1959-67, 16mm to 35mm blow-up, color, sound, 3min (Beatles version)
1959-67/1996, 16mm to 35mm blow-up, color, sound, 14.5min (Terry Riley version)
Digitally restored, 2016.
“Tomorrow Never Knows” Performed by The Beatles
Courtesy of EMI Records Ltd. under license from Universal Music Enterprises.
Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, published by Sony/ATV Tunes LLC (ASCAP). All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
“Poppy Nogood” Performed and Composed by Terry Riley
LOOKING FOR MUSHROOMS (1959-1967) is a visionary travelogue documenting a psychedelic “trip” through rural Mexico and urban America. The film combines street views of San Francisco that Conner and Bob Branaman shot in the late 1950s with scenes of rural Mexico that Conner shot during a series of “mushroom-hunting” excursions between 1961 and 1962, while he and Jean Conner were living in Mexico City. On at least one of these trips, the Conners were joined by Timothy Leary, the ex-Harvard professor and a leading proponent of psychedelic drugs. Whereas an earlier versions of the film was silent and played on a loop, in 1967 Conner added a psychedelic rock ’n’ roll soundtrack, The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows” off their 1966 album Revolver. The lyrics to the song were famously inspired by Leary, Ralph Metzner and Richard Alpert’s 1964 book The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead, which advised those under the influence of psychedelics to “turn off your mind, relax, float downstream.” Arguably among his most hypnotic and visually arresting films, Conner later noted that LOOKING FOR MUSHROOMS (along with COSMIC RAY) was often rented by advertising agencies who were presumably interested in his use of rapid-fire editing and strobe to generate psychedelic effects and generate subliminal messages. – Johanna Gosse, Art and Film Historian.