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Feed your head: Grace Slick’s isolated vocal track for ‘White Rabbit’ will blow your mind
10:14 am


Grace Slick
isolated vocals

The great Grace Slick.
Though the epic, unforgettable Jefferson Airplane jam “White Rabbit” was in fact written under the influence of LSD by Grace Slick while she listened to Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain album, Slick maintains that the song and its references to mushrooms and chasing rabbits was not exactly about drugs per se.

Over the years Slick has said that the song was taking aim at children’s stories that in her mind were laced with drug references, specifically Alice in Wonderland, the 1865 novel by Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) and its many mentions of potions and a water pipe smoking caterpillar. The fierce vocalist also noted that the anthemic conclusion of the song where she belts out the “Feed your head” bit was a call to arms of sorts about the importance of education and the idea of enlightening your mind and senses.

So now that we’ve got our little psychedelic history lesson out of the way, you might want to take a seat while you listen to the powerful isolated vocal track from “White Rabbit” that awaits after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Grace Slick says ‘f*ck’ on American TV for the very first time, 1969

Watch below as Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick becomes the very first person in history to say “fuck” on American television on August 19th, 1969—the day after Woodstock—on The Dick Cavett Show. Technically the whole band pretty much sings “fuck” if you want to split hairs. Someone had to do it first, I’m glad it was the Airplane.

“We Can Be Together” was the lead-off number on the band’s politically radical Volunteers album and the B-side for the “Volunteers” single. Due to the group’s unique contract for the times—they had complete artistic control—RCA had to go along with whatever the Jefferson Airplane wanted, including “shit” and “motherfucker” appearing in their lyrics. For the single, the “motherfucker” was mixed low, but not actually bleeped.

The song’s music and lyrics are credited to Paul Kantner, who claimed to be inspired by the Black Panther Party’s use of the “Up against the wall, motherfucker” battle cry, itself a phrase 60s activists often heard coming from police and national guardsmen during that tumultuous era.

Kantner also cribbed some (nearly all) of the lyrics from something called “The Outlaw Page” that appeared apparently first as a leaflet and then in the East Village Other underground newspaper. “The Outlaw Page” was a polemic written by a guy called John Sundstrom, who was a member of an anarchist/Situationist-inspired Lower East Side-based “street gang with analysis” called the Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers [UAW/MF] whose name came from a poem titled “Black People!” by Amiri Baraka. The Motherfuckers, whose unprintable name made them virtually press-proof, were involved with storming the Pentagon, setting up crash pads in New York City for counter culture types and the occupation of Columbia University. Marxist philosopher Herbert Marcuse’s stepson, Tom Neumann was an early member.

Sweet young Joni Mitchell had just finished singing her lovely, lilting “Chelsea Morning,” when big bad Grace belted these words out to an unsuspecting America:

We are all outlaws in the eyes of America
In order to survive we steal cheat lie forge fuck hide and deal
We are obscene lawless hideous dangerous dirty violent and young
But we should be together

Come on all you people standing around
Our life’s too fine to let it die and
We can be together

All your private property is
Target for your enemy
And your enemy is We

We are forces of chaos and anarchy
Everything they say we are we are
And we are very
Proud of ourselves
Up against the wall
Up against the wall motherfucker…

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
That one time when Grace Slick made a synth-pop album
08:59 am


Grace Slick

In 1984, Jefferson Airplane/Starship’s Grace Slick, then (and still) closely associated with hippie culture, released a curveball of an album—a straight up contemporary synth-pop record, saddled with the not-trying-at-all title Software. (The back cover depicts Slick as a floppy disc being inserted into a glowing slot, already an eyeroll-y cliché even then). It would completely fail to chart, and end up being Slick’s final solo album ever.

Software’s music was written by an Austrian keyboardist/producer named Peter Wolf (not the J. Geils Band singer nor any relation), who had history with Frank Zappa, and who would follow Slick back to Jefferson Starship, writing the hugely successful (but pretty dreadful) single “No Way Out” from the Nuclear Furniture LP, an album so glossy that Paul Kantner, Slick’s ex and the last remaining member from the Airplane’s original lineup, left the group in disgust, and took the “Jefferson” part of the band’s name with him. Reduced to just “Starship,” the band would go on to release one of the absolute worst singles of the rock era, the notorious and deathless “We Built This City.”

