How to Listen to Pink Floyd While Getting High (Hint: Don't Bother with 'Dark Side of the Moon')

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Hear this while high: Pink Floyd's Meddle.

Why?: Pink Floyd is the canonical druggie rock band, and most beginning stoners need a little basic out-of-body orientation. That Floyd's early music is the platinum kush standard for progressive rock is doubted only by those farther along on this THC-sodden quest than you, grasshopper. Novices should approach this artifact with a hippie-meditative frame of mind.

Stupid stoner tricks: Many beginners wanting this kind of classic-rock stoner experience will opt for the obvious: do a coupla deep contemplative bong rips, cue the opening salvo of Dark Side of the Moon, and attempt a generic brainmelt. At best, this approach yields results similar to the legendary society matron exclaiming during Hamlet, "This play is full of quotations!" By the pealing bells of "Time," you're wondering if this was such a good idea after all. "The Great Gig in the Sky" only intensifies such queasy feelings of mortality. This will drive most novices straight to the Bob Marley station on Pandora.

The higher inquiry: The newbie psychonaut is far better off with Relics - Floyd's pre-Dark Side comp -- which contains some of Syd Barrett's choicest giggles. Long-textured album tracks like "Interstellar Overdrive" are good for cultivating one's thousand-yard-stare through solid objects. Veteran dopers also like to consult A Saucerful of Secrets and Obscured by Clouds for similar effects, but 1971's Meddle, with its varied palette and whimsical mood shifts, is the preferred album for casual stoning.

The rush: "One of These Days" is one of those gorgeous bursts of acceleration that made AOR radio that stupendous thing of barely remembered legend. Floyd's recent film score labors are shown off superbly in this song's headlong abandon, coming on like trippy car chase music from some unproduced John Boorman spy thriller. "A Pillow of Winds" is slower, but just as atmospheric, and Dave Gilmour's slide guitar runs nudge a rising tension.

The peak: Gilmour's gentle, chiding "You say the hill's too steep to climb" presents a friendly challenge, and up we go to the album's summit. "Fearless" comes off like a druggy secular version of the Krishna ecstasies George Harrison was recording at about this time -- an impression reinforced by vaguely cheery lyrics and undercut brilliantly by the football yobs bellowing "You'll Never Walk Alone" at the finale, sounding as fiercely chummy as a cathedral full of gargoyles.

The nod-off: After such heroically weird shit, "San Tropez" wriggles by like a nice bit of poolside fluff. Lyrics like "Gone with the wind and the rain on an airplane" reinforce this cozy feeling of partying like a rockstar far from care. "Seamus" is similarly lazy-lidded; a wafting joke blues tune highlighted by a few low-key howls from Steve Marriott's dog.

The comedown: "Echoes" is one of those twenty-minute-plus chunks of free-form music mainstream pop-crits love to loathe, but cooler heads regard it as perhaps the greatest extended-length track in the history of the rock LP. Lyrics coo dolefully of albatrosses and labyrinths, but such Donovan fancies soon yield to a muscular cosmic groove fit for dance, love, pell-mell flight. Listeners compare the experience to the alien vistas of the last reel of 2001: A Space Odyssey (even synchronizing the two), and that ping blowing your brains out came from the late Richard Wright feeding a single piano note through a Leslie speaker. The oceanic imagery at the very end leaves the listener feeling reborn, or at least calls up a faint memory of brine.

Next bongload: Congratulations! You're now ready for Atom Heart Mother, Pink Floyd's even-more-trippy 1970 album. Holy fucking shit.

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Daisy O'byrne
Daisy O'byrne

Dumb. Can't do a classic hippie rip with a bong. Can't do it with the modern drug. Can't do it. Can't do the time warp. A pipe like yours, yes. A joint, yes, but there has to be a big bag of Mexi on the coffee table, candles melted down the side of a wine bottle, someone's errant sand casting, macrame, an Indian bedspread smelling of the odd mixture of cork and sandalwood. There has to be a dog, or two, cat crap and a sketchy Vietnam vet, just home. Someone has to say groovy to some weird light show that looks like crayons melting. Someone is playing Firesign theater. It's not about god or Syd Barrett, but the electrician, or someone like him.

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