HIGH NOTES: An Acid Trip on a Third Date, in Music

J and I met on Tinder and developed a relationship equal parts unconventional and beautiful. Our first date was vegan food and a late night beach walk, our second was mushrooms, and our third, perhaps the richest with meaning, was acid.

J had a few hits left over from a prior trip, which he was waiting to take with the right person. I had a few tabs a friend had given me to microdose. Together, we had enough for one hit and one re-up each.

It started off in my sunlit bedroom, with its lacy curtains and white king bed, where we each mixed the liquid with a lemon drink I’d bought and drank in down with anticipation.

Then, it transitioned to the sun, the shine of Venice Beach, where we ambled down the boardwalk, stopped to chat between cacti, and lay in sand where fleeting traces of mermaids scampered. Feeling how burned we were getting, we bought sunscreen, and he tenderly rubbed mine into my skin, a gaze of deep affection on his face. Once he was done, his eyes diverted back to the ground.

Back to the room we went, where we re-upped and put on music. After a lull in the song selections, I told him I’d channel the next song to play from above. For some reason, “Lazy Eye” by the Silversun Pickups popped into my head. I found it on Youtube.

“This song always made me sad,” I told J.


“I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life / But it’s not quite right,” I quoted the opening line. “It’s like when you’re trying to make a relationship work.” Tears came to my eyes. I couldn’t explain further.

“Did you notice something special pass between us, when you were putting on my sunscreen?” I asked as we held each other in piles of blankets and pillows.

“I know what you mean,” he said.

“I want to look you in the eye again.”

He peered up for a second, then hid his face in a blanket. “It’s scary,” he said.

“To appear sad / With the same old decent lazy eye / Fixed to rest on you / Aim free and so untrue,” the Silversun Pickups sang.

“What do you feel you need to hide?” I asked.

“Do you think I’m hiding?”

“Well, when you’re afraid to look people in the eye, there’s usually… shame.”

He buried himself further, then pulled himself up to meet my gaze at last. His eyes looked particularly beautiful in that moment, like sunflowers in a field.

My own eyes met his as I whispered, “You have nothing to hide.”

“Still the same old decent lazy eye / Straight through your gaze / That’s why I said I relate / I said we relate / It’s so fun to relate,” the music continued. “It’s the room, the sun, and the sky / The room, the sun, and the sky.”

After the room and the sun came the sky, the satellite-speckled Santa Monica sky that we lay under and talked about the siren sounds nearby, the song of the sirens, how Odysseus plugged his ears and Oedipus stabbed out his eyes.

“Everyone’s so intimately rearranged / Everyone’s so focused clearly with such shine.”

Back in the room, now full of sand from the sun and the sky, he told me about his goal to be more adventurous, inspiring me to play another song.

“I read with every broken heart / We should become more adventurous,” Rilo Kiley sang. “And if you banish me from your profits / And if I get banished from the kingdom up above / I’d sacrifice money and heaven all for love / Let me be loved / Let me be loved.”

We fell down a Rilo Kiley rabbit hole, and “The Absence of God” came on: “And Rob says you love, love, love / Then you die / I’ve watched him while sleeping / And seen him crying with closed eyes.”

He decided to go home. I wondered if the intimacy scared him. It didn’t scare me anymore.

“And Morgan says maybe love won’t let you down / All of your failures are training grounds / And just as your back’s turned / You’ll be surprised, she says / As your solitude subsides.”

Our fourth date was molly, our fifth was a cacao ceremony followed by a sex party, and our sixth was a San Pedro ceremony. After the latter, we lay in my bed talking again, and J told me about a friendship of his that almost became a relationship. “It’s like that song,” he told me. “Like what I’d been waiting for all my life… but not quite right.”

“You know,” I said, “that’s how I feel about us.”

“Me too.”

“No wonder I picked that song.”

“Nailed it.”

Then we gazed into each other’s eyes, eyes unafraid and unashamed, eyes that cried open, eyes that were more adventurous, eyes that were lazy no more.

HIGH NOTES: 7 Songs That Were Inspired by Acid Trips

For decades, musicians have been known to experiment with LSD to stimulate their creative process. Because of the drug’s effects on the serotonergic system, people tripping on it not only experience warped sounds and images that might inspire music and lyrics but also become more open to experimenting with different styles. The result of these effects was no less than a musical revolution in the ’60s and ’70s and innovations in music that have continued up to the present day.

Many of the songs you’ve listened to have probably been inspired by acid trips, whether you realize it or not. Here are some songs that probably wouldn’t have existed as we know them without the help of lysergic acid diethylamide.

“Acid Rain” by Chance the Rapper

Hip hop may not be the genre you typically associate with LSD, but Chance the Rapper told MTV in 2013 that the drug inspired his album Acid Rap. This is perhaps most obvious on the track “Acid Rain,” where he raps, “Kicked off my shoes, tripped acid in the rain.” The song, like several on the album, is a tribute to his late friend Rodney Kyles Jr.: “My big homie died young; just turned older than him / I seen it happen, I seen it happen, I see it always / He still be screaming, I see his demons in empty hallways / I trip to make the fall shorter.” Presumably, his use of the word “trip” indicates that his psychedelic experiences helped him through the loss of his friend.

“Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” by The Flaming Lips

Though The Flaming Lips haven’t come out and said that this nonsensical story of a karate black belt’s battle with humanity-destroying robots was inspired by LSD, there are a few clues, the first being the weirdness of the whole story. The second clue is the album cover, which features the number 25 on a wall behind the robot, as James Stafford at Diffuser has observed. We also know that lead singer Wayne Coyne is a fan of LSD; he once said that the psychedelic “SuperFreak” video with Miley Cyrus was “originally intended to be for a song that has a reference to the drug LSD.”

“White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane

This list would not be complete without “White Rabbit,” possibly the trippiest song known to humankind. “It became the signature for the people who were doing the things it had reference to,” the band’s bassist Jack Casady told Louder Sound. The song is based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, which in turn is based on — you guessed it — acid. “One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small… logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead,” Grace Slick sang, evoking the visual distortions of psychedelic trips.

“I Am the Walrus” by The Beatles

The only song to rival “White Rabbit” as the world’s most obviously LSD-inspired song is “I Am the Walrus.” “I am he as you are he as you are me,” the opening line philosophizes before segueing into descriptions of “egg men,” “yellow matter custard dripping from a dog’s eye,” and a “pornographic priestess.” In case that doesn’t convince you that the song was written on acid, here’s a quote from John Lennon: “The first line was written on one acid trip one weekend, the second line on another acid trip the next weekend, and it was filled in after I met Yoko.” (I would’ve included “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” but Lennon has said this name actually came from the title of a drawing by his son. Still, it’s very possible that it was written on acid, too.)

“Lysergic Bliss” by of Montreal

With their wacky lyrics and colorful, over-the-top shows, of Montreal has a reputation for embracing the weird. This song leaves no mystery regarding its meaning, with a title referencing LSD’s full laboratory name, lysergic acid diethylamide. The song, however, appears to be not just about LSD but also about falling in love (perhaps falling in love on LSD?), with lyrics like “If we were a pair of jigsaw puzzle pieces / We would connect so perfectly.” But other lines like “Wearing an olive drab but feeling somehow inside opalescent” sound more like they’re about the drug itself.

“Acid Tongue” by Jenny Lewis

“Acid Tongue,” the eponymous song off Jenny Lewis’s first self-titled album, references Lewis’s first acid trip as a young teen in the line, “I’ve been down to Dixie And dropped acid on my tongue / Tripped upon the land ’til enough was enough.” She described the trip to Rolling Stone: “It culminated in a scene not unlike something from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas—the scene where Hunter S. Thompson has to lock the lawyer in the bathroom. I sort of assumed the Hunter S. Thompson character and my friend – she had taken far too much – decided to pull a butcher knife out of the kitchen drawer and chase me around the house. … At the end of that experience, my mom was out of town on a trip of her own and she returned to find me about 5 lbs lighter and I had—I was so desperate to get back to normal I decided to drink an entire gallon of orange juice. I saw that it was in the fridge and decided that this would sort of flush the LSD out of my system, but I didn’t realize that it did exactly the opposite.”

“Black Peter” by The Grateful Dead

Robert Hunter, a songwriter who frequently worked with The Grateful Dead, consumed apple juice containing about a gram of crystal LSD worth around $50,000 in 1969, after which he experienced firsthand the deaths of JFK, Lincoln, and other assassinated public figures. This scary and expensive trip paid off, though, because it inspired him to write “Black Peter,” which recounts this experience of dying in lyrics like “All of my friends come to see me last night / I was laying in my bed and dying / Annie Beauneu from Saint Angel / Say ‘the weather down here so fine.'”

VIDEO REVIEW: Lana Del Rey “Freak”


The flower princess of pop nihilism, Lana Del Rey, returned this week with another installment of her haunting visual diaries with the video for “Freak” from 2015’s Honeymoon, featuring none other than the sensual prince of sardonicism Father John Misty. Lana leads us on a disturbingly enchanting 11-minute trip through her dizzying rose tinted world where the word “baby” is seductive currency.

Allegedly inspired by Josh Tillman’s (Father John Misty) own acid trip at a Taylor Swift concert, “Freak” reads as a modern day Charles Manson/Jim Jones-esque hallucinational tale complete with Kool-Aid and airy angel followers donning sandy blonde hair and wispy white clothes. The video opens with Tillman manically waving a large walking stick into the air at a California sky as Lady Lana leads him to a sandy overlook. It would be safe to assume that Tillman is the cult leader, with his Manson beard, but it is revealed to us that it is actually Lana who calls the shots as she places a square of acid on his tongue. It is from this point that we find ourselves with Lana, alone, in what is presumably her cabin lair paired with juxtaposing flashes of her and Tillman tripping through the hills. Eventually, we are shown the ethereal gaggle of disciples draped over a tranced out Tillman. Lana, all the while, is sloppily drinking her own ritualistic Kool-Aid concoction of beguilement.

“Freak” trails off into silence as Tillman dips Lana in a twisted waltz engulfed by white light and smoke fading into heavenly ether. Enter Debussy’s 1905 “Clair de Lune” as the cast is entangled with each other underwater in a baptismal dance that challenges death and rebirth, with a paramount acuteness to the push and pull relationship between the possessed and the possessor.

Could this video be artistic coding for Lana’s recently troubled encounters with fandom? Possibly. But more than likely “Freak” is a call to, well, freaks, and when our velveteen temptress coos: “Baby, if you wanna leave/come to California/be a freak like me, too,” I can’t help but think this video is simply meant as a captivating heretic anthem for the dazed and suffused.

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