One of the songwriters credited on that infamous turd? Peter Wolf. The man has things to answer for. (He also played a role in the ‘80s Adult Contemporary decay of the once-great Seattle hard rock band Heart.)

But here’s the thing: Software? Not a lost classic by any means, but definitely interesting, and certainly nothing approaching the fucking horrorshow that was Wolf’s later debasement of Slick’s counterculture legacy. I don’t care if I ever own a copy, but it’s worth discussing because it wasn’t a misbegotten novelty record, nor was it an if-you-can’t-beat-‘em-join-‘em move towards new production norms; the First Lady of Hippiedom was genuinely interested in the new synth music that by 1984 was no longer a novelty. From Jeff Tamarkin’s Got a Revolution! The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane:

Software, as its name suggests, put Grace in line with the popular, contemporary techno-pop sound of the mid-‘80s. Although guitar is used, the album is overshadowed by Wolf’s synthesized keyboards and bass, and electronic drums. Grace had become enamored of the synthesizer technology of the time, and decided to jump in all the way. Her singing here avoids her trademark free-form wails in favor of precise, short bursts, learned parts rather than improvisations.

The album was represented by two singles: “All the Machines,” a cool piece of music impaired only by ham-fisted lyrics about workplace automation, and the lousy “Through the Window,” a bit of throwaway mainstream pop that sounds painfully dated now. It’s also the home of a weird song called “Me and Me,” which seems to be about someone with multiple personality disorder falling in love with someone else with multiple personality disorder.

More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Grace Slick’s insane and mercifully short-lived blackface phase
10:48 am


Grace Slick
Smothers Brothers

The values dissonance all over this is staggering: in 1968, the Jefferson Airplane appeared on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour to sing the title song from their then-new album Crown of Creation. For this appearance, the band’s almost totally uninhibited singer/provocateur Grace Slick sang in blackface and ended the performance with a black power salute.


Slick maintained that the gesture was one of solidarity with either the Black Power Movement generally or Angela Davis specifically (online sources differ, and the difference is sufficiently moot that I don’t care to spend all day Encyclopedia Browning so fine a point), but I can’t imagine how anyone could think that the intent of solidarity could possibly trump the massively offensive history of minstrelsy ineradicably attached to blackface performance. But it could have been just a blip if Slick hadn’t doubled down, appearing on the January 1969 cover of Teenset magazine in blackface. Giving a black power salute. (Irony abounds in that mag: other articles in the same issue include “Jimi Hendrix, Black Power, and Money,” and an editorial by Pat Paulsen about censorship on The Smothers Brothers’ Comedy Hour.) In an article titled “Grace Slick is an Attention-Getting Device,” Slick claimed to have had “about forty different reasons” for the stunt, but specified six of them. Hold on to your hats, people:

1. “If you listen to the words of ‘Crown of Creation,’ think about a spade singing it. It makes a lot of sense.”

2. “Women wear makeup all the time, so why not black? Next time maybe I’ll wear green. Makeup is pretty silly anyway…”

3. “I did it because it was a trip; it’s weird to have blue eyes and a black face.”

4. “The whole thing started when I was watching TV and someone said that blacks look better on television in closeups, so I wandered around the house wearing blackface and flashing on myself in the mirror. Perhaps a bored socialite can do the same thing and go shopping in blackface and maybe pick up some bargains.”

5. “There weren’t any blacks on the show and the quota needed a little readjustment.”

6. “I knew nearly everybody would object to it.”

