Embarking on a psychedelic trip, you’ve probably put together a playlist the you know will help you navigate the vast seas of psychedelia. That playlist may include more than little psychedelic rock songs to help guide your way. You may start with a firm direction, but the next thing you know, the winds of psychedelia have blown you a little off course. Just as a sailor relies on the compass, sextant, and the stars to navigate, those venturing into the realms of psychedelics often find solace and direction in the embrace of psychedelic music. The right classic psychedelic rock song can act as your north star, a beacon illuminating the path forward, setting the mood, and profoundly influencing the overall experience.
Music, in its essence, is a powerful emotional catalyst. Combined with psychedelics’ heightened sensitivity and perceptual shifts, the right songs can evoke a spectrum of emotions, from profound euphoria to deep introspection. Multiple studies have shown that music can alter how we perceive our psychedelic experiences. From the modulation of LSD visuals to the musical tools used in psychedelic-assisted therapy, we know something as seemingly simple as a good playlist can help you have the best possible psychedelic experience.(1, 2)
A well-curated playlist can serve as a gentle hand, leading you through the peaks and valleys of your journey, ensuring that the experience remains positive, enlightening, and transformative.
Moreover, the auditory landscape you immerse yourself in can act as an anchor. In moments of overwhelming sensations or when the boundaries of reality seem to blur, familiar melodies or harmonious rhythms can offer comfort and grounding. They can remind you of your intention, your surroundings, and the transient nature of the experience.
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While the psychedelic voyage is inherently unpredictable, having the perfect music can be like having a trusted companion by your side. It can enhance, guide, and comfort.
As you prepare for your expedition, consider the auditory companions you want on your adventure to the inner cosmos of your psyche.
With that in mind, here are our top ten picks for psychedelic songs from the classic rock genre to listen to while you explore the inner workings of your mind.
The Best Classic Psychedelic Rock Songs
The Beatles, “Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds” (1967)
The Beatles’ Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, from their groundbreaking 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, is a kaleidoscopic journey into a dreamscape of vivid imagery and surreal wonder. Often associated with the psychedelic movement, the song paints a tapestry of fantastical visions, from “tangerine trees” to “marmalade skies.” While many speculate about the song’s inspirations, which John Lennon maintains was based on a drawing from his three-year-old son Julian. Lennon says Julian drew his friend Lucy O’Donnell floating in the sky surrounded by glittering gems. No matter the origins, its true magic lies in its ability to transport listeners to a realm where imagination reigns supreme. John Lennon’s evocative vocals, paired with innovative instrumentation, create an auditory experience that is both otherworldly and deeply resonant. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds is not just a song; it’s an invitation to explore the limitless expanse of the human imagination, making it a timeless testament to The Beatles’ artistry and the boundless possibilities for human creativity.
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From the whimsical tales of The Beatles to the introspective musings of Pink Floyd, these songs not only defined an era but also transcended time, resonating with generations of listeners. While the word “psychedelic” might conjure images of tie-dye shirts and flower power, its essence lies in exploring consciousness, the challenge of conventions, and celebrating the human spirit. These tracks, whether strictly psychedelic or merely influenced by the movement, encapsulate this central idea, inviting listeners to embark on a sonic voyage of discovery, introspection, and boundless imagination.
Whether preparing for a psychedelic journey or simply seeking a musical escape, these songs offer a gateway to a realm where the boundaries of reality blur and the wonders of the mind come to the fore. Plug in your headphones, tune out the world, and let your spirit soar to the rhythms of the universe. Safe travels, fellow psychonauts.
This material is not intended as a replacement or substitute for any legal or medical advice. Always consult a medical professional about your health needs. Psychedelics are widely illegal in the United States, and readers should always be informed about local, state, and federal regulations regarding psychedelics or other drugs.
- Kaelen, M., Roseman, L., Kahan, J., Santos-Ribeiro, A., Orban, C., Lorenz, R., Barrett, F. S., Bolstridge, M., Williams, T., Williams, L., Wall, M. B., Feilding, A., Muthukumaraswamy, S., Nutt, D. J., & Carhart-Harris, R. (2016). LSD modulates music-induced imagery via changes in parahippocampal connectivity. European Neuropsychopharmacology, 26(7), 1099–1109. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.euroneuro.2016.03.018
- O’Callaghan, C., Hubik, D. J., Dwyer, J., Williams, M., & Ross, M. (2020). Experience of Music Used With Psychedelic Therapy: A Rapid Review and Implications. Journal of Music Therapy, 57(3), 282–314. https://doi.org/10.1093/jmt/thaa006