In the Garden of Eden

The Garden of Earthly Delights. Triptych painting by Hieronymus Bosch, c. 1495-1505. The Garden of Eden is depicted in the left panel, with God introducing Eve to Adam. The middle panel depicts a fantastic world of pleasure, and the right panel depicts the Last Judgment.

The Garden of Earthly Delights. Triptych painting by Hieronymus Bosch, c. 1495-1505. The Garden of Eden is depicted in the left panel, with God introducing Eve to Adam. The middle panel depicts a fantastic world of temporal pleasure, and the right panel depicts the Last Judgment.

It was branded as Satanic. Evangelicals feared it, and tried to keep it away from their children. They truly believed that subliminal messages from the devil were contained in this “poor excuse for music”, which could be discerned by playing the albums backward on a turntable.

And so their children had to sneak it into their bedrooms. Which wasn’t easy. If you ever tried to hide one of those big square albums under your shirt, you’d know what I mean.

They only listened to it when their parents weren’t home. And oh the brainwashings they got! Our culture went through a giant youthquake back in the 60’s and 70’s, when heavy metal rock music crashed onto the scene. And our attitudes have never been the same, since.

What evangelicals did not realize, was that these “demonic” strains from Hades–this heavy metal music–were originally inspired by the Bible.

Douglas Ingle grew up listening to his father play the organ in church. He idolized his dad, and learned a lot about music from him while growing up.

He joined a rock ‘n roll band in his high school years, then eventually formed his own combo as a young adult. He played the organ. But his biggest ambition was to write musical scores for motion pictures.

He began experimenting with electronic sounds. Then he decided to encapsulate all these sounds into a dramatic, motion-picture-like theme. He was trying to capture the full range of man’s emotions, from tranquility to rage. Ingle figured that the best place to start would be with the history of man, right at the beginning. And being raised with religion, he believed the beginning of man’s history was documented in the Book of Genesis.

So he came up with a basic tune, and basic draft of lyrics. And in his mind he named this tune, “In the Garden of Eden.” Then he made a little recording of the melody on his rock band’s only tape recorder.

Later that day Ingle was hanging out with some young ladies, and getting drunk on Red Mountain Rose wine. A fellow band member, the drummer Ron Bushy, was hanging out with them. Ingle told Bushy about the recording.

Bushy listened to it and probably said something like, “Far out man! What do ya call it?”

Ingle was very soused by this time. He thought he said, “In the Garden of Eden.” But he slurred his words so badly that Bushy thought he said, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.” Bushy wrote that down, and that became the title. Ingle didn’t mind the title change, because he wanted this to be a spiritual song for everyone, and not just for Bible believers.

And that is how the band Iron Butterfly came up with one of the very first heavy metal tunes. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida became a 17-minute smash hit that inspired the birth of the heavy metal rock movement. It was one of Iron Butterfly’s few hits, and was by far their biggest.

The In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida LP was released in the summer of 1968, and rose to the best-selling album of 1969. It was the first album to ever be awarded platinum status, and has since been certified 4x platinum. It’s also achieved worldwide sales of over 30 million copies (including mine). In 2009, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida was named the 24th greatest hard rock song of all time, by VH1.

The success of Iron Butterfly, along with Blue Cheer, Jimi Hendrix, and Steppenwolf, gave birth to this new genre of rock music we refer to as heavy metal, hard rock, acid rock, and of course “Satanic” music.

I remember when In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida first came out in 1968. Two of my sisters had boyfriends with the sobriquets of “Lurch” and “Fluffy”. Lurch was tall and goofy. Fluffy was a pudgy little gregarious guy with charisma, who you couldn’t help but like. Lurch and Fluffy brought the controversial Iron Butterfly album over, on a night when my mother and stepfather were out for the evening.

They played it over and over, long and loud, on my mother’s hi-fi. And they smoked cigarettes. Tareytons, in fact.

When they weren’t looking, I picked a smoldering butt from the ashtray and sneaked a puff. It was the first time I ever smoked. And the last. It made me feel horribly sick in a way I’ve never forgotten. Nobody need lecture kids on the evils of smoking. Just let them take a puff on a Tareyton, and I guarantee it will cure them for life.

In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida was considered “psychedelic rock” at that time, as the term “heavy metal” had not yet been coined for music. But Lurch and Fluffy were not druggies who took psychedelics. Their idea of getting high was to hyperventilate and then feel dizzy and giddy.

Lurch was a tall, lanky bean sprout. I remember him huffing and puffing, with his face turning red and purple. Then he passed out, fell backward, and his extensile frame carried his head crushing through the gypsum wall of our living room.

We were mortified. At first we thought he was dead. But after he woke up, our next fear was how to explain the hole in the wall to our parents. We decided to just hide it by moving some furniture around. They didn’t discover it until about six months later, when we moved. And of course “nobody knew” how it got there.

Lurch outgrew our town, and found a higher calling. I don’t remember, but it could have been a basketball scholarship.

Fluffy was drafted and served in Vietnam. He came back in a wheelchair, a bitter young man. And he no longer wanted to be our friend. Or anyone else’s friend, for that matter.

The 60’s and early 70’s brought major changes to our society and culture. Sometimes this was beautiful, other times dangerous, and many times it was tragic. Through it all, it seemed as if we were fighting the devil, while trying to return to the Garden of Eden.

There truly was a subtle message in that demonic music. For the sound of heavy metal accurately reflected the times.

You can read more about the story behind In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, from Douglas Ingle himself, here: http://www.chickensoup.com/book-story/30716/in-a-gadda-da-vida

And here’s the original In-A-Gadda-Da-Vidda, if you care to trip back to the ’60s:


Categories: History

9 replies »

  1. While that song was playing in my head throughout this entire post, I didn’t know the back story to the song or its title until I read this. As I’ve said so many time, one of my favorite things about your blog is that I never know what I’ll end up reading about. But it’s always a prize!

    I often think about how music helped form our identities in the 60s and 70s, I think more so than any previous generation. Music changed the world and taught us that all we need is love and to give peace a chance. I hope in the coming difficult times that music can do the same thing. Although I fear I will be commenting in the modern equivalent of “Get a Haircut” ;(

    Liked by 2 people

      • In ’68, I was in grade school & still listening to bubble gum music ~ Davy Jones, Bobby Sherman, the Partridge Family, the Archies. In the 70’s, with a few more years under my belt, I listened to Janis, the Stones, Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly, Jefferson Airplane, Frampton, etc., while doing homework, talking on the phone, playing ping-pong, brushing my teeth . . . and other fun things.

        “Music is my food and life . . . don’t take it away.”

        Liked by 1 person

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