In 1966, the top of the music charts had a decidedly split personality. Hits like Last Train to Clarksville by The Monkees and Winchester Cathedral by The New Vaudeville Gang, were sharing the airwaves with The Beatles Tomorrow Never Knows and The Rolling Stones Paint it Black.
Chalk it up to social changes sweeping the nation, or perhaps the availability of LSD, but a new counter cultural approach to reality and spirituality was opening up and rock music was hitching a ride.
From Robert Johnson’s mythical “Deal with the Devil”, to the coded messages in Led Zeppelin songs, to the devilish imagery of heavy metal, the drive for the divine encounter rode shotgun with rock and roll – fueled by references to magic, arcane mysticism, Satan, the occult, and lots of drugs.
It also kept rock & roll from dissolving into the sugary waste of the pop charts. That’s the theory put forth by author Peter Bebergal in a new book called Season of the Witch: How The Occult Saved Rock and Roll.
Listen to Peter's conversation with Virginia about the book below. We've also included some of the full songs Virginia and Peter talk about in the interview.
1. The Monkees - Last Train to Clarksville
2. The New Vaudeville Gang - Winchester Cathedral
3. The Beatles - Tomorrow Never Knows
4. The Rolling Stones - Paint it Black
5. Led Zeppelin - Ramble On
6. The Rolling Stones - Sympathy for the Devil