Since the good ol' days of Woodstock and the Summer of Love, Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) has provided inspiration for many curious artists wanting to explore the hidden depths of their own minds.
Despite only having been synthesised in 1943, the substance swiftly became a symbol of world counter-culture, from The Beatles' psychedelia through to acid house and the heyday of the 90s rave to Harry Styles' blissed-out mainstream pop. Whole subgenres—psychedelic rock, psytrance, acid house— are inspired by drugs that alter consciousness and LSD can improve music perception and trigger synaesthetic reactions — which cause people to see sounds as colours, patterns, or objects. LSD has infiltrated our culture's musical awareness and brought with it a great wealth of trippy bangers to serve as the soundtrack to your exploration into uncharted terrain.
So whether you're just out to trip balls, or you've come here for “The Message,” — let us take you on a bewildering journey through some of the best music about LSD.
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ECSTASY CLUB ‘JESUS LOVES THE ACID’
A classic of its time, this belter released in 1988 is quite simply not one to listen to while tripping on acid, despite what the title suggests. With screeching synths, wobbly 303s, and a sample ofPope John Paul II’s 1979 speech in Ireland kicking things off, this acid house number could send anyone into overdrive on the dancefloor, and the "ACID!" chants toward the end really help to top it off. Jesus most definitely loves the acid.
APHEX TWIN 'LISBON ACID’
From his 2005-released record ‘Analord 07’, Aphex Twin’s glitchy acid techno-inspired track ‘Lisbon Acid’ might not make direct remarks about the drug, but the producer certainly has a history with his hallucinogens. Starting out on the free party scene as acid house first emerged in the UK, Aphex Twin signed his first track while tripping on the drug: “[Mighty Force Records] made me sign the contract when I was off my face. I was tripping and they're waving this money and a pen at me,” he recounted. “I think if he had not done that trip that night there may have never been any Aphex Twin,” his friend said.
2 BOASTERS, A DIGESTIVE & A JAMMY DODGER 'WE ARE ABOUT TO TAKE LSD’
“WE ARE ABOUT TO TAKE LSD!” announces the opening vocals of this chaotic and slightly alarming track by 2 Boasters, A Digestive & A Jammy Dodger. Released in 1991 as part of a three-track EP alongside the comically named ‘Oh Crumbs’, this hardcore breakbeat number certainly doesn’t leave any hints on its backstory. The vocal sample runs on repeat throughout the entire five-minute tune, only pausing to drop into even heavier breaks.
UK experimental outfit Jockstrap have a more contemporary take on their hallucinogen preferences, this time documenting an unusual acid trip-turned-breakup. “Smash a pretty vase of acid” starts lead singer Georgia Ellery before crashing into unusual synths and orchestral moments lined with more hard-hitting lyrics. The distorted production throws this track askew, fitting for such a drug, but never quite feels too surreal.
LUKE VIBERT 'I LOVE ACID’
Complete with Daft Punk-esque robot voices, plainly titled ‘I Love Acid’, is likely to stick in your head for a couple of days after first listen. Released by Warp Records in 2003, British producer Luke Vibert declares his undying love for LSD alongside a trippy animation: “I love acid for the way it makes me move - I love acid it’s the sound you can’t improve - I love acid it insights a nasty groove,” repeat the robotic vocals piecing together this curiously French house style track. Vibert’s love for the hallucinogen was no secret, later releasing his 12-track album ‘Lover’s Acid’ in 2005 and creating more tunes in the same vein with titles such as ‘Acid 2000’ and ‘Funky Acid Stuff’.
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1200 MICROGRAMS ‘LSD’
A real interdimensional journey, this psytrance track from 1200 micrograms will have you contemplating your steady trip through life. With the line “mind-altering psychedelic trip” playing throughout, this seven-minute song is fast-tempo, high energy and has a mechanical, robotic and space-like quality synonymous with the extra-terrestrial experience of an acid trip. “LSD, possibly the most powerful and important psychedelic drug on the planet” is whispered as the track ends.
