Thomas McGrath’s post this morning about Kenneth Anger, Bobby Beausoleil and the Manson Family reminded me that I should look for a live clip of It’s A Beautiful Day’s classic “White Bird” and post that. It’s been lingering on my DM “to do” list for quite a while now.
“White Bird” is a song that most music fans (at least those of us of a certain age) will instantly recognize. It’s a Beautiful Day were “Summer of Love” San Franciscan contemporaries of The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Santana and their lilting rock, jazz, folk, classical style was unique in that context. They were neither very “proggy” or “fusiony. They certainly weren’t very psychedelic, either, but they made lovely music that still evokes an era splendidly, even if they are remembered primarily for just this one song. “White Bird” is one of the ultimate hippie anthems and has been a staple of FM radio for decades.
Ironically, bandleader and violinist David LaFlamme later said of “White Bird,” that the oh so pretty ditty was inspired by living in gloomy, soggy Seattle without a car:
“Where the ‘white bird’ thing came from ... We were like caged birds in that attic. We had no money, no transportation, the weather was miserable. We were just barely getting by on a very small food allowance provided to us. It was quite an experience, but it was very creative in a way.”
The group was managed by Jefferson Airplane and Moby Grape minder Matthew Katz, but the association was apparently an unhappy one and the band went through various personal changes before finally breaking up in 1974. Lead singer Patti Santos died in a 1989 automobile accident, but LaFlamme keeps the It’s A Beautiful Day flame burning with occasional live appearances and reunion shows.
In the clip below, taken from the 1972 documentary Fillmore, It’s A Beautiful Day perform “White Bird” while Bill Graham pontificates on the flower power generation. Sadly, they cut away to Graham speaking just as LaFlamme was about to go into his violin solo.