Saturday, June 24, 2017

Jefferson Airplane chart with “White Rabbit” 50 years ago (6/24/1967)

First posted 4/17/2020.

White Rabbit

Jefferson Airplane

Writer(s): Grace Slick (see lyrics here)

First Charted: June 24, 1967

Peak: 8 US, 6 CB, 7 HR, 1 CL, 94 UK, 12 CN (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 83.9 video, -- streaming


About the Song:

This was “one of the defining songs of the 1967 ‘Summer of Love’” SF and “one of the crucial sounds of the late ‘60s freak scene” DT of the psychedelic rock movement. When St. Louis radio station KSHE switched from an easy listening format to rock in 1967, “White Rabbit” was the first song they played to make it clear they “were aligning themselves with the counterculture.” SF

Grace Slick wrote the song while in her first band, the Great Society. The music came to her after taking LSD and listening to Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain for hours. SF The “insistent, militaristic rhythms and the way the song gradually builds to its menacing peak” TB were loosely based on the classical piece “Bolero” by Maurice Ravel. SJ

Of course, the lyrics were famously inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. She said, “Our parents read us stories like Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz…They all have a place where children get drugs, and are able to fly or see an Emerald City or experience extraordinary animals and people….And our parents are suddenly saying, ‘Why are you taking drugs?’ Well, hello!’” RS500

The FCC came down on the song as drug-related and it was banished from the airwaves, but not until the Nixon administration. Slick has said the song isn’t just about drug use, but “about opening up, looking around, checking out what’s happening…Feeding your head is not necessarily pumping chemicals into it.” SJ She’s also said, “I don’t think most people realize the song was aimed at parents who drank and told their kids not to do drugs.” SF

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