I Answer Your Rock Questions, Part VII
Q: What does “In A Gadda Da Vida” mean?
A: It means “in the Garden of Eden.” Keyboardist Doug Ingle was composing a song one afternoon while drinking a gallon of wine. His group, Iron Butterfly, had broken up but he was determined to keep making music. He was living with another former member of Iron Butterfly, drummer Ron Bushy; Bushy came home after working at a pizza place and found Ingle sloshed after drinking almost the whole gallon of wine. When Bushy asked Ingle what song he was working on, Ingle drunkenly replied “inagaddadavida” in an attempt to say “In The Garden Of Eden.” Bushy liked it and wrote the title down so he wouldn't forget. Soon afterward they began looking for new members so they could put Iron Butterfly back together. Rumor has it that guitarists Jeff Beck and Neil Young were interested in joining but instead they hired 17-year-old Erik Brann. Bassist Lee Dorman was added and they soon proceeded to go into the studio to record IN-A-GADDA-DA-VIDA. The main reason the song clocks in at over 17 minutes was to give each band member a solo slot; also, extended jams were in high fashion at the time. In the second half of the song, you hear Ingle play a snippet of the Christmas tune “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” on his keyboard; Ingle says he included it because he “wanted to touch the spiritual.” The song's structure was also influenced by an African tribal mass titled “Missa Luba,” introduced to the rest of the group by guitarist Brann; Bushy's drum solo was especially based on this (it's been said that Ringo Starr spoofed that drum solo on the song THE END on the Beatles' “Abbey Road” album). The music for IN-A-GADDA-DA-VIDA was recorded in just one take with the vocals added later. The album reached #4, spending 140 weeks on the album chart in 1968 while the single was released twice: in 1968 (#30) and 1969 (#68).