I have to be honest but “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” would not be one of my favourite Rock songs. However it is a classic Rock song nonetheless.
A friend once asked me if I knew the song “In the Garden of Eden” . He had heard it in the 1986 film “Manhunter” I corrected him and told him that the title was in fact “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” by Iron Butterfly.
It was only later that I discovered that we were both technically correct, in relation to the title.
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.
Released in 1968, “In a Gadda Da Vida” is Iron Butterfly’s one and only hit. And this 17-minute song was recorded when the singer was not completely sober. The words ‘in a gadda da vida’ occur at the beginning and the end — in the middle it’s mostly instrumental. Which is a good thing because apparently the singer was drunk or high or both, and slurred the words ‘in the garden of eden.’ What you’re hearing, in fact, wasn’t supposed to be recorded, it was only meant as a soundcheck. The producer hadn’t arrived and the band was just kind of messing in the studio, but the engineer was rolling tape. At the end of it he decided it was actually pretty good. 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.
“In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” was Iron Butterfly’s only song to reach the top 40, reaching number 30,though the album containing the full-length song was far more successful, reaching number four on the album chart and selling over a million copies. An 8-minute-20-second edit of the song was included in the soundtrack to the 1986 film Manhunter, the first movie to feature the character Hannibal Lecter. In 2009, it was named the 24th-greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1. It is also often regarded as an influence on heavy metal music and one of the firsts of the genre.[
My favourite version of the song featured in a 1995 episode of The Simpsons, “Bart Sells His Soul”, in which Bart Simpson tricks Reverend Lovejoy’s church into singing the song as an opening hymn by handing out sheet music titled “In the Garden of Eden” by “I. Ron Butterfly”. Lovejoy describes the hymn as “sounding like rock and/or roll”. The church organist, an elderly woman, collapses after playing for the entire seventeen minutes.