If you ever wondered who took the clean-cut members of the Beatles and turned them into soul searching songwriters capable of penning wildly psychedelic tunes like “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “Within You Without You”, look no further than Bob Dylan. For it was on this day in 1964—so the story goes, anyway—when Dylan introduced John, Paul, George, and Ringo to the glories of smoking the ‘ol jazz cabbage.
Following their sold-out show at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, NYC on August 28th, Dylan arrived to meet the Beatles at the Delmonico Hotel across the river in Manhattan where the popular folk singer wasted no time in almost immediately pulling out a joint to smoke with the mop-topped foursome. While the band relayed stories to Dylan of trying cannabis once a few years prior in 1960, they said it hadn’t worked. Dylan clearly had the goods–as rock stars typically do–and the Beatles would go on to get ridiculously high on that fateful evening in New York City.
Dylan had apparently misheard the “I can’t hide” lyrics of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” as “I get high,” which inspired him to show up to meet the Beatles ready to smoke. When John Lennon told him the correct lyrics, Dylan responded incredulously and basically provided a bevy of joints for the Beatles’ all night long. Lennon would relive the experience on a later date, remarking, “I don’t remember much what we talked about. We were smoking dope, drinking wine, and generally being rock ‘n’ rollers and having a laugh, you know, and surrealism. It was party time.”
Paul McCartney insisted that one of the Beatles crew follow him around writing down all of his stoned ideas, believing that he was “Thinking for the first time,” and apparently coming up with a system of “Seven levels” that he progressed through during the experience. Read about his version of the story below:
I’d been going through this thing of levels, during the evening. And at each level I’d meet all these people again. ‘Ha ha ha! It’s you!’ And then I’d metamorphose on to another level…Mal gave me this little slip of paper in the morning, and written on it was, ‘There are seven levels!’ Actually it wasn’t bad. Not bad for an amateur. And we pissed ourselves laughing. I mean, ‘What the f—‘s that? What the f— are the seven levels?’ But looking back, it’s actually a pretty succinct comment. It ties in with a lot of major religions, but I didn’t know that then.
Watch Ringo revisit his memories from that fateful night during a 2012 interview on Conan below.
Ringo Starr on Conan – Bob Dylan Cannabis Story
[Video: Team Coco]
Shoutout to Bob Dylan for blowing the Beatles’ minds in August 1964. Without you, we likely wouldn’t have Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, or Abbey Road.
[Originally published August 2017]