“Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow” is the fifth track (first on Side 2 of the vinyl LP) on Strawberry Alarm Clock‘s 1967 album Incense And Peppermints. Both dense and flowing, it is one of the album’s more prominent psychedelic moments, and one of the highlights of SAC’s career.
Beginning with a dashing flute, and led throughout by bongos, the lyrics of “Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow” are a perfect mirror for the soft, blissed-out feel of the music, with a very subtle (and SAC-esque) hint of cynicism. “Poison dreams / Distorted dreams / Mushroom dreams.” The juxtaposition, striking as it is on paper, is actually less pronounced when listening to the song itself as the lyrics and vocals seem to be a more unconscious part of the song’s interconnected framework. It is entirely possible to feel the full effect of the song even without understanding English.
Also notable is the understated guitar figures that burble here and there, providing a slight jaggedness to counteract the smoothness of the rest of the track, and (especially) the glowing organ which drones majestically throughout, giving particular shape to the track after the vocals drop off on the “Mushroom dreams” part. Instrumentally, “Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow” is impressive for its highly evocative nature, and that it achieves this with a very small number of notes and changes.
“Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow” also has arguably the most mockable title on Incense And Peppermints (though several others could reasonably compete for the award). However, mocking such things is usually the hobby of embarrassed aging hippies who think Peter Max and the gratuitous use of the Arnold BÃ¶cklin typeface reflect the spirit of the 60s, or of people who have no interest in 60s or psychedelic music to begin with (Eric Cartman would hate it, for instance).
The fact is it rained then as now, and there were ways to while away a rainy day in a pleasant, psychedelic fashion — as now. If you are prone to liking psych/60s music, “Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow” comes as perhaps SAC’s most recommended song, exceeding even “Incense And Peppermints” itself.
The song was used in the 1968 Jack Nicholson movie Psych-Out.
LP: Incense And Peppermints (1967)
LP: Psych-Out soundtrack (1968)
CD: Incense & Peppermints (1990 compilation)
CD: Strawberries Mean Love (1992 compilation)
CD: The Strawberry Alarm Clock Anthology (1993 compilation)