You Can Be Anyone This Time Around
January 29, 2012 5:14 AM   Subscribe

In 1970 Timothy Leary recorded an album called "You Can Be Anyone This Time Around". Now largely forgotten, without even a Wikipedia entry, the title track is worth a listen. posted by twoleftfeet (30 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
God, if that band sounded any more *San Francisco* they'd be, like, the Golden Gate Bridge.

And good ol' Timothy: "the pursuit of happiness means the right to get high"... "the function of government is to get everyone high and feel good". Now that's some political science, right there!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:28 AM on January 29, 2012 [5 favorites]

Bah! I need the whole album. I'm filling out my annual tax return and cannot for the life of me think of a better soundtrack....
We need another Tim Leary to help us cut through all the crap that our civilisation has buried itself in.
That track is amazing - thanks for posting it.
posted by Monkeymoo at 5:38 AM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had this on CD once. I believe it was reissued by Rykodisc. If I recall correctly, in the liner notes it said that Jimi Hendrix plays bass on the title track.
posted by chillmost at 5:49 AM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

God, if that band sounded any more *San Francisco* they'd be, like, the Golden Gate Bridge.

supposedly it's steven stills on guitar, jimi hendrix on bass, buddy miles on drums

i can't tell with the latter two, but the guitar player is most certainly stills
posted by pyramid termite at 5:52 AM on January 29, 2012

This was actually played on WFMU's alternate stream programming on Election Day of 08. Needless to say, it blew my mind!
posted by wheelieman at 5:54 AM on January 29, 2012

Nice to see people finally getting around to some 40-year-old Leary signals.
posted by rmmcclay at 6:22 AM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had some sweet Leary track on Last.FM or something a couple years ago and it was all this like psycho-mind-imagery stuff. I don't think it was based on the Psychedelic Book of the Dead, but maybe I'm wrong. It was that sort of thing. I thought maybe it was this, but that's not it. It was him leading a girl through a trip or something? Anybody know what I'm talking about?

There's also You Can Be Shiva by Space Tribe which has a sample of what sounds like Leary saying "You Can Be Shiva" and I thought maybe it was taken from this? But I'm too lazy to listen to the whole link you just posted.

Golden Gate Bridge, indeed. :)
posted by symbioid at 6:51 AM on January 29, 2012 has the mp3s for You Can Be Anyone....
posted by symbioid at 6:58 AM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

ROOT CHAKRA - this is the track I was thinking of :) Good neuroprogramming hypnosis stuff - Heh - it's sampled on Deee-lite now that I listen :)
posted by symbioid at 7:02 AM on January 29, 2012

Interesting, he uses the word "scam" in its modern sense, I thought that originated with ABSCAM. Google ngram shows usage of that word in the '60s is related to longwall coal mining and the Scam instrument corporation.
posted by 445supermag at 7:03 AM on January 29, 2012

scam - 1963, n. and v., U.S. slang, a carnival term, of unknown origin. Perhaps related to 19c. British slang scamp "cheater, swindler" (see scamp (n.)).
posted by symbioid at 7:09 AM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Just think - without Leary's endless babbling about the glories of LSD in every form of media he could wedge himself into, we'd probably be able to buy acid at the corner 7-11*. Okay, probably not, but still he could've used just a little discretion.

*I recently discovered that the location of the first, original 7-11 building, opened a century ago, is just around the corner from my house. It's not a convenience store anymore, though. It's something else.
posted by item at 7:11 AM on January 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

item there is an old interview with Ginsberg where he laments Leary's showboating as maybe the very worst disaster of them all.
posted by bukvich at 7:14 AM on January 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

Hey, I'm pretty sure the awesome track you linked is "Live Let Live" (Leary says it at 1:42). The title track is actually on side B, which jumbles extended samples from the Beatles, Ginsberg, Indian music, etc. and includes this vivid evocation of the times:

"You can be anyone this time around, and sit in a cave in the Himalayas with a 10-foot erection making love to the universe and laughing and smiling with high priests and everyone this time around."

The reason this might matter is that the groovy little jam behind Leary in your link is Jimi Hendrix on bass, John Sebastian and Stephen Stills on guitars and Buddy Miles on drums.
posted by mediareport at 7:31 AM on January 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

(The Ash Ra Temple piece in your other link is from a couple years later.)
posted by mediareport at 7:32 AM on January 29, 2012

symbioid: has the mp3s for You Can Be Anyone....

I wonder how that is allowed - it isn't that old of a recording.

It may not be on Wikipedia, but it is on Discogs, where you can see that it was re-released on CD in 1992 and 1996.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:52 AM on January 29, 2012

there is an old interview with Ginsberg where he laments Leary's showboating as maybe the very worst disaster of them all.

