The List of Psychedelic Rock Songs You Need to Hear

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


This is a list of the must-hear psychedelic rock songs. It contains songs that are essential for any fan of the genre, as well as those that are simply great examples of psychedelic rock.

The Psychedelic Furs- “The Ghost in You”

The Psychedelic Furs are an English rock band founded in February 1977. Led by singer Richard Butler and his brother Tim Butler on bass guitar, the Psychedelic Furs are one of the many acts spawned from the British post-punk scene. Their debut album, The Psychedelic Furs, was released in March 1980.

“The Ghost in You” is a song by the Psychedelic Furs, released as a single from the band’s 1984 album Mirror Moves. It was written by Tim Butler and produced by Todd Rundgren. The single peaked at number three on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play chart and number 28 on the UK Singles Chart. In October 2011, NME placed it at number 73 on its “150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years” list.

The Doors- “Light My Fire”

The Doors were one of the most controversial rock bands of the 1960s, thanks in large part to the charismatic and often unpredictable antics of their singer, Jim Morrison. “Light My Fire” was the first single from their 1967 self-titled debut album, and it quickly became a smash hit, reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song is a perfect example of psychedelic rock, with its trippy, effects-laden guitar solo and Morrison’s ethereal lyrics.

Pink Floyd- “Interstellar Overdrive”

“Interstellar Overdrive” is the third track on Pink Floyd’s 1967 debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Written by the band’s Syd Barrett, it was originally titled ” Interstellar Overdrive Part 1″. The song is structured around an incessant, droning guitar riff and features Barrett’s distorted vocals. Throughout the song, Barrett plays his electric guitar through a fuzzbox and a Binson Echorec delay machine.

The Grateful Dead- “Dark Star”

“Dark Star” is a Grateful Dead classic and arguably the most famous psychedelic rock song of all time. It was often played live, with the band jamming out for over 20 minutes at a time. The song was originally released on the 1968 album “Anthem of the Sun” and later appeared on the live albums “Live/Dead” and “History of the Grateful Dead, Volume One: Bear’s Choice.”

Jimi Hendrix- “Purple Haze”

Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” is a perfect example of psychedelic rock. The song features Hendrix’s signature guitar playing, which is full of feedback and distortion. The lyrics are also full of drug references, which was typical of psychedelic rock songs.

The Velvet Underground- “I’m Waiting for the Man”

“I’m Waiting for the Man” is a song by the American rock band the Velvet Underground, released on their 1967 debut album The Velvet Underground & Nico. Written by Lou Reed in 1964, it is sung from the point of view of a heroin addict waiting for his dealer on a street corner in Harlem, New York City.

The song is notable for its spare, minimalistic arrangement and its use of drone-like harmonic structures which would come to be associated with minimalist music. It is also one of the band’s most energetic and uptempo songs, with a driving rock beat and guitar riffs that have been described as “jarring and make your teeth hurt”.

The Beatles- “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”

The Beatles are one of the most important and influential bands of all time, so it’s no surprise that one of their songs would make this list. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” is a psychedelic masterpiece that takes the listener on a journey through the mind of John Lennon. The song is believed to be about LSD, and it’s easy to see why. The lyrics are cryptic and mysterious, and the music is otherworldly. If you’re looking for a mind-bending psychedelic experience, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” is a must-hear.

The Rolling Stones- “Paint It, Black”

The Rolling Stones were one of the first British Invasion bands to bring psychedelic sounds to the mainstream with their 1966 single “Paint It, Black.” The song features a distorted sitar riff played by Stones guitarist Brian Jones, and it’s this eastern-influenced sound that helped to set “Paint It, Black” apart from anything else on the radio at the time. The song would go on to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and it has since been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

The Kinks- “Tired of Waiting for You”

The Kinks wrote some of the best pop songs of the 1960s, but they were also capable of penning more sprawling, experimental material. “Tired of Waiting for You” is a perfect example of the latter, with its strange arrangement and use of feedback. Combined with Ray Davies’ wistful lyrics about being held back by a lover, it’s a perfect example of psychedelia at its best.

The Who- “I Can’t Explain”

“I Can’t Explain” is a song by the English rock band The Who, written by Pete Townshend. It was their first hit single, reaching the Top 10 in the UK charts in January 1965.

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