None of them have any business being associated with a list of the best psychedelic rock songs. Yet … here they are.
Someone has to be last, and their 1968 collaboration “Just Dropped In (to See What Condition My Condition Was In)” slides nicely into the 100th slot on PsychedelicSight’s list.
The record — by ex-folkies the First Edition — got plenty of airplay in 1968, peaking at No. 5 on the singles charts.
The unknown Rogers sang the number with authority, but he wasn’t the band’s lead singer. Rogers played bass and was known as “Hippie Kenny” around that time.
If San Francisco hadn’t declared the Death of the Hippie a year earlier, the success of this faux freakout would have done the trick.
Plenty of mainstream musicians and producers sought to cash in on the hippie craze, but most confined themselves to what Pete Townshend called “the post-psychedelic wetness” — MOR music dressed for success in Nehru jackets.
“Just Dropped In” strays into acid rock territory, not entirely unsuccessfully. Campbell, as a session man, lures in listeners with some slithery backward guitar licks. Terry Williams, the First Edition’s rock-minded lead guitarist, takes it from there, doing a tasty Jorma Kaukonen-style solo near the end. The beat came from Hal Blaine, the drummer on “Good Vibrations” and many other (real) psychedelic songs.
Mike Post’s production is top-notch and the (by now outdated) psychedelic studio effects kept things palatable. Like a provocative sauce of Velveeta.
The lyrics, by Newbury, offer a cautionary tale about LSD. Not surprisingly, they’re hysterical:
I found my mind in a brown paper bag, but then…
I tripped on a cloud and fell-a eight miles high
… I saw so much I broke my mind
“Just Dropped In” earned its keep on Top 40 radio. A lot of people liked the catchy song back then, and a lot of people like it today. Jimi Hendrix allegedly told Rogers he was a big fan of the single.
(Rogers, Newbury and Campbell all went on to wildly successful mainstream solo careers. Producer Post, who hated Rogers’ vocal on the song, made a fortune writing TV themes.)
As with so many ’60s hits, “Just Dropped In (to See What Condition My Condition Was In)” enjoyed an ironic afterlife. The Coen Brothers used it, with great enthusiasm and cheezy effectiveness, in “The Big Lebowski.”
* Trivia: The First Edition and Byrds member Gene Clark — co-writer of “Eight Miles High” — were all veterans of the New Christy Minstrels. Newbury and Jerry Lee Lewis recorded “Just Dropped In” before the First Edition version hit paydirt. Newbury’s version is worth a listen, below.)