Modern Man’s Quest For Psychedelics: Spirituality/Religion In Lyrics Part 1


The past is peppered with many psychedelic masters: Jimi Hendrix, The Beach Boys, Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, The Velvet Underground, The 13th Floor Elevators, and many many more. Many of the musicians mentioned treated their music as a religious experiences an awakening of the mind. Some of them used psychotropic means and others were just high on life during the creative process. It is these artists below that owe a lot to the many artists of the 60’s and 70’s.

I myself am not the most religious man you’ll find; however, I’m a moral man. During my school studies you’d often find me taking religion and philosophy classes because while I was interested in the topics, I had no idea what the hell I wanted to do. How does that apply here? Well, with so much music out there today there’s so much to explore. Especially in modern day context.

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I’m going to be treating modern day as the 21st century, 2000 to present. Also, I know that I left The Flaming Lips out, but I did say this was part 1. So without further ado lets open our third eye, heart, mind, body, spirit, or whatever your ethos opens -or closes- depending on how you feel and delve into our first group of artists. Also, let me know what you might enjoy with a Part 2.

“The Floating Coffin” – Thee Oh Sees

“Lay on right down
Drink upwards sky
Say look away
God is in my eye”

“Sails filled with sky
Laughing as we rise
Sing son on high
Sung without a mind”

Who knew that Thee Oh Sees could look to “religion” for a psychedelic death. If I’m interpreting the song correctly it seems the coffin is literally floating up to meet God. Then with the meeting taken place, they bypass it and go on to higher heights.

“People Vultures” – King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard

God approaches
Final hearing
What else have I got left to spew down?”

While the music video doesn’t necessarily parallel the song, it’s clear that this is final judgement for those who have taken more then they’ve given. The meaning is obvious but, you now get to watch a interesting music video that you might not have known existed.

“Sniper at the Gates of Heaven” – The Black Angels

“What is it like when hell surrounds you
How hot does it get, I think I’ve already felt it
Is there any way out, you better find one
Where do you go, down down the (no idea)
When there’s no one here in this world of truth
Who knows first hand, so just wake up wake up wake up”

Taking their name from The Velvet Underground’s “The Black Angel’s Death Song” you know you’re in for a treat. One of my favorite psychedelic classics has to be The Black Angel’s Passover. An album that listens like Apocalypse Now in audio form and that’s why “Sniper at the Gates of Heaven” stands out. Lead vocalist Alex Mass and co. create the perfect metaphor for Vietnam by substituting hell for the haphazard combat and sweltering jungles. In it’s darkest interpretation, solace could be brought to a soldier with one final sniper bullet.

“Talk to God” – GOAT

“Call my name when you talk to God”

I was able to find an interview via with member Christian Johansson. The question was posed, “‘Call my name when you talk to God’ is what you sing in the beginning of the album so, what should I call you when and if that time comes?” Christian’s response: “I think it is a wonderful phrase. I can’t tell you what it means for the one who wrote it since it is written by one of our poets. Interpret it any way you want. For me it means that we are all God, or carry God within us. So if you gonna call on God, just call on your sister or brother.” I really like the sentiment but, when I hear the lyric I tend to skew it towards the sexual – religion and sex are something that can go hand in hand. Hey it’s all up for interpretation.

“Waiting Around for Grace”-POND

“Don’t you think I want it too, baby, when I look at you
You’ll miss the golden moment when everything aligned
Did it go on underground without a soul around?
Don’t that make you wonder how God found the time?”

This one it a little tough, but I feel that it might look a little towards creationism. The fact that there wasn’t a soul around and God finding the time make me lean towards the seven days of creation. What do you think?

“I Am The Antichrist to You” – Kishi Bashi

“And my heart it shook with fear
I’m a coward behind a shield and spear
Take this sword and throw it far
Let it shine under the morning star”

“Who are you? Who am I to you?
I am the antichrist to you
fallen from the sky with grace
into your arms race”

What a cool artist. While not the most psychedelic song on the list it’s a great introduction to the artist. Bashi’s beauty comes through in a tale that’s all about the war between God and Lucifer. Lucifer has been referred to as the morning star, the brightest of all the angels. There’s also other subtle nods with the lyric “fallen from the sky with grace
into your arms race” shows this a struggle full of love. God and Lucifer had a deep emotional commitment to the world.

“Bo Diddley Was the 7th Son” – The UFO Club

“Then that angel came down one day
gave me eyes that see both ways
float an eye above the screen
Liftin’ a flask from my dreams
Bo Diddley was the 7th son”

Not only is this one of the more psychedelic songs here, it is the tale of the great bluesman Bo Diddley being infused with the God given gifts of the 7th son. What is the 7th son you ask? Well, it’s the powers are granted to him by God or the gods because of his birth order.

“Brahman” – Holy Wave

“Some day, I’ll see everything, Always”

While the lyrics here are simple, the concept almost literally grasps all. While it can be described as bliss, Hinduism can use it as the single binding unity behind the diversity in all that exists in the universe. In a Buddhist context Brahman can be classifies as Hinduisms enlightenment. This is why “Some day, I’ll see everything, Always” makes sense.

“Walkin’ With A Woman” – Rose Windows

“I was walkin’ down the road
when the devil did approach me
with a pocket full of gold
he said, my little darling
let me take you to the promise land
and i said, “oh no devil. Just leave me where I stand”
cause I was thinking about drinking with my old man, Uncle Sam”

Temptation is key with this song. The Rose Windows were all about atmosphere and this song is no different. Are you able to turn the devil away?

“Metanoia” – MGMT

“This one’s alive
The tail is breathing
And she’s listening
Kill the serpent
Divide, disperse and grow
Into an oak
A silver lining on a black scale”

Everyone knows “Time to Pretend,” but did you know of the 13-minute B-side epic released along side it? Well if you didn’t you’re truly missing out. “Metanoia” in the lyrics presented takes a stab at the devil, but it also aims at psychology and Hinduism. The cosmic referee on the cover and spoken about during the song refers to Carl Jung and a repeating theme is the mention of Satcitananda which could be speaking of the Indian born guru. It can also link back to a concept of bliss in Hinduism which is called Brahman. Looks like Holy Wave might have been on to something.

Photo: By Tamasin Ramsey [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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