Song of the Day for April 15: With a Little Help from my Friends (Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66)
The Illinois Crime Commission was created to look into organized crime. But in late 1970, it held public hearings about the dangers of drugs. One of the findings came on April 15, 1971. The commission released a list of the eight songs, “warning they were found to be ‘drug-oriented.’ ”
What were the songs, and why did they make the list?
According to the commission:
“Let’s Go Get Stoned” by Joe Cocker. The “lyrics have a double meaning, referring to alcohol but also drugs.”
“A Whiter Shade of Pale,” by Procol Harem, had “mind-bending characteristics of the psychedelics.” “Hi-De-Ho” by Blood Sweat & Tears was “about the joys of smoking pot.”
“White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane extolled the enjoyment of LSD. The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” was “street jargon for yellow barbiturate capsules.”
The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” depicted the pleasures of LSD, the initial letters of the song title. “Puff the Magic Dragon,” by Peter, Paul & Mary, was code for smoking marijuana and hash.
The Song of the Day, “With a Little Help From My Friends,” implied that those using drugs should share them with friends. The Beatles recorded the song for the “Sgt. Pepper” album. Joe Cocker’s version was a hit at Woodstock and reached number one in England. The commission, however, picked an obscure version of the song and couldn’t even get the name of the group correct. The commission called them Sergio Mendes and Brash 66, instead of Brasil 66.
The commission couldn’t ban the songs, but the Federal Communications Commission warned stations they could lose their licenses for what they play on the radio. It certainly made radio stations think twice.