met a girl
many, many things:
very good things,
one sunny morning.
It was hot
but the snow lay on the ground.
very strange things,
my mind has wings.
Sandoz, Sandoz who taught me love.
Sandoz, Sandoz heavens above!
We could all learn something from your love.
is very old--
You may think she's young.
kiss from her
And you know your time has come!
for all time,
Sandoz! (3x and Fade)
When I Was Young was the first American Top Twenty song released by Eric Burdon in his new band configuration; now, rather than the Animals, the band with all new members would be known as Eric Burdon and the Animals. The break with his previous group coincided with Burdon's interest in psychedelic music. (The Animal's previous bass player, Chas Chandler, went on to manage the early career of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Burdon, then, was one of the earliest people to recognize Hendrix' talent.) Unfortunately, his production in psychedelia is uneven. When I Was Young, which was moderately successful on Top 40, is not among the Psychedelic Masterworks. I liked the Eastern scat of Burdon's singing during the break, but lyrically, the song was a clumsy restatement of Bob Dylan's My Back Pages. Over the past decades, Burdon's reputation in psychedelic music has diminished more than any other artist outside of Donovan. George Starostin wrote in his blog Only Solitaire: "Eric Burdon happened to acquire a Napoleon complex, unfortunately, at the very beginning of the Summer of Love...Burdon wanted the world to see him as a kind of New Prophet for the New Generation." He too often expressed his hippie enthusiasm and righteousness with less grace than the psychedelic artists he admired.
However, Eric Burdon & the Animals were one of the most successful Top 40 psychedelic artists of the classic period, with several hits that crossed into the Top 10. If Donovan had radiated the image of an exotic gypsy, Burdon expressed the blue collar workingman's take on LSD. The Animals had been a successful blues rock group, differentiating themselves from the Rolling Stones by their gruff manner, a lot of fuzz to the guitar, and Burdon's booming bass voice. With the advent of psychedelic drugs and aesthetic, Burdon would wander far from his usual tone, but on A Girl Named Sandoz I hear a link between his past career and that of his psychedelic creations. Burdon is still singing in the main just as he had in his previous hits, and the fuzz tone was there along with a blues structure. Yet the lead guitar improvisations are signature 1967--I believe that it's the first American foretaste of what Jimi Hendrix Experience would bring to the Summer of Love. And there's the B section with its romantic childlike sing song accompanied by what I believe to be a xylophone, played like bells, a gesture toward innocence that was part of the English psychedelic experience.
I grant that singing of a brand of LSD while pretending to be singing about a girl (similar to John Lennon's device for Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds) seems a little coy nowadays. But British tastemakers were known to ban records from the air, and this was a 45RPM single record to be played on AM radio, which made it even more susceptible to censorship. The fact that most of the listening public had no idea whatsoever what the reference to Sandoz was about helped to mask the psychedelic message. "She" is highly praised as the keeper of wisdom; as with Leary and most English artists, LSD was closely related to spiritual enlightenment, and advertised as a good thing, "a very good thing". Burdon tells us that LSD will teach us about love, and we could all learn from an acid trip that scrambled our habitual ways of making sense. With an elongation of the name Sandoz the singer suggests that an acid trip is similar to a dream, particularly in its relation to suspended sense of time.