Hmm. It's a lot more complicated than that. It was the already-infamous Ginsberg who gave Leary the idea to get celebrities and intellectuals to take the drug, hoping to create a group of folks who would lead the vanguard into a new psychedelic era before the government got wise. There's a 2010 book, White Hand Society: The Psychedelic Partnership of Timothy Leary & Allen Ginsberg, that explores this stuff in depth. I haven't read it but here's a great interview with author Peter Conners about "The Plot to Turn On the World." It has lots of fascinating info about Leary, Ginsberg, Burroughs, Kesey, the Beatles, etc. (and really makes me want to read the book).
posted by mediareport at 7:59 AM on January 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

Can't help posting a couple of great excerpts (apologies for the length):

Silberman: Until I read your book, I never realized how much of an influence Allen had on Leary.

Conners: It was massive. That’s really the heart of this book: How Allen Ginsberg enabled Timothy Leary to become Timothy Leary. It goes back to Allen being asked to give a presentation to all these psychiatrists coming in for an annual conference in Boston. Allen gets up there and reads a poem called “Lysergic Acid” and another called “Laughing Gas.” After the conference, Allen hears about Leary’s work and Leary — who was involved in testing psychedelics as “psychotomimetics,” substances that mimic psychosis — hears about Allen. Before then, there wasn’t really any artistic component to Leary’s research.

So in comes Allen, this great networker, this expert at forging connections between people in a very pure and organic way, and he turns Leary onto this idea of getting great artists and intellectuals to take these drugs.

One of the interesting side stories I love was William Burroughs coming to stay with Leary at Harvard, and having the same beef with him that the Harvard establishment had. Burroughs wanted rats running through mazes, electrodes, serious scientific studies going on. But after staying in Leary’s attic for a while he said, “You know, nothing is going on here — you guys are just getting high and enjoying yourselves!” And he started denouncing Leary. So Burroughs was the first influential figure from the counterculture to turn against him.

Another of Leary’s early clashes with the counterculture was the “houseboat summit” set up on Alan Watts’ houseboat by an underground newspaper called The Oracle following the Human Be-In in 1967. The participants were Leary, Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, and Alan Watts. I reprinted the entire summit in the back of the book because I thought it was such a valuable and insightful discussion. Leary had just started to unveil the “turn on, tune in, drop out” trip. Part of the idea of the Be-In was to bring together the free-speech Berkeley radicals with the hippie drop-out scene. So you had Leary coming in as one of the gurus of the counterculture, and you had these anti-war movement people in Berkeley saying, “Well, you can’t just ‘drop out.’ There’s a war going on, that’s completely irresponsible, we have a lot of work to do.” The houseboat summit laid open that divide very clearly. Leary stuck to his guns. He said that by engaging politically, you were empowering the war machine. That wasn’t going to go over well with people whose friends were going off to die in the jungle....

So you see this divide emerging at that summit. Ginsberg was much more engaged in the anti-war movement, and starting to become more politicized, and he had given up on some of the Blake vision stuff. He wanted to engage with society and forge a poetics of activism....

The other thing that made Allen distinct from Leary was that Allen was very practical. People see pictures of Allen dressed up in an Indian shmatte and chanting “Om” and they think, “This guy is totally off the wall.” But that’s the opposite of the truth. In fact, Allen was completely down to earth — a classic, skeptical delicatessen intellectual who would have said to anyone, “Drop out? OK — what then?”

But before you solidify the "Leary was crazed! The counterculture was outraged!" formulation in your head, be sure to read about this famous meeting between the Leary and Kesey crews:

Silberman: One of the poignant moments in the book is when Kesey and the Merry Pranksters arrive at Millbrook at the end of their cross-country trip in the bus called Furthur. You might think that Kesey, the guy who turned on the West coast, might get along with the guy who turned on the East coast, but they didn’t.

Conners: There was definitely a philosophical divide between them. The Leary camp saw themselves much more as spiritual investigators. They would tape themselves chanting translations of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, which they had turned into a kind of roadmap for psychedelic experience. So you’d be sitting in this quiet room, listening to these soothing voices coming in, and it was all meant to really guide your trip. Then you had Kesey with his Acid Tests – this massive Jackson Pollock approach to psychedelics, where you splattered things on the canvas, and out of that came the living artwork.

The timing of that visit was problematic too. The Millbrook folks had been up tripping all night and were just starting to come down, and up the road comes this busload of people peaking on acid, blaring rock music, and throwing smoke bombs out the window. They quickly pegged Leary’s group as a drag. They called that quiet-room stuff the “crypt trip.” The way the Pranksters saw it, Leary’s folks were trying to control the trip too much, as opposed to opening things up and making it all this spontaneous artistic celebration.