D-MOB ‘WE CALL IT ACIEED’
“Acid, the musical phenomenon. Only for the headstrong” — a sample declares over the acid house beat. This is the debut single by British musician D-Mob and in 1989 it reached No. 1 on Billboard's Dance Music/Club Play Singles chart and No. 25 on the Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales chart. Listeners are blessed with blaring synths, funky keys, a groovy bassline and the word “acid” ringing through their ears.
TIME TRIPPING ‘TIME TRIPPING’
With double drops of a deep bassline and a rolling drum pattern — this track will go down in drum 'n' bass history. But the repeated lines of “are we time tripping” is highly resemblant to that all-consuming feeling of not knowing where you are or what era you’re in when five hours into your trip. It’s a simple track but it is versatile and has been a favourite for drum 'n' bass club mixes for almost a decade... a great option for when you're two tabs in.
THE BEATLES ‘LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS’
Potentially the most famous track about acid there is. Despite the capitals in the track spelling out "LSD" John Lennon insisted that the titling choice was a mere coincidence. However, The Beatles did admit two weeks after the release of the seminal album in which this song is featured, ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ that the quartet did take acid when writing the album - implying that many of the songs and the colourful imagery which is described in them would have also been inspired under psychedelic influence.
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A$AP ROCKY ‘LSD’
We mean, it’s in the title. 'LSD' is a shaky, slightly ghoulish track about the drug and the love you can — or can't — make while using it. This track depicts Rocky rapping about being high on LSD and the experiences that he has had on it. When asked about the "Baby I'm just rappin' to this LSD" lyric by Billboard magazine, A$AP Rocky replied: "It helps me cope with life. I've been doing this stuff since I got into the industry. People are scared to talk about it."
REJJIE SNOW ‘ACID TRIP’
Even without the literal references to acid used on this track by applying effects to the piano and Rejjie’s vocals a floating feeling is undeniable. When listening to ‘ACID TRIP’ it’s airy echoing sounds and electronic synths transport you to a utopia. Lyrics include, "Took a little bit of acid, mum, I'm sorry", and the chorus "I feel like we on acid when we kiss" repeats so much it could be hypnotising you into a world of LSD.
All seems well when you first start listening to ‘TRIP’ however as soon as the lyric, “this is our fantasy,” is rapped it’s as if the tab has finally hit your tongue. The lyric “flying on my rocket ship, I’m on an acid trip” isn’t as subtle of a hint.
JEFFERSON AIRPLANE ‘WHITE RABBIT’
This is a pretty self-explanatory choice if you’ve heard this classic but if you haven’t here you go. You’d think that the use of the ‘white’ in the title is referring to cocaine however, instead the name is referencing the white rabbit character within Lewis Carrol’s psychedelic tale of Alice in Wonderland. It’s release in 1967 at the height of LSD saw Jefferson Airplane become a pioneering psychedelic rock band. It’s said that Paul Kantner, singer, guitarist from Jefferson Airplane wrote the song after taking LSD and listening to Miles Davis’ album ‘Sketches Of Spain’ for 24 hours. The song is now commonly associated with mind-altering film The Matrix as well as its feature in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
DAVID BOWIE ‘SPACE ODDITY’
An obvious one but also a classic, ‘Space Oddity’ is the ultimate LSD-themed track. Released in 1969 this was Bowie’s first introduction to the astronaut persona Major Tom who later features on other tracks including ‘Ashes to Ashes’ where he is referred to as a “junkie”. A gentle track of Bowie’s soft vocals and acoustic vocals, the layering of instruments adds a bewitching atmosphere. Lyrics follow Major Tom’s departure and trip into space getting higher and higher until he spins around stuck in space. "Here am I floating 'round my tin can, far above the moon. Planet Earth is blue, and there's nothing I can do."
THE PRODIGY ‘OUT OF SPACE’
A banger to say the least, this song really does take “your brain to another dimension”. Built for tripping, 'Out Of Space' features acid house breaks and a sample of the 1976 song ‘Chase the Devil’. Not only is the track hallucinatory but the music video is extremely vibrant and colourful and features them raving in industrial wear — oh, and lots of ostriches.
