The Top Psychedelic Rock Songs of All Time

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,

A countdown of the best psychedelic rock songs of all time, as voted by the experts. From The Beatles to The Doors, Pink Floyd to The Grateful Dead, find out which songs made the list.

The Beatles – “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. Credited to Lennon–McCartney, it was primarily written by John Lennon with contributions from Paul McCartney. It is ranked number 26 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time as well as fifth on their 2010 list of the 100 Greatest Beatles Songs.

“A Day in the Life” is a song that reflects on an ordinary day and how life can be full of surprises. The song features a classic Lennon-McCartney partnership, with each contributing different parts to the song. The overall message of “A Day in the Life” is one of hope and optimism, despite the challenges that life may bring.

The Doors – “Light My Fire”

The Doors – “Light My Fire”
From their self-titled debut album, The Doors’ “Light My Fire” was an instant classic and their first and only song to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100. With its psychedelic elements, Spanish flavor and unrivaled swagger, “Light My Fire” remains one of the most influential rock songs of all time.

Pink Floyd – “Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2”

“Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2” is a song by the English rock band Pink Floyd. It was released as a single in 1979, and reached number one in several countries, including the UK, US, Canada, and Australia. The song criticises the education system, and its lyrics have been interpreted as supporting individualism and opposing conformity.

Jimi Hendrix – “All Along the Watchtower”

“All Along the Watchtower” is a song written and recorded by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. The song initially appeared on his 1967 album John Wesley Harding, and it has been included on most of Dylan’s subsequent greatest hits compilations. Since the late 1970s, he has performed it in concert more than any of his other songs. Different versions appear on four of Dylan’s live albums. It was ranked the greatest cover version of all time by Rolling Stone magazine in 2005, and it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.

The song has been described as “Dylan’s most famous piece of music”, “a masterpiece”, and “one of the most interpreted songs in pop music history”. Allusions have been made to Apocalypse Now, M*A*S*H, Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Gonna Take It (which samples part of Hendrix’s riff), The Simpsons and even Tibetan Buddhism.

Led Zeppelin – “Kashmir”

One of the most iconic and popular bands of all time, Led Zeppelin, were well known for their hard rock sound. However, they also experimented with psychedelia on several occasions throughout their career. “Kashmir” is perhaps the most well known example of this, and is widely considered to be one of the greatest rock songs ever made. It features a heavy psychedelic influence, with atmospheric instrumentation and lyrics that deal with mysticism and spirituality.

The Rolling Stones – “Gimme Shelter”

The Rolling Stones – “Gimme Shelter”
The Top Psychedelic Rock Songs of All Time – The Rolling Stones – Gimme Shelter

Psychedelic rock is a subgenre of rock music that emerged in the mid-1960s. The style is characterized by distorted guitars, feedback, and extreme use of reverb. Psychedelic rock often utilizes elements from other genres, including folk music, blues, and R&B.

The Rolling Stones are one of the most iconic bands of all time, and “Gimme Shelter” is one of their most iconic songs. The opening riff is instantly recognizable, and the song builds to a crescendo with some of the most emotionally charged vocal performances in rock history. “Gimme Shelter” is a perfect example of how psychedelic rock can be both intensely personal and widely influential.

David Bowie – “Space Oddity”

Space Oddity is one of David Bowie’s earliest and most well-known hits. The song is a story about an astronaut, Major Tom, who is cut off from communication with ground control and gradually slips into insanity. The song was released in 1969, at the height of the Cold War and the Space Race, and its themes of isolation and alienation struck a chord with many people. It remains one of Bowie’s most popular songs, and has been covered by many other artists.

Queen – “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Queen – “Bohemian Rhapsody”

A classic rock staple, “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen is a song that still holds up today. It’s a perfect example of the band’s expansive and ambitious songwriting, and the multi-layered vocal performance by Freddie Mercury is nothing short of legendary.

The Velvet Underground – “Sweet Jane”

The Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane” is a classic example of psychedelic rock. It was released in 1968 on the band’s third album, The Velvet Underground & Nico. The song features a lengthy guitar solo from Lou Reed and is one of the band’s most popular tracks.

The Beach Boys – “Good Vibrations”

As their contribution to the Psychedelic Furs’ classic Love My Way, The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” is one of the all-time greats. The Wall Street Journal would go on to call it the best pop song of all time, and it’s not hard to see why. The track is widely considered to be one of the first psychedelic pop songs, with its trippy sound effects and ethereal vocal harmony. Though released as a single in 1966, “Good Vibrations” didn’t reach its full potential until re-released in 1967, when it hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

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