My Music Lexicon: I is for Incredible String Band (and Janis Ian)

The letter ‘I’ isn’t exactly awash with possibilities for a Music Lexicon – unless you genuinely are/were a fan of INXS, which I’m not/wasn’t. Fortunately though, for me there was one standout candidate to fill this particular vacancy – The Incredible String Band.

‘Psychedelic folk’ is a fair enough shorthand description of the Incredibles, so in a broad sense they fall into the same category as Eclection. My ‘folk’ button had been pressed by Bob Dylan and my psychedelic one by the post-Strawberry Fields Beatles (an important part of which was the sound of the sitar, which I loved as soon as I heard it on ‘Within You Without You’ from Sgt Pepper’s).

Accordingly, the Incredible String Band were in just the right place at just the right time as far as the development of my musical tastes was concerned.

The psychedelic ‘bit’, if you will, certainly made them a lot more interesting, both visually and aurally, than the archetypal bloke in tatty sweater with his finger in his ear wailing about dead sailors. I remember I went to see them while I was still at school,  at the Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool on a Saturday night, so that was probably in 1969.

However, my best guess would be that I first encountered them on TV, quite possibly on this performance from the Julie Felix show in 1968, which combines lyrics that might best be described as ‘hippy-whimsical’ with the exotic drone of the sitar.

Honourable Mention

Like I said, the letter ‘I’ isn’t an overpopulated region musically, but thankfully there is Janis Ian, who for this song alone is worthy of an Honourable Mention.

It’s the only thing by Janis Ian I could even name and even though it didn’t appear until well after I’d passed that age, and it’s written from a feminine perspective, to me it still encapsulates teenage angst perfectly.

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