All the News That Didn't Fit

On the Record

The Olympia Connection, Or Lack Thereof


The Numbness Is Just a Bonus

Hiphop City


Soul by the Pound


Incest is Best

The Rise and Fall of the N-Word


If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say, Tell the Truth Anyway

You Don't Own Me

Summer Lovin'

Stagger Lee

Music to Lose Your Job By

Boy, You Sure Can Take the Fun Out of Music


Stuart Braithwaite From Mogwai

Going to New York City?


A Whole N'other Level

Who Says Morrissey Fans Don't Get Laid?


Not Modest Enough

Music can make or break an acid trip--it's a highly personal and unpredictable component of the hallucinogenic experience. With a head full of LSD, an unbearably insipid pop song you've heard two billion times can suddenly gain stupendous meaning, reducing you to protoplasmic terror. Conversely, your most cherished band, heard through the filter of an ego-pulverizing psychotropic, can sound horribly flat and moronic. Finding just what works for you is no easy matter, yet it's arguably the single most important aspect of your trip.

While the ultimate object of your trip is to have fun (however defined), you want to be prepared for any and all eventualities. Just because you're not really going anywhere doesn't mean you're not going anywhere, if you know what I mean. The needle on your psychic tachometer will at times be pegged to the maximum, and there is typically some turbulence to deal with.

Basically, you want your hallucinogenic soundtrack to reflect your personal needs and desires, while at the same time remaining flexible and subject to immediate revision. (You don't want to be locked into side two of Dark Side of the Moon, especially if it's scaring the bejesus out of you.) The key is navigating the tension between order and anarchy; a good structure will prevent utter chaos without squelching spontaneity. To this end, the veteran traveler will sketch a rough outline of potential destinations and psychic landmarks, leaving escape routes and contingency plans along the way. Pack with economy (you don't want to be shuffling through 200 CDs while your face is melting) but cover your bases--include comfort music along with the heavier stuff. Keep your musical palette varied yet manageable.

The following list, while unabashedly personal and, in some cases, fairly obvious, will hopefully provide a general guideline for those of you who take your drug music seriously. The short explanation following each selection will indicate the various criteria used in each decision.

In no particular order:

1. Camper Van Beethoven: Early Camper Van is perfect for almost all hallucinogenic occasions--a sloppy, gorgeous cacophony of inventive neo-psychedelia riding over lyrics which barely make sense even on mushrooms. Songs like "History of Utah" perfectly mirror the zany meltdown occurring in your brain pan, and it's all underscored by an attitude of carefree exuberance.

2. The Velvet Underground's Loaded: One of the catchiest, smartest pop albums ever. Lou Reed's deadpan vocal delivery and brilliant hooks will delight your tripped-out mind. Lou's been some pretty weird places himself, and his voice is a guiding light through geeky inner territories.

3. Lou Reed's Berlin: If you're feeling up to it, you can also take a peek into the darker corners of Lou's sometimes brutal imagination. This tortured gem of a bad trip should only be indulged with utmost caution. But if you're the type who enjoys delving into the heavy stuff, this is perfect: intimate, candid, and dark, dark, dark.

4. R.E.M.'s Automatic for the People: A personal favorite. This cohesive, immaculately produced album finds REM at their emotional and artistic best. I once absorbed the first three cuts while flying on ecstasy, as the sun went down over Puget Sound, and nearly lost my stuff. It was an intense, mind-rattling moment.

5. Fleetwood Mac's Rumours: Comfort music, plain and simple. Stevie Nicks is an angel.

6. The Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique: A carnival ride through the smart-ass world of the Beastie Boys. Thumping bass lines, innovative samples and rhythms, and a tidal wave of New York attitude. One glorious, continuous assault of studio-generated insanity--great fun for peaking. "Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun" is unbelievable.

7. P.J. Harvey's Rid of Me: Heavy, sexy, guitar-driven rock. Harvey lulls you with a whisper then pounds you over the head with cathartic wails. This is a great post-peak album: it'll keep you from dwelling glumly on the downhill slide to exhausted sobriety.

8. David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust: An obvious pick. Great production, fucked-up spaceman lyrics, and Mick Ronson's genius guitar.

9. The Music of Ennio Morricone: The composer of those arid, whistling soundscapes for Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns. This stuff is just plain fun. Close your eyes, hug the carpet, and visualize the endlessly rolling deserts (of Italy).

10. Beethoven's Trios for Violin, Viola, and Violoncello, Op. 9, 1-3: At some point the rock thing might stop working for you. Your porous mind will grow weary of the schizophrenic influence of someone else's sung thoughts. Try some classical (but avoid Wagner). This is another personal favorite, an aural Valium to aid in smooth landing.