‘Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)’ by Kenny Rogers and The First Edition
From the album The First Edition (1967)
Kenny Rogers, country legend, records seminal counter-culture hit song featured on the soundtrack for The Big Lebowski, with Glen Campbell, country legend, guesting as a session guitarist. Sound familiar? Nope. Didn’t to me either until I Shazam-ed the song whilst watching The Big Lebowski last night, naively assuming that it was a song by The Byrds.
I’ve always had a soft spot for psychedelia; the music and the scene surrounding it in the late ’60s/early 70s, which probably stems from my dad (an ex-hippy who has been steadily regressing since he bought himself a guitar for his 50th birthday) lending me the films Easy Rider and Woodstock when I was around 13 years old. This was compounded by my discovery and subsequent love of books that inspired or reflected upon that time, such as On The Road by Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson’s Hell’s Angels and Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon.
The song itself was originally written and recorded by Mickey Newbury (who?) as a warning of the dangers of LSD after Newbury went on one hell of a bad trip and the subsequent rerecording by Rogers et al, redone as more of a celebration of the very substance Newbury wanted to warn against, is a lot more interesting than the acoustic guitar, cello and whistling drone of the original. The First Edition’s version has a lot of the tropes that you would expect from a classic cut of psychedelia – backwards guitars, harmonised backing vocals and organs opened up to the burgeoning range of effects available in a recording studio and that weird feeling that makes you feel as though you are listening to the song in a long, dark tunnel (related to aforementioned studio effects). The song is used perfectly by the Coen Brothers in their aforementioned masterpiece The Big Lebowski, in a scene where Jeff ‘The Dude’ Lebowski has his White Russian drugged by a shady pornographer, which makes a lot more sense in the context of the film (a must-watch, fyi).
Turn on, tune in, drop out, dudes. Peace.