The Holy Modal Rounders were an American folk music duo from the Lower East Side of New York City which started in the early 1960s, consisting of Peter Stampfel and Steve Weber. They aimed at re-visioning traditional folk standards into a contemporary style.
The Rounders' self-titled debut album was released in 1964, and it included their version of this traditional number. Their adaptation included a few countercultural references, including the first use of the term "psychedelic" (here pronounced as "psycho-delic") in popular music:
Got my psycho-delic feet, in my psycho-delic shoes I believe lordy mama got the psycho-delic blues Tell me how long do I have to wait, or can I get you now Or must I hesitay-ay-ay-ate.
The word psychedelic is used as a general term for anything perceived as remotely avant-garde. It was originally coined by a British research scientist Humphry Osmond in a 1956 letter to Aldous Huxley as a term relating to hallucinogenic drugs. 'Psychedelic' represents the Ancient Greek words psyche ("mind") and deloun ("to make visible, to reveal"), since he regarded such as drugs as enriching the mind and enlarging the vision.
The first term the term "psychedelic" was used in a rock context was when the Blues Magoos titled their 1966 debut album Psychedelic Lollipop. The New York rock group were at the forefront of the late '60s psychedelic music trend. Other song titles included such spaced out numbers as "President's Council on Psychedelic Fitness" and "Subliminal Sonic Laxative."
The quintet appeared on-stage in light-up suits designed by Diana Dew, a designer who created a line of electronic fashion, including electroluminescent party dresses and belts that could sound alarm sirens.
The lyrics for "Mary, Did You Know?" were written by Christian singer and comedian Mark Lowry, after his pastor asked him to write a Christmas musical for their church. Southern gospel musician Buddy Greene later added music to his words.