cabin. You look out the window — there’s the ghost of your lover. The purity of Balin’s voice lends itself perfectly to the song’s theme.
On their 1968 album, After Bathing at Baxter’s, the Airplane dived headfirst into insanity. At this point, everyone in the rock world was competing with Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix dropped into the scene and blazed fiery trails of new sonic territory. Everyone was floored by Hendrix’s sound, and all the popular rock acts of the day began playing differently.
As a result of Hendrix’s influence (and as a result of the emerging drug culture), some incredibly weird albums emerged in 1968. After Bathing at Baxter’s is one such album.
Baxter’s is a big yellow jazz room with wooden floorboards and xylophones. Men wearing top hats and red suspenders pound on drums. The guitar becomes a spaceship, Grace’s singing sounds tribal at moments, and the lyrics are surreal.
The song “Wild Tyme” has a marching band feel, the sound of excitement and determination. Flower children march through the streets and over fields. Now they’re pouring out of buildings and the crowd is growing. A couple observes all the changes happening everywhere. They’re wild with joy. They have each other, their friends — everything stretches out in endless possibilities.
“Saturday Afternoon” is another gem; hillsides full of people dance in the sun, and that persistent chiming guitar is a call to a greater power within.
The production and general sound of Baxter’s is bizarre. It’s like they’re playing underground. The band are down in the underworld playing through a bullhorn, and it’s connected to a wire that snakes up through miles of dirt and plugs into your stereo.
Crown of Creation is Jefferson Airplane at their best. The album combines all their earthy folksiness with striking moments of lead guitar and rhythm prowess.
The song “Crown of Creation” is one of my favorites; filled with ancient caves, meadows, and gold. Crown is darker than previous albums, owing partly to the increasing song contributions of Grace Slick. Always the darkest musical force in the band, Grace wrote scathing lyrics directed at society. The backing music was ominous and unsettling, but darkly alluring. Just like her beauty.
1969’s Volunteers has a few gems, most notably “Wooden Ships”, but this is the album where the band starts to lose me. The sound is almost country in places. This phase of the Airplane, however, was also a reflection of the changing music scene. The psychedelic 60’s gave way to a brief country-rock fad, shortly before heavier bands like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin stormed the charts.
“Wooden Ships” is the finest song from Volunteers. You can see and feel the boat crashing over the waves. You can taste the salt. The song is a fitting goodbye — Jefferson Airplane set a course away from popular music with one final and passionate song.
They would never return. But in their wake, they left an unsurpassed legend for generations to enjoy.
“We played at the Monterey jazz festival, and someone wrote a review. They said we sounded like a mule kicking down a barn door. We all liked that, you know! We thought, wow, that’s great. Among all these jazz guys we sound like a mule kicking a barn door.”
“Every time I hear “White Rabbit,” I am back on the greasy midnight streets of San Francisco, looking for music, riding a fast red motorcycle downhill into the Presidio, leaning desperately into the curves through the eucalyptus trees, trying to get to the Matrix in time to hear Grace Slick play the flute” – Hunter S. Thompson
Republish from April 2019. Long ago, I sat in my living room listening to Amnesiac by Radiohead with a head full of LSD.
I stared at the fireplace, slack-jawed and wide-eyed, watching the giant stones swirl in geometric patterns. Listening intently, I tried to understand the pops, clicks, and clanks of “Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box”. I was awestruck; everything made complete sense, yet it made no sense at all.
“Pyramid Song” started playing and I sat up. The flood gates of my mind opened; a river of emotion flowed into my ears and out of my eyes, a gleaming mirror formed in my field of vision as music notes danced on the surface.
Fog rolled into my living room. As the orchestra kicked up and Thom Yorke moaned wistfully, a lighthouse beacon appeared. I was on a ship in the ocean. I looked over the edge and saw those black-eyed angels Thom was singing about. I looked up to a dark blue sky laced with pink clouds above the twilight. The songs became stranger and infinitely more beautiful as the album unfurled.
Amnesiac isn’t an album on LSD — it’s an odyssey.
I can never fully describe the experiences I had listening to Amnesiac on acid. The description above is a rough, crude sketch that doesn’t begin to convey the level of beauty and strangeness I witnessed in that living room.
Amnesiac had a calming quality, but it was also brittle, vast and perplexing. I could drink in the cold passion while I wrapped my brain around the puzzles within the sound. I could never solve those puzzles, but I never tired of the effort.
Radiohead’s music has been the soundtrack to moments of intense connection and grief in my life. Looking back, it was the calming and therapeutic quality of Amnesiac that hooked me above everything else.
Now I’m returning to Radiohead for the same reason, exploring late period music I overlooked in the last decade and discovering songs that serve my journey now the way Amnesiac served my acid trips in 2003.
I’ve recently experienced severe anxiety. It’s subsiding now, but this Nightmare Land lasted nearly a month. When anxiety strikes, it’s like a series of waves crashing. When the tide goes out, you’re left with an ethereal, ghost-like feeling. That’s disassociation. This is your brain’s way of dealing with adrenaline overload. It’s almost like being high. It’s a welcome relief from the feeling that you will collapse from fear.
For that reason — the “high” thing — I’ve been purposely feeding it with Radiohead. Because nobody does disassociation like Radiohead. They’ve been doing it well for a while.
