Throughout the history of time, music has changed, grown, and developed into many unique and different genres and broken off into many interesting directions. Among one of these rather recent and distinct groups comes the genre of psychedelic rock portrayed by groups like Dr. Dog and Wilco. Psychedelic rock is considered controversial simply because of its origin and the habits it produces, encourages, and signifies in present day culture. The genre of psychedelic rock uses ragas, which literally means “color” or “hue”, and the drones of Indian music to create its individual and mood enhancing sound.
This genre is a style of rock that comes from the cultures of the United States as well as the United Kingdom in 1960’s in which the use of psychedelic or hallucinogenic drugs were popular. This music is meant to reflect the feeling and effects of the common drugs and to replicate the experience of a trip from certain drugs such as cannabis, peyote, mescaline, and LSD.
This trend began in America first in San Francisco, California and slowly spread through the country. This genre of music still exists today and one form of that music is from the band Dr.
Dog which originates from West Grove, Pennsylvania and consists of five members, Tony Leaman who plays the bass, Scott McMicken who is the lead guitar player, Frank McElroy who also plays the rhythm guitar, Zach Miller on the keyboard, and Eric Slide on the drums. Much of this music is relaxed and tranquil, not as much hype and energy as typical rock. To create something as unique as that of Psychedelic rock, or acid rock, there are certain instruments that are used to execute the sound.
Commonly used instruments in these kinds of bands include the electric guitar, percussion, keyboards, and exotic instruments such as the tabla and the sitar. These exotic instruments add a new element that was never found in western culture before. These new types of foreign instruments create a new sound and sensation for the listener. Since the whole point of psychedelic rock is to reproduce the awareness of a high from certain drugs, it has many social issues that come along with it.
Many of the songs of this genre allude to the use or effects of drugs and the music resembles that emotion. The dissonance of the tones within each song creates the feeling of a drug effect and adds to the large subculture of the twentieth century. Although the music did not necessarily encourage the use of drugs to listen to the music, it had a profound effect on people of that generation. The hippie subculture of the sixties and the seventies were some of the people that surrounded this type of music.
That doesn’t mean that they had to do drugs, but it means they most likely did. These were the people who went against the societal norms and expectations of the era and were engaged in music like psychedelic rock. The lyrics to most of Dr. Dog’s songs are quite ambiguous. Each song has a meaning that’s personal to the individual who is hearing it. What the listener takes away is something of their own perception and thought process. Through my own interpretation of the lyrics, this part of a song called “The Breeze” refers directly to why this type of music is controversial.