It is a pop culture moment that has gone down in history as a seismic event, capturing the imagination and spawning thoughts well beyond the simple happenstance that it represented — the earth-scented meeting of two cultural deities, Bob Dylan and The Beatles.
After the smoke plume dissipated and the story emerged, it has been catapulted towards the rarefied tag of a cataclysmic moment in the folklore of music. It is remembered in pop-culture publications as the first time that The Beatles delved into drugs, a magical mystery ride that would leave an indelible mark on the band’s back catalogue forevermore.
Speaking to Uncut Magazine, Paul McCartney retold the tale. “It was at the Delmonico Hotel on Park Avenue and 59th in New York City in August, 1964. We were in a hotel room, all being good old lads having our Scotch and Coke – it was an afterparty, I think.” McCartney began.
Then like an apparition from the ether, Bob Dylan strolled into the hotel; as McCartney explained, “Dylan arrived, and he went into the bedroom with his roadie. Ringo went along to see what was up. So he finds Dylan rolling up, and he has a toke. He came back in, and we said, ‘What was it like?’ So Ringo says, ‘The ceiling is kind of moving down…’ We all ran into the backroom going, ‘Give us a bit, give us a bit!’ So that was the very first evening we ever got stoned!”
However, as Peter Brown, the music mogul present with The Beatles at the time, has often revealed a slightly more embarrassing edge to the story, in the Steven Gaines novel, The Love You Make, “[Dylan didn’t believe the band had never smoked pot before] he looked disbelievingly from face to face. ‘But what about your song?’ [Dylan] asked. ‘The one about getting high?’ The Beatles were stupefied. ‘Which song? John managed to ask. Dylan said, ‘You know…’ and then he sang, ‘and when I touch you I get high, I get high…’ John flushed with embarrassment. ‘Those aren’t the words,’ he admitted. ‘The words are, ‘I can’t hide, I can’t hide, I can’t hide.’”
Paul McCartney also repeated the tale speaking on the Adam Buxton podcast recently where he revealed that Bob Dylan is far from pleased with the lingering connotation as being the man who turned The Beatles on to drugs.
The singer also concluded, with a note of caution that encapsulates the dichotomy that the substance represented for The Beatles, “It was always to have something in your mind to lean on […]. Having said that, these days, it’s so much more potent, and you do have to warn kids, just to take it easy, whatever you do.”
Below you can check out one of the tracks that emerged from that meeting ‘Got To Get You Into My Life’, which was a thinly veiled ode to Marijuana penned by McCartney following the fateful meeting.