Magical & Mystical Music

Simple as it may seem one of the most magical things in the world is music!    Music has been used in rituals across cultures and across religions.   Dancing as a part of mystical energetic rites was very common in ancient times.    Dance can symbolize fertility, ecstasy, sexual fulfillment, and freedom!

In the modern age our popular music is not what we would see as being full of emotion or magic.   Songs for mainstream artists are written not from the heart but using algorithms based on what is likely to sell!   In independent labels the artists are allowed freedom to create true art and express real sentiment, making their music much more powerful!

In past eras music was more commonly artistic creations of the bands and musicians recording it.    The use of esoteric subject matter became increasingly popular in the 1960’s.   It should be mentioned that esoteric subjects had been used since at least the 1920’s but not as often.   A prime 1920’s example of use of mystical and esoteric subject is Robert Johnson.   He was a Delta Bluesman, a member of the 27 club, and a musician believed to have made a pact with the devil in order to gain guitar mastery!

Johnson would go on to inspire many generations, including having a large impact on Keith Richards!    You can see the inspiration in Rolling Stones songs that feature magical and mystical subjects.   An entire album is entitled Their Satanic Majesties Request.    They also have songs like “Sympathy for the Devil.”    This drawing on mystical subjects is in line with the sentiments of the Age of Aquarius and the Summer of Love!

In San Francisco, especially the Haight Ashbury district, the Summer of Love was at its peak in 1967.   The Human Be-In featured Timothy Leary (one of the authors of The Psychedelic Experience) encouraging all the attendees to “Turn on, tune in, drop out!”   Jefferson Airplane released their album Surrealistic Pillow in 1967, and it became the soundtrack of the Summer of Love!   The song “White Rabbit”is a psychedelic take on Alice in Wonderland written by Jefferson Airplane lead singer Grace Slick.   The whole feel of this place and time evokes a mystical reawakening.    This is of course is something we are trying to achieve now also, a mystical reawakening that is, and we all would like the world to become a more understanding and safer place to be.

In L.A. The Doors were making a big name for themselves in 1967.   They were discovered while a house band at The Whisky, and signed to a contract at Elektra Records.   Their debut self titled album featured songs like “Break on Through to the Other Side” and “The End.”    Jim Morrison often wrote about esoteric and mystical subjects, and even proclaimed himself to be a Shaman.   One only needs to read Jim’s poetry or listen to his songs, or spoken word recordings to hear his beliefs in the supernatural.   Love, sex, magic, and drugs all feature in the bands music, making it a very evocative experience to listen to it!

In New York Andy Warhol had put together a band that he would manage known as The Velvet Underground.   His major contributions included the album art for their first album, and forcing them to add Nico to the band (much to the chagrin of the other members)!   Lou Reed is in many ways the heart of this band, and he wrote most of their songs.    The first album alone featured iconic songs like “Venus in Furs”, “Heroin”, and “Femme Fatale.”   The Velvet Underground took a much darker and grittier look at life, as opposed to the west coast free love, flower power music of the time!

In Britain there was a huge surge in popularity world wide for their music, and that was called the British Invasion!   It all began with The Beatles on Ed Sullivan in 1964.   Also included in this invasion were The Rolling Stones, The Who, and as time would go on acts like Led Zeppelin!   It can certainly be heard that there was a magical element to music from these 1960s British bands.    I already discussed The Rolling Stones.    The Beatles even had a song titled “Magical Mystery Tour.”    They also had the song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” that can be seen as a drug song, but also has a mystical element to it!

In 1975 Fleetwood Mac got a new lineup, and this would be their most famous one ever!   The British band would bring in two American musicians, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.   They also gained two more songwriters and singers at the same time!   Stevie Nicks music as a writer often took a very magical turn.   Songs like “Rhiannon” and “Sorcerer” make her love of the mystical plain to see!

It cannot be overstated the importance of good music to a person’s wellbeing, in my opinion!   I hope that you have enjoyed my thoughts on the magical nature of music.   Let me know your favorite songs and artists in the comments!

Further Listening

  • The Complete Robert Johnson
  • The White Album (The Beatles) 
  • Let It Be by The Beatles
  • Abbey Road by The Beatles
  • The Doors 
  • Strange Days by The Doors
  • Waiting for the Sun by The Doors
  • Soft Parade by The Doors
  • Morrison Hotel by The Doors
  • L.A. Woman by The Doors
  • The Velvet Underground and Nico 
  • Surrealistic Pillow by Jefferson Airplane
  • Their Satanic Majesties Request by The Rolling Stones
  • Sticky Fingers by The Rolling Stones
  • Fleetwood Mac
  • Rumours by Fleetwood Mac
  • Bella Donna by Stevie Nicks