“In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” (mistransliteration: “In the Garden of Eden”) is a song recorded by Iron Butterfly and written by bandmember Doug Ingle, released on their 1968 album In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.
At slightly over 17 minutes, it occupies the entire second side of the In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida album. The lyrics are simple, and heard only at the beginning and the end. The track was recorded at Ultrasonic Studios in Hempstead, Long Island, New York.
Together with music by Blue Cheer, Jimi Hendrix, Steppenwolf, and High Tide, the song marks the early transition from psychedelic music into heavy metal. 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.
Though it was not recorded until their second album, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” was written during Iron Butterfly’s early days. According to drummer Ron Bushy, organist/vocalist Doug Ingle wrote the song one evening while drinking an entire gallon of Red Mountain wine. When the inebriated Ingle then played the song for Bushy, who wrote down the lyrics for him, he was slurring his words so badly that what was supposed to be “in the Garden of Eden” was interpreted by Bushy as “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”. Catalogs.com confirmed that the song “was supposed to have been named ‘In The Garden of Eden’, but the singer was slurring his words when he told Ron Bushy, the drummer, the title, and the garbled name stuck.”
Even though nearly all of Iron Butterfly’s songs were quite structured, the idea of turning the minute-and-a-half long ballad into an extended jam emerged very early; Jeff Beck claims that when he saw Iron Butterfly perform at the Galaxy Club in April 1967, half a year before the band recorded their first album, their entire second set consisted of a 35-minute long version of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”.
“In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” was released as a 45 rpm single in the US and other territories. The 17-minute original version was edited down to 2:53. This version contains the intro, two complete verses, the repeat of the main theme very near the end, a short break, and the closing segment. All of the solos are edited out. The single reached #30 on the U.S. Billboard chart.
In the Netherlands (and perhaps other territories, too), a different, longer 4-minute, 14-second edit was released first on a 45 with catalogue number 2019 021 and later on an EP with catalogue number 2091 213. This edit features only one verse, a large portion of the drum solo, the final verse, and the closing segment.
Another edit, supplied to some radio stations, runs at 5:04. It includes the first verse, about 20 seconds each of the pipe organ and guitar solos, part of the drum solo segueing into the drum/bass solo, the final verse, and the closing of the song.
A European compilation album on the EVA label (EMI, Virgin, BMG, Ariola) entitled Pop Classics 2, features a 10:26 edit of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”. The original soundtrack CD of the movie Manhunter features an 8:20 edit of the song. In these edits, mostly the guitar solos were edited out.
A live version over 19 minutes long was released as part of their 1969 live album, simply titled Live. This version lengthens the drum solo by roughly four minutes and the pipe organ solo by about one minute. It also omits the bass and drum solo jam (heard from 13:04–15:19 on the studio recording).
When Doug Ingle wrote the song, he had not intended for it to run 17 minutes long. However, Ingle said that he “knew there would be slots for solos”. During live renditions, Erik Brann’s (guitar) and Ron Bushy’s (drum) solos varied from performance to performance, while Ingle’s pipe organ solo remained the same.