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The Beatles’ Psychedelic Nuggets

by Justin Farrar

The Beatles’ Psychedelic Nuggets

About this playlist

In the mid ’60s, before a backdrop of social upheaval, political turmoil and unrest, The Beatles helped lead the global rock scene into the psychedelic era. Over a string of groundbreaking albums -- Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Magical Mystery Tour and “The White Album” -- they opened up pop music to bold new sounds and ideas. Consciousness-expanding substances certainly helped fuel the band’s growing interest in studio experimentation. But equally important was their budding curiosity in Eastern mysticism, as well as avant-garde music, art and literature. One of psychedelia’s greatest works, 1966’s “Tomorrow Never Knows” is a lysergic marriage of lyrics appropriated from the Tibetan Book of the Dead, droning Indian instrumentation, and tape loops inspired by German electronic composer Karlheinz Stockhausen.

Between 1966 and ’68, The Beatles’ sonic feats only grew more daring with each piece: “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” “I Am the Walrus,” and “A Day in the Life,” arguably the greatest example of symphonic pop ever produced. Growing by leaps and bounds as an artist, George Harrison proved indispensable to the band’s psychedelic phase. In addition to exposing his bandmates to Indian instruments like the sitar and tamboura, he single-handedly pioneered raga rock on tunes such as “Within You Without You” and “Blue Jay Way.” This playlist captures The Beatles at their most far out and radical. Press play and, in the words of John Lennon, “Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream.”

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