The Beatles’ Psychedelic Rock Songs

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. They became widely regarded as the greatest and most influential band in history. With a sound rooted in skiffle, beat and 1950s rock and roll, they later utilised several genres, ranging from pop ballads to psychedelic rock, often incorporating classical and other elements in innovative ways.

“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”

“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” is a psychedelic rock song by the English rock band the Beatles. It was written by John Lennon and credited to the Lennon–McCartney partnership. The song was first released on the album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967. The song’s title is derived from a drawing done by Lennon’s young son, Julian, who saw Lucy O’Donnell, a little girl he knew, skipping through a field of daisies. Julian Lennon said: “In Liverpool, people used to say strange things all the time. My dad once said [to me], ‘Let’s go for a walk down Penny Lane.’ That would be four words that totally flip your life upside down.”

According to Lucy Vodden (née O’Donnell), she was the real-life inspirational figure behind “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”. Vodden, who was then five years old, stated: “I remember Julian coming home with a drawing of me. He had used crayons to colour in my eyes and hair … What he actually said when he came home was that he’d seen me in an airplane and I was like an angel … Imagine his surprise when years later [in 1967], he hears Paul McCartney singing ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’.”

“Strawberry Fields Forever”

“Strawberry Fields Forever” is a song by the English rock band the Beatles, written by John Lennon and credited to the Lennon–McCartney songwriting partnership. It was released on 13 February 1967 as a double A-sided single with “Penny Lane”. It was the last new song recorded by the band for their album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, although it was not included on that album due to its late completion.

The song originated with Lennon’s childhood memories of playing in the garden of Strawberry Field, a Salvation Army children’s home near his childhood home in Woolton, Liverpool. He later recalled: “It was started off about Strawberry Fields, about my memories as a child. Those days are all gone now, but they’re all in my mind forever.” The composition reflects Lennon’s wishes to return to those happy times: “taking you down where I used to go / I sit beside my window / And I watch the cars / And sometime they’re slow / And sometimes they go”.

Lennon completed two takes of the song in October 1966; these were combined into a single stereo master track. The other Beatles were unhappy with this arrangement and insisted that it be reworked by Producer George Martin. The arrangement incorporates numerous synthesizers played by Martin and sound effects recorded at Abbey Road Studios; including reversed cymbals, feedback, harmonicas played through phasers and tremolos, and sound effects designed to imitate instruments such as Indian percussion and bird calls. Strawberry Fields Forever remains one of popular music’s most highly-regarded psychedelic tracks. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked it No. 3 on their list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”, and it was ranked No. 306 on Pitchfork Media’s 500 Greatest Songs of the 20th Century in 2014..

“I Am the Walrus”

“I Am the Walrus” is a song by the English rock band the Beatles that was released in November 1967. The song was written by John Lennon and credited to the Lennon–McCartney songwriting partnership. It was inspired by two incidents: an acid trip that Lennon had experienced, and a story he had read in The Daily Mirror about a teacher being sentenced for showing children a film containing nudity.

Lennon used the illusion of a walrus as an allegory for the surrender of reason; “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together”. The song is one of the highlights of Magical Mystery Tour, and its 45-second introductory crescendo, featuring brass, strings and heavy percussion, was singled out for praise by The Times’s music critic William Mann. “I Am the Walrus” was ranked number four68 on Rolling Stone’s list of “The 100 Greatest Beatles Songs”.

“A Day in the Life”

“A Day in the Life” is a song by the English rock band the Beatles that was released as the final track of their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it is widely regarded as one of the finest and most important works in popular music history.

“A Day in the Life” consists of two distinct sections; in the first section, Lennon comes up with an arrangement for an average day, while McCartney provides amiddle-eight section after which the song builds to a crescendo with a series of orchestral glissandos. The music was composed using Lennon and McCartney’s own experiences as well as those of their friends and acquaintances. Although the lyrics initially appear to be about mundane events, they are actually overflowing with hidden meanings and symbolism.

The song was met with critical acclaim upon its release, with many critics calling it one of the best songs on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked “A Day in the Life” 28th on their list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. The song has also been included in many television and film soundtracks, including I Am Sam (2001), Forrest Gump (1994), Vanilla Sky (2001), Moulin Rouge! (2001), Across the Universe (2007) and Love Actually (2003).

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