One of the most blissfully indulgent rock songs, "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" is animal-instinct rock and roll, playing out for 17:05 in its unabridged form and taking up an entire album side. The mysterious title is one of the great legends in rock. You might think it has a deep, mystical meaning, but it's really a translation error.
The title was supposed to be "In The Garden Of Eden." Drummer Ron Bushy wrote it down as "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" because he couldn't understand was vocalist Doug Ingle was singing. Their record company was OK with the title because it sounds exotic and Eastern spirituality was big at the time, with The Beatles going to India and The Rolling Stones experimenting with Indian instruments.
As for the meaning of the song, it's just a guy affirming his love for his special girl.
This was written by Doug Ingle, Iron Butterfly's vocalist and keyboard player. His father was a church organist, which influenced the drawn-out organ riffs in this song.
When he wrote the song, Doug Ingle didn't intend for it to be over 17 minutes long, but that's how it played out when the band recorded it at what they thought was merely a soundcheck to test levels for engineer Don Casale while they waited for producer Jim Hilton to arrive. Casale, though, kept tape rolling, and the band got in a groove. After the rehearsal was completed they agreed that the performance - filled with mistakes but also with raw energy - was of sufficient quality that another take wasn't needed.
The single was edited down to 2:52, shaving over 14 minutes off the song! Some pop stations played the single, but much of the airplay came from progressive FM stations that played the long version, which wasn't available as a single (a 45 RPM vinyl disc couldn't hold nearly that much music). So to get the full song, listeners had to buy the album, and they did. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, the album, ended up selling over 4 million copies. Until Led Zeppelin came along, it was the best selling album in the history of Atlantic Records.
The band's original guitar player quit before this was recorded. He was replaced by Eric Braun, who had only played the guitar for three months.
The title loosely translates as "In The Garden Of Life."
This was the first hit song that could be classified as "heavy metal." The phrase was introduced that year in the Steppenwolf song "Born To Be Wild."
Iron Butterfly would have performed this at Woodstock, but they didn't make it because they were stuck at the airport.
Hip-hop artist Nas has two different songs that sample "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida." The first is "Thief's Theme" from his 2003 double album Street's Disciple
. The second is the title track of his 2006 album Hip-Hop is Dead
Nick - Erwin, NC
Danny Weiss of Iron Butterfly was recommended to Al Kooper by David Crosby (of Crosby, Stills, & Nash), right when Kooper was forming Blood Sweat & Tears. As given in Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards
, "I loved the guitarist, introduced myself, and explained this concept to him. He thought it was a good idea, but insisted that he was committed to the band he was in. His name was Danny Weiss, and his band was Iron Butterfly. He left soon after we met anyway, and joined the great but doomed band Rhinoceros."
Ron Bushy's drum solo is not as long as people think; it only runs about 2 1/2 minutes, from 6:30 to a little past 9 minutes. Doug Ingle's organ solo immediately follows.
James - Tracy, CA
The song was used in The Simpsons episode "Bart Sells His Soul," where Bart switches a hymn out for this song and convinces the Reverend Lovejoy it is penned by I. Ron Butterfly. The whole 17-minute version is played by the First Church of Springfield's exhausted church organist.
There are only 30 different words in this song, even though it is over 17 minutes long.