No. 100: ‘Just Dropped In’

kenny rogers band first edition - Just Dropped InWhat do Kenny Rogers, Glen Campbell and Mickey Newbury have in common?

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Mike Post’s production is top-notch and the (by now outdated) psychedelic studio effects kept things palatable.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

big lebowski psychedelic fantasy just dropped in songThe invocation of the Byrds’ great psychedelic classic still a rankler after all these years.*

“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.)

Comments

  1. Astroman says:

    What’s more Psychedelic than opening your song with a backwards fiddle? To the First Edition, apparently nothing, for I think that’s exactly how this song opens (not with backwards guitar, as stated in the above article, but my ears could be deceiving me). Even exploitation can have merit, because if this was an attempt to cash in on the Psychedelic/Acid Rock craze, then it’s a heck of an exploit.

    Even with a long career of boring the masses to death with songs about Gamblers, County Cowards, and Stream Islands, this is still the best thing Kenny Rogers ever did (I still remember as a young child riding in the back seat of my parents’ car and being forced to endure the man bellowing “You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille”). Despite the throw-away lyrics and country-tinged music, this is still a Psychedelic classic.

    Although the First Edition would go on to produce such vomit-inducing drivel as “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town” and “Ruben James,” they nonetheless left one shining jewel in the Psychedelic crown. And as an aside, my original 45 plays the flipside “Shadow In The Corner Of Your Mind” on the side labeled ‘Just Dropped In,” and vice-versa. Does anyone else have one like that? (And no, I haven’t “tore my mind on a jagged sky.” It really DOES play like that!)

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