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How Much Were The Beatles Influenced By Drugs?
28 December 2016
10.39pm
YKMR3000
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So when I was younger so much younger than today, I had no idea that the Beatles did any sort of drugs, but as I got older, I found out that all of them did marijuana and LSD, and John even did heroin. I also found out that songs like It's All Too Much and She Said She Said were about drugs. Obviously, this kind of warped my perception of the band. But I'm still wondering how much they were influenced by them. What I've read it sort of suggests that their songwriting ability and ideas for innovations in composition and recording were all because of drugs, and without them, they would have continued to write "boring pop junk" like the pre-Rubber Soul era and fade into obscurity. They also insinuate that it was drugs, not pure talent, that allowed songs like Tomorrow Never Knows and A Day In The Life to be written. Is this true? I would prefer to think that drugs were just an inspiration for a few songs and possibly a coping mechanism.

31 December 2016
2.03pm
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Ahhh Girl
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@YKMR3000, have you read @Joe's page on The Beatles and drugs? https://www.beatlesbible.com/f.....res/drugs/

As a side note, you might enjoy this forum thread 10 Druggiest Beatles Songs

31 December 2016
2.20pm
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Necko
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Let me direct you to this John Lennon quote:

Rubber Soul was our pot album, and Revolver was acid. I mean, we weren’t all stoned making Rubber Soul because in those days we couldn’t work on pot. We never recorded under acid or anything like that. It’s like saying, ‘Did Dylan Thomas write Under Milk Wood on beer?’ What the fuck does that have to do with it? The beer is to prevent the rest of the world from crowding in on him. The drugs are to prevent the rest of the world from crowding in on you. They don’t make you write better. I never wrote any better stuff because I was on acid or not on acid.”

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31 December 2016
6.45pm
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meanmistermustard
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Joe is writing a book on The Beatles and drugs so if you wait a while (less time than Paul releasing 'Wild Life ' in his archive collection - but then so is the natural evolution of a peanut into a bongo drum) that will be an option too.

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1 January 2017
4.23pm
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Joe
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meanmistermustard said
Joe is writing a book on The Beatles and drugs so if you wait a while (less time than Paul releasing 'Wild Life ' in his archive collection - but then so is the natural evolution of a peanut into a bongo drum) that will be an option too.  

Aw damn, you just let the cat out of the bag. NM. Yes, it's a work in progress and I've written about 50,000 words so far. A couple of the chapters are complete, a couple aren't yet started, and the rest are somewhere in the middle. I'm going to make some serious headway once the school term begins and I don't have any major distractions, but there's still some way to go – once the first draft is complete I need to send it off to a few people for fact checking/proof reading/copy editing, finish the manuscript, pay for a cover image, then format it for Kindle (I'm self-publishing) and hopefully get some nice hardback copies printed too. It'll be out some time this year, I promise.

I'll create a proper thread for it when I'm able to say more, so let's please keep this discussion on topic for now.

YKMR3000 said
So when I was younger so much younger than today, I had no idea that the Beatles did any sort of drugs, but as I got older, I found out that all of them did marijuana and LSD, and John even did heroin. I also found out that songs like It's All Too Much and She Said She Said were about drugs. Obviously, this kind of warped my perception of the band. But I'm still wondering how much they were influenced by them. What I've read it sort of suggests that their songwriting ability and ideas for innovations in composition and recording were all because of drugs, and without them, they would have continued to write "boring pop junk" like the pre-Rubber Soul era and fade into obscurity. They also insinuate that it was drugs, not pure talent, that allowed songs like Tomorrow Never Knows and A Day In The Life to be written. Is this true? I would prefer to think that drugs were just an inspiration for a few songs and possibly a coping mechanism.  

It's impossible to say for sure, because drugs were an everyday thing throughout their recording career. There was Preludin in the studio when they recorded the Please Please Me single, and they kept using stimulants till the end. From 1964 onwards they were smoking cannabis almost daily, and John and George were heavily into LSD in 1966/7. McCartney fell into cocaine use during Sgt Pepper , which may have accounted for his commanding role in the project, but that might have happened anyway. Unfortunately we can't set up a lab experiment with a Control Beatles and a Drugs Beatles, both recording throughout the 1960s without being aware of the other, to see which one came up with the more innovative work.

They were innovative songwriters from 1962 onwards, and in the studio they began experimenting in 1964 (the fade-in on Eight Days A Week etc). They were hugely creative people with or without drugs, but the drugs probably helped open some boxes that would otherwise have remained closed.

They weren't in a bubble either, and their songwriting reflected the styles of their peers – there were plenty of straight bands writing psychedelic music in the Summer of Love, and I'm sure the Beatles would have been inspired by Jimi Hendrix et al even if they weren't all on the same stuff. I know McCartney has cited Tomorrow Never Knows as the only purely LSD song they did, but it surely had an effect on a number of other songs (Lucy, Strawberry Fields, Penny Lane ). I Me Mine  doesn't sound much like a drugs song, but it was inspired by LSD. Got To Get You Into My Life sounds like a love song, and it is. It's a love song to cannabis.

They also dropped in a lot of small clues. "Find me in my field of grass" is a lovely image, but according to Barry Miles, any reference to grass in a Beatles song is a reference to marijuana (there aren't actually that many, and I'm not sure if I wholly agree with Miles, but it's a theory worth considering). Another one is the word 'tea' to mean cannabis, which the Beatles all used in conversation. So lines like "It's time for tea and Meet The Wife" or "When are you free to take some tea with me?" sound both innocent and subtly subversive. Plenty more of this in the book!

The Beatles only really used cannabis and speed in the studio, which they could work on. Alcohol was hardly ever drunk. LSD was taken only once, and that was accidental (Lennon meant to take an upper but dropped a tab instead). Lennon was on heroin from the summer of 1968 (quite soon after returning from India), but got more heavily into it the following year. That caused his songwriting to largely dry up, although he became hugely active with Yoko around the same time (films, peace campaigns, interviews etc), so it's very hard to make a call on its effect on his productivity. He might have lost interest in the Beatles anyway once Yoko came along, regardless of heroin, but they were definitely in a drug bubble for several months which made communication within the group very difficult and probably contributed quite a bit to the split.

TL;DR: Yes. Sort of. It's complicated.

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4 January 2017
12.16pm
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Pablo Ramon
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YKMR3000 said
....I'm still wondering how much they were influenced by them. What I've read it sort of suggests that their songwriting ability and ideas for innovations in composition and recording were all because of drugs, and without them, they would have continued to write "boring pop junk" like the pre-Rubber Soul era and fade into obscurity. They also insinuate that it was drugs, not pure talent, that allowed songs like Tomorrow Never Knows and A Day In The Life to be written. Is this true? I would prefer to think that drugs were just an inspiration for a few songs and possibly a coping mechanism.  

Every musician in the 60's did drugs. Only one group came up with Tomorrow Never Knows and A Day In The Life . Undoubtedly, drugs served to lubricate musical and social ideas for them. But anyone who tells you that drugs "caused" a song to be written is barking up the wrong tree. Drugs may have opened doors of perception, they may have helped to break down psychic barriers, they may have even helped with productivity at times, but you can't say the Beatles' innovations were "because" of drugs.

The Beatles wrote great songs and made innovative records because they were supremely talented. 

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