THE BEATLES ‘I AM THE WALRUS’
This song is notoriously known for being heavily inspired by tripping, with Lennon penning the majority of the song while under the influence of LSD. During one trip, he heard the two-note pattern of a passing police siren. The sound became the first few notes of 'I Am The Walrus'. They're even echoed in the verse's two-note pattern. The line “See how they run like pigs from a gun”, emerged during another narcotics-fuelled music session.
LYRA PRAMUK & ERIS DREW 'EVERYTHING IS BEAUTIFUL & ALIVE'
As part of the 'Delta' remix compilation of Pramuk's 2020 album 'Fountain', 'Everything is Beautiful & Alive' isn't your traditional rework. Eris Drew instead of choosing "a track" to remix instead took vocal samples from the entire album and weaved them into a singular narrative — a deeply personal collaboration that referenced the two artists' friendship across time and space during the pandemic, with Lyra living in Berlin and Eris in New Hampshire. Eris is never shy to share her love of hallucinogenics within her music — regularly using acid and magic mushrooms in her creative process, and the track's reference to psychedelics comes via a vocal sample. "Everything is beautiful and alive" a soft female voice declares over the trippy beat, taken from an old news report of a young woman on acid, explaining how wonderful she feels to a suited-up male square.
JHENÉ AIKO 'LSD'
Jhené Aiko's 'LSD' is the first track from her 2017 concept album 'Trip'. The whole record is in reference to the US R&B starlet's journey into psychedelics and healing following the death of her brother to cancer in 2012 — telling the story of journeys into the self through a dreamy, trippy lens. 'LSD' tells the story of her first acid trip during a car drive to the rugged Big Sur coastal stretch in California. Perhaps the most prolific description of her experience in the track comes from the last three lines: "Took a tiny piece of paper and put it under my tongue. This white guy said it'd be fun, and it was, but. What I saw, Oh my God, Oh my God."
HALLUCINOGEN 'L.S.D' (PAUL OAKENFOLD REMIX)
It doesn't get much more psychedelic and transcendental than Hallucinogen's 1995 track 'L.S.D'. Grinding drums, squelching chimes and trippy acid basslines make up this classic Goa trance banger. The track contains a vocal sample taken from the 1986 BBC documentary The Rise and Fall of LSD, which controversially showed British viewers footage of participants in an LSD study describing their experiences. Wanna kick the trip up a notch? The master of trance himself Paul Oakenfold remixed the track back in 2011 adding in even more big bass and synth siren calls.
CHANCE THE RAPPER 'ACID RAIN'
Though much of Chance's 2013 mixtape 'Acid Rap' references his use of LSD, telling MTVMTV around the time of release: "[There] was a lot of acid involved in 'Acid Rap'. I mean, it wasn't too much — I'd say it was about 30 to 40% acid... more so 30% acid." The only track which gives a narrative of an acid trip is 'Acid Rain', which tells the story of Chance, real name Chancellor Bennet, going outside in New York while on a particularly intense dose of the drug. Throughout the song he comes to realisations about his life: whether it's about getting picked for sports in high school, his relationship with fellow rappers or his belief in god. His central point can be seen in the line "damn that acid burn when it clean ya" — alluding to an acid trip needed to be painful and challenging to reward him with the clarity he was looking for.
LCD SOUNDSYSTEM 'AMERICAN DREAM'
Perhaps one of the more morose descriptions of an acid trip on this list. The title track from LCD Soundsystem's 2017 record 'American Dream' describes the story of the morning after a regrettable bender. Remembering not a moment of clarity or self-discovery, instead, the lyrics pertain to feelings of fear and discomfort: "You took acid and looked in the mirror. Watched the beard crawl around on your face." The track itself maintains a dream-like psychedelic quality while remaining eerie and unsettling. Sometimes you have a bad trip, you know?