Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In), Kenny Rogers & the First Edition (1968)

The week Dock of the Bay reached #1 for Otis Redding posthumously, charting in at #5 was a bizarre but highly original composition by prolific Nashville songwriter Mickey Newbury that never fails to bring a smile to my lips when I hear it.

Before Kenny Rogers became a country music phenom, he was a member of The First Edition, a group of refugees from The New Christy Minstrels who felt the need to branch out creatively. I think they achieved that and then some with Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In).

As musical exploits go, this one was a doozie. The song's guitar reverb and reverse riff at the intro - not to mention the insane vocals on the chorus, particularly at the end - established it firmly in the annals of psychedelia. Although Newbury intended it to be a cautionary tale against the use of hallucinogenic drugs, I'm not sure that's precisely how it was interpreted by all members of my generation!

Must-see TV in those days was the groundbreaking Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, which regularly featured Kenny and the group. Brace yourself! The show was a fixture of my weekly television viewing circa 1967-69 until it was unceremoniously axed by CBS, which was gripped in the throes of censorship thanks to Richard Nixon's growing paranoia about the dangers of the First Amendment.

I gather the song experienced something of a renaissance from its appearance on the soundtrack of The Big Lebowski. Haven't seen it, but it was used in a famous dream sequence, so I'm betting it gave everyone the same rush that it used to give us in the 60s. Must put that in my Netflix queue!


Mombi said...

You will enjoy The Big Lebowski. Kirk's totally obsessed with it!

I've loved every single song you've posted on here and love the backstories!!

cornbread hell said...

it can't be said too often...the big lebowski = great. the smothers brothers, too.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Big Lebowski is a GREAT film, a genuine cult movie (google "lebowskifest" to see what I'm talking about). If I had to live on a desert island with one movie, this would be it.

The Big Lebowski also has a terrific sound track, including a killer rendition of Hotel California by the Gipsy Kings.