Lyrical Substance Deliberated


Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds from Yellow Submarine (1968).

The advent of spring invariably gets me listening to favourite psychedelic songs, and this year has been no exception. Earlier this week I was idly wondering how many songs there are that follow the Beatles’ lead in telegraphing their drug metaphors by using the initials L-S-D in their titles. Wikipedia’s page for Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (1967) relates John Lennon’s oft-repeated claim that the initialism in the title was a coincidence, and the song itself is really a bit of Lewis Carroll-like whimsy. This might be credible if works of art only ever carried one meaning but they don’t, of course, and the song is both a piece of Lewis Carroll-like whimsy as well as being a pretty obvious paean to the drug experience: “Climb in the back with your head in the clouds / And you’re gone”. Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit (1967) was similarly ambivalent with mushrooms/pills replacing acid.

Among the many things birthed by the enormous success of the Sgt Pepper album, a small flurry of songs or instrumentals have imitated Lennon’s initialism for their titles. The ones that came immediately to mind are detailed below, and they make a curious group. If anyone knows of any others—there must be others…—then please leave a comment.


Burning Of The Midnight Lamp/The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam’s Dice (Aug, 1967).

The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s B-side not only alludes to LSD but also to STP. The song itself doesn’t go very far before collapsing into freakout mode.


The Trip (1967).

Not a song but included here for that “Lovely Sort of Death” tag. Written by Jack Nicholson! With Dennis Hopper as the acid dealer! See the trailer here, then watch the whole film here.


Lost Soul In Disillusion (November, 1967).

Hard to imagine anyone in London would have heard this in 1967. The Power of Beckett were a Montreal garage group who only released two singles. Lost Soul In Disillusion turned up years later on compilation albums.

Continue reading “Lyrical Substance Deliberated”

Weekend links 12


Simulation No. 136 (1973); From the Archigram Revival Project.

Scientific American looks at DMT: “the only psychedelic known to occur naturally in the human body”. Related: Hofmann’s Elixir: LSD and the New Eleusis, a book from the Beckley Foundation Press.

• “People weren’t quite sure what this guy was doing.” Colin Marshall talks to Eno biographer David Sheppard.

• LA FAN presents its debut group show, Eve in the Garden of Lost Angels, curated by Milla Zeltzer, at Optical Allusion Gallery, downtown Los Angeles, from May 15 to June 12, 2010.

Masturbation: literature’s last taboo. The words “last” and “taboo” should never be used together; taboos don’t vanish, they migrate.

Announcing the Text: Development of the Title Page, 1470–1900.

The Anachronism is an award-wining Steampunk short about two children who discover the wreck of a giant squid submarine on a beach near their home.

Out There is a brand new, bi-annual, international magazine for gay men and their friends.

The Big Picture looks at the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull.

Expo 2010 opens in Shanghai on May 1st.

• (Walter) Benjamin in Extremis.

Nathalie returns to Bomarzo.

• Acronymic songs of the week: Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (1967) by The Beatles; The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam’s Dice (1967) by The Jimi Hendrix Experience; London Social Degree (1968) by Billy Nicholls; Love’s Secret Domain (1991) by Coil.