Subscribe to our newsletter

Credit: Beach Boys

Music

The Beach Boys song inspired by mind-expanding LSD

@notmyyaztattoo

It’s no secret that so many musical artists are fans of LSD and other psychedelic drugs. Plenty of people find them inspiring, fun, and interesting. They can help with the music writing process, sure, and they can assist in spiritual enlightenment along the way—really it’s different for everyone. Take The Beatles for example, all of whom had different takes on their LSD experience but all of whom used it as a reference in their songs. In truth, int eh 1960s, to try and avoid acid would be to avoid the music industry at large.

For some reason, The Beach Boys aren’t exactly the first group that comes to mind when exploring the psychedelic spectrum of experiences. Maybe it’s the wholesome energy that surrounds their early image, their relatively clean and radio-friendly songs, or their dad-like presence, but they just don’t come off as serious LSD super-fans. However, it might be high time to reexamine, as they do have a song that’s about LSD after all.

On Pet Sounds, the group explored more transcendental experiences. Inspired by acid culture and the works of their constant competitors, The Beatles, and The Beach Boys decided to engage with drugs. The song ‘I Know There’s an Answer’, which was originally titled ‘Hang On to Your Ego’, was written by Brian Wilson, Terry Sachen, and Mike Love. It centres around Brian Wilson’s LSD trip where he struggled with ego death. 

However, this song wasn’t written without controversy. Mike Love specifically disliked the lyrics, claiming that they were “so totally offensive [and] nauseating,” that he refused to sing them. He disliked recreational drug use like LSD. He said about the song, “I wasn’t interested in taking acid or getting rid of my ego. The people that I’d seen indulge in those things exhibited behaviours and mannerisms that left much to be desired.”

Brian Wilson eventually decided that enough was enough, and changed the lyrics. Wilson said he didn’t mind the rewrite, stating, “But you know what? The ego of the band was Mike. He was the ego guy.” 

However, the controversy continues, as Wilson neglected to credit Love as a co-writer. However, in 1994, Love successfully sued for writing credits on 35 Beach Boys songs that didn’t originally feature his credit, including ‘I Know There’s an Answer’.

The song in its final form appeared on the 1966 album Pet Soundsand you can definitely still hear the influence, even with the lyrical changes. The song goes “I know so many people who think they can do it alone/ They isolate their heads and stay in their safety zones/ Now what can you tell them/ And what can you say that won’t make them defensive?/ I know there’s an answer/ I know now but I have to find it by myself.” 

Even if the meaning isn’t the most obvious in the lyrics, when you know, you know. If you want to take a listen to the song The Beach Boys wrote—and argued over—about LSD, you can listen down below.