Album: The Psychedelic Furs (1980)

Songfacts®:

  • In the 1960s, hippies converged on San Francisco, specifically the Haight-Ashbury district. By the 1970s, many moved on and the movement waned, but many of those looking to continue their deep dive into alternative lifestyles and spiritual adventure found a welcoming host in Goa, India.

    India has long been a destination for foreigners looking to find a higher consciousness, often through meditation or yoga - The Beatles famously went there in 1968, an experience that inspired much of The White Album. Located on the Arabian Sea, Goa has appeal as a tropical paradise, with miles of beautiful beaches. They welcomed visitors and the money they brought to the economy.

    Goa drew many hippies from Europe, but the Americans really stood out, especially when they started littering the beaches and ruining the vibe. Psychedelic Furs lead singer Richard Butler took note, and used it as the seed of the song "India."

    "I remember hearing stories about Goa and how all the hippies, mainly Americans, would go over there, and there were needles all over the beach and what a ruin it was," Butler said in a Songfacts interview. "It turned out to be a junkie destination, and a lot of American hippie tourists went there. But it was kind of laughing, kind of sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek when it says, 'India, I'm American, ha ha ha.'"

    Goa still welcomes hippies, but it's become far more touristy.
  • On a more macro level, this song deals with the attitude that the problems of others are not a concern to us. It's a way for the well-off - epitomized in this song by America - to insulate themselves from the suffering of others.
  • A few years after releasing this song, Richard Butler and his brother Tim (the bass player in the group), moved to America from England. This was because, as Richard puts it, New York City is the "cultural capital of the world." And also because it's where the band was developing a more robust fanbase. With help from exposure on MTV, they could tour America and reach many of their fans.
  • "India" is the first track on the first Psychedelic Furs album, introducing a sound they called "beautiful chaos," with the six members competing for musical attention within the song. Running 6:21, it builds very slowly. The full instrumentation doesn't come in until 2:10, and the vocals don't show up until 2:30. The album was produced by Steve Lillywhite, who was also working another up-and-coming band, U2, around this time.
  • This was never released as a single, but has hung around as a live favorite, with the band performing it even after they reunited in 2000 after a nine-year absence. Richard Butler has cited it as one of his Furs favorites.

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