Seriously: if Kesey's crew had driven up in their bus, peaking and throwing smoke bombs, while Leary's crew were peaking and chanting translations of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the history of the United States of America would be very, very different.
posted by mediareport at 8:15 AM on January 29, 2012 [9 favorites]

Blaming Leary for the continued prohibition of psychedelics is like blaming Richard Dawkins for sharia law.
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 8:32 AM on January 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

*heh* It's available on iTunes. Althought Live And Let Live seems to be missing about 4 minutes of material if you buy it there.
posted by hippybear at 8:32 AM on January 29, 2012

A list of LSD albums recorded by Leary.

Some interesting information about YCBATTA on this page, including in the comments.
This album was recorded in '68 when Leary was running for governor in California. The first track includes several quotes from his press conferences relating to this. Curiously Lennon's "Come Together" was actually written for this campain that was aborted due to Leary's many legal hassles.
posted by hippybear at 8:38 AM on January 29, 2012

haven't listened to this yet but i did like something else that timothy leary did with the revolting cocks: gila copter!
posted by lester at 9:22 AM on January 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

A list of LSD albums recorded by Leary.

Ha! I have all of those!

Still, my favorite song with Leary samples has still got to be Ministry side project Revolting Cocks' "Gila Copter."

"Open your trembling earballs!"
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:23 AM on January 29, 2012

Oh, damn it, lester.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:23 AM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

> Blaming Leary for the continued prohibition of psychedelics is like blaming Richard Dawkins for sharia law.

From the Silberman Conner interview:

His way was almost guaranteed to provoke a hysterical response.

It's ambiguous. Logically it's from the same mold as the conservatives saying "only Nixon could establish relations with Communist China" or "only Reagan could get arms reductions from Gorbachev".

Also Silberman may just be channeling Ginsberg there, but there is a strong current of regret that Leary went overboard.
posted by bukvich at 9:46 AM on January 29, 2012

Just read Marc Olmsted's mildly critical review [pdf] of Conners' book ("a useful if somewhat problematic synthesis of the history of Ginsberg’s and Leary’s involvement with LSD") linked in that interview I posted, and it's also really good, adding even more complexity Olmsted says Conners left out about Ginsberg's (and Burroughs') evolving opinions on spirituality and psychedelics:

Had Conners considered Ginsberg’s relationship with Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa, whom Conner barely mentions, his account of Ginsberg’s involvement with psychedelics would be better grounded and nuanced. Ginsberg’s explorations of alternate modes of consciousness were only partially "about" LSD, but the book’s commitment to Leary as the self-styled high priest of LSD weights the book toward psychedelics and minimizes Ginsberg’s shifting relationship to acid....

Conners does mention Ginsberg talking to the Dalai Lama in India in 1962: "As with most of the holy men they encountered, the Dalai Lama replied that, if anything, drugs were a distraction from true enlightenment." But Conners omits the pithiest instructions Gingsberg felt he received:
I went on to Kalimpong to visit Dudjom Rincpoche, the head of the [Tibetan Buddhist] Nyingma school, and I brought him my problems with LSD…He did give me a very good pith instruction, which I never forgot. "If you see something horrible, don’t cling to it, and if you see something beautiful, don’t cling to it."
Similarly, Conners omits Jack Kerouac’s wackily astute comment to Leary about psychedelics: "Walking on water wasn’t built in a day." Conners’ quotation from Steve Silberman’s 1987 interview with Ginsberg does, though, sum up Ginsberg’s later view on acid to some degree: "probably a good idea for an intelligent kid – they should also be prepared with some techniques for meditation, so they can switch their attention from bum trips back to their breath, and to the current space around them."

Most fun part might be this Burroughs quote:

"...their immortality cosmic consciousness and love is second-run grade B shit. Their drugs are poison designed to beam in orgasm death and Nova ovens. Stay out of the garden of delights. It is a man-eating trap that ends in green goo. Throw back their ersatz immortality. It will fall apart before you can get out of the big store."

Ha. Burroughs.
posted by mediareport at 10:37 AM on January 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

Here's the entirety of Dave Marsh's review (from the Rolling Stone Record Guide) of Leary's' The Psychedelic Experience' LP:

'Look, when you grow up around people like this, you know what to do: stay the hell away, because they'd only get you in trouble, and then dodge the blame (and the pain). There are more interesting ways to be conned, believe me.'
posted by jeffen at 10:53 AM on January 29, 2012

he uses the word "scam" in its modern sense

Leave it to Tim to be up-to-date on the latest meaning of that word.
posted by Twang at 11:32 AM on January 29, 2012

Timothy Leary was the guy who found the Allen wrench and then declared that the bookshelf was assembled.

Don't confuse the tool with the solution.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:03 PM on January 29, 2012 [5 favorites]

I'm pretty sure the awesome track you linked is "Live Let Live"

Yeah, that's right. Sorry about that.
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:29 PM on January 29, 2012

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