The album A Moon Shaped Pool is arguably Radiohead’s crowning achievement in otherworldly disconnection. Today I walked 4 miles in the sun listening to A Moon Shaped Pool, just floating along on my ghost trip. Normally while the sun is out, I won’t touch Radiohead. On a sunny day I usually prefer bombastic guitar-based music.
But not today… because it doesn’t matter what the weather is. I’m up here in my head. People pass by and they’re in another realm. I can almost pretend I’m invisible. They ruin it sometimes by looking directly at me, but not often because I don’t look at them.
But I have Radiohead.
I have the gothic choral strains of “Decks Dark” in my ear, and I could float up to the damn sky on the refrain if I wanted to. I could climb the arpeggios of “Present Tense” up to a rainbow. I don’t need to eat lunch or dinner to walk 4 miles, and I don’t need much sleep. I’m never tired and I’m never fully awake.
But I have Radiohead.
And I have Radiohead backward…. Backward, way back through the smoke rings of my mind…way back through the haze of all that weed I used to smoke. I see Wyatt when he was still alive, playing a Radiohead song on his acoustic guitar.
I see Wyatt before he killed himself and shattered the lives of everyone who loved him. Before the memory of 20-year old boys howling in pain at his wake, some of them quiet with tear-stained faces, before the memory of his stoic mom barely holding it together, greeting kids so bravely, hugging me and asking where I’ve been lately.
Before all this, I see Wyatt in his room.
I see Wyatt who idolized Thom Yorke before he became obsessed with Tom Waits, who he probably learned about from Thom Yorke. We’re in his room, just me and him. We’re smoking weed and he’s playing the riff to “Street Spirit” over and over again, getting it down.
Fast forward to a different night under the full moon shining down on Cook Inlet in Kincaid Park. There’s me, Wyatt, and two other boys trekking through the woods at night, climbing up an endless hill to gaze at the jeweled moon. Three of us took acid that night, and I wasn’t the sober one. Neither was Wyatt.
There’s Wyatt pulling out a spoon to show me the reflection of the moon on its silver rounded surface, as if he’d brought a spoon just for this occasion. We’re on top of a grassy hill overlooking the vast inlet below. We all have headphones on. I’m listening to OK Computer by Radiohead. I take my headphones off and I hear the faint, tinny scratches from Wyatt’s headphones. I ask him what he’s listening to. He tells me he’s listening to Ok Computer.
I smile wide and tell him that’s what I’m listening to. We didn’t discuss what we’d listen to beforehand. It’s not an album I listen to much anymore since I discovered Radiohead’s Kid A, but it seems right for the moment. Apparently, Wyatt thinks so too. I marvel at the synchronicity for a moment before getting lost in something else within that long magic night under the Alaskan moon.
Fast forward a couple of years later and there I am in my bedroom, still stunned in disbelief that Wyatt is gone. Listening to “How to Disappear Completely”. Listening to other Radiohead songs. Listening to other music I like that Wyatt also liked, laying there like a stone unable to move for days. Going over every memory I have of him in my mind from the past 4 years.
Last week I thought I was losing my mind; staying drunk to get food down on account of anxiety, hiking the woods during the day, and finding relief near the ocean. Then I returned, and I had Radiohead.
For a few days I couldn’t listen to anything but “Codex”. This song is a perfect example of Thom Yorke’s brilliance as a singer. You’ll first listen the song focusing on the sound, not paying attention to the lyrics. You’ll hear a word here and there. “Dragonflies… the water is clear…”, that’s all you can make out.
But it doesn’t matter because his voice is like a bell from heaven combined with a raw nerve. The whole meaning of the song is stretched out in every yearning moan elicited between his quieter moments of despondency. He soars up and bellows out that great beautiful bell-tone ache, then slides down quietly as if to say, “this is so sad, I can’t even”.
One day I looked up the lyrics. When you read the lyrics without listening to the music, they sit flat on the page. The words are so devoid by themselves that it’s almost comical. However, once you know the lyrics and then listen to the song again, the beatific emerges. Now this song is about getting lost in the serenity of the woods. You’ve done nothing wrong and you don’t deserve this. Here’s the clear water now. Take a break.
I love songmeanings.com. Looking up songs on this website is sometimes an exercise in comedy, but it always provides revealing insight into people’s lives. I looked up “Codex” on this site (found here), and as usual I’m entertained.
Many people think it’s about suicide. Someone thinks it’s about political conspiracy. Another guy thinks it’s about flying a military plane and carpet-bombing civilians. Someone else thinks it’s about Radiohead breaking up. Another person thinks it’s about Christianity and the clear lake is holy water.
The interpretations people come up with are a reflection of their own lives and beliefs, and that’s the genius of songmeanings.com.
The highest rated comment is my favorite, and I have co-opted it for my own purposes. The commenter posits that it’s about “the Buddhist spiritual cycle of life, death, and rebirth” — that it’s about “exploring the unfamiliar within ourselves and abandoning our previous shells”. He then provides evidence that one of the songs is titled “Lotus Flower” and other songs on the album follow a similar pattern thematically.
This is a beautiful interpretation, and I can no longer hear the song any other way. After reading this, “Codex” changed from being just a sad song about being isolated and needing a break to a song about experiencing sadness, but finding hope through a spiritual path.