Song of the Day #18: “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” by Iron Butterfly

15 Jun

                A very happy 66th birthday to Lee Dorman who over 41 years ago played bass on the iconic track, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” with his significant band Iron Butterfly. Don’t know the song? Well, I bet you the know the famous minor-key riff. The guitar and bass ostinato (musical phrase that repeats over the same musical voice). The haunting and endless basis for the guitar and organ solos that extend the song to an incredible 17 minutes and 5 seconds. The song that occupies the entire second side of their 1968 album, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” which was released on June 14th, 1968 (41 years and one day ago).

          The song has been featured in numerous television programs like the Simpsons, in commercials like a Castrol commercial In-A-Gadda-Da-Vidathat debuted during the Superbowl and in movies like High Fidelity. It has also been covered by bands from The Incredible Bongo Band in 1973 to Slayer in 1987 (That is one interesting match-up. I pride myself in possibly being the only one ever to mention both of those bands in the same sentence). So what is the cause for the hype around this one song. Well, for one, it is an insanely catchy and relatively easy riff that can fit well into television, commercial, or movie scenes. Secondly, the story behind the name has simply made the song more iconic.

                There are a few different versions of the story but this one came from the liner notes of the newer 1995 version of the album. According to the notes, singer Doug Ingle was drunk when he first told the drummer Ron Bushy the title of the song. The title which originally was, “In the Garden of Eden.” Bushy wrote down what he heard and this created the mondegreen(a misheard phrase commonly found in a song). After Ingle sobered up Bushy showed him what he wrote down and the drunken slurred title stuck. Just like that a classic was made. The title just gives the deep riff an even more heavy metal feel. One must understand, this was 1968. Heavy Metal was in its infant stages and bands like Blue Cheer, Steppenwolf and Iron Butterfly were experimenting with taking psychedelic music and producing it with more of a heavy metal touch.

              Fun Fact. The song was crowned as the 24th greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1

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