I get that this, like the original stunt, was a youthful acid-head’s deliberate exercise in provocative audacity. And I’m not posting about this to harp on someone’s decades-old misstep, but because the implications and associations all over this are fascinating to me. But I can’t shake that not-even-a-thing drop of a racial slur in the very first list item. But then I consider the appalling R. Crumb character “Angelfood McSpade,” and I wonder just how prevalent WAS such casual racism in the ‘60s counterculture? Or was “spade” somehow considered OK then? In the wake of the Civil Rights Movement? I can’t even imagine, but then, I wasn’t born until 1970 and was never a hippie, so what do I know? If we’re to believe this was an expression of solidarity—and apart from what seems today like shocking tone-deafness, there’s little reason to believe it wasn’t one, the Jefferson Airplane’s radicalism wasn’t posturing—then the slur would seem way out of bounds. Like I said right up front, values dissonance all over this. But after that issue of Teenset, perhaps realizing she wasn’t doing anyone any favors, Slick seems to have let the blackface stunt drop and went back to being more productively badass. Until Jefferson Starship…

After the jump, the controversial performances of “Crown of Creation” and “Lather”...

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Grace Slick has two regrets: Never screwed Hendrix, never rode a horse
08:25 am


Jimi Hendrix
Grace Slick

When Grace Slick talks, I listen. She’s nobody’s fool, she speaks her mind, and she can be hysterically funny. She is a good example for the young people of today.

She’s also got her priorities straight. Lately, I’ve been reading interviews with Slick from recent years, and when the interviewer gets to the inevitable question of regrets, the singer’s answers are remarkably clear-sighted and consistent. There are just two big ones:

The things I wish I did do that I did not do, were screw Jimi Hendrix, and ride a horse.


There are a few lesser regrets that orbit these two—never went to the Middle East, never screwed Peter O’Toole, never got drunk with Richard Harris, Oliver Reed, Richard Burton, and Peter O’Toole—but Hendrix and horses pretty much constitute the whole of Grace Slick’s regrets in life.

But there aren’t too many regrets, because I did pretty much what I wanted to do. So now, as an old person, I don’t have these huge regrets. Mine are fairly minor. They have to do with drinking and screwing, so that’s not all that important (laughs).

Abso-fuckin’-A-lutely. This is the kind of peace of mind you get as the reward for living a decent, godly life. I am reminded of William S. Burroughs, who, contemplating his relatively good health at the age of 82, attributed his longevity to “living right.” Ignore Grace Slick’s example at your peril, young people.

Slick appeared on Tom Snyder’s show in 1998 to promote her memoir, Somebody to Love? She talks about the time the cops knocked on the door and she answered it wielding a shotgun, the time she tried to outrun police cars in her Aston Martin, the time she and Abbie Hoffman went to the White House to dose President Nixon’s tea, and a lot of other occasions when she grabbed life by the balls.

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Psychedelic ‘Sesame Street’: Grace Slick’s free-jazz counting songs & ‘The Tomato’
11:33 am


Grace Slick
Sesame Street

Years of evolution has all-but-erased Sesame Street‘s psychedelic foundations. It was conceived as a much, much weirder show than its current incarnation, which is so often merely a vehicle for that cloying furry menace, Elmo and whatever flavor-of-the-week celebrity is looking to expand their fanbase to the preschool demographic. This is not to say Sesame Street never trafficked in star power—from the very first season in 1969, the show boasted among its visitors Burt Lancaster, James Earl Jones, Carol Burnett and… Grace Slick.

Yes, the voice of Grace Slick, of Jefferson Airplane (and other, less noble projects) was featured in nearly every episode of Sesame Street‘s debut season in 1969, singing absolutely deranged counting songs over psychedelic free jazz and groovy animation. I’m not sure if it taught any kids their numbers, but it’s sure as hell hypnotic. Slick’s role in the show was preceded by her recent participation in the Jim Henson-produced documentary, Youth 68—a study on the exploding 60’s counterculture.

Something even weirder after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Go Sketch Alice: Grace Slick’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ artwork
09:40 am


Grace Slick
Alice in Wonderland


After her retirement from music in 1988, singer and ‘60s icon Grace Slick took up visual art. Although she had been interested in drawing and painting since she was a child, she admits to not being able to concentrate on several things at once, and leaving music finally freed her to pursue art. She has done portraits of fellow musicians and friends such as Jerry Garcia, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Janis Joplin, Pete Townshend, her Jefferson Airplane bandmates, and Sting, of course, but the other originals and prints that sell well are her charming Alice in Wonderland-themed works. Many of them feature, as one would expect, the White Rabbit. He is prominent in her 420 Collection  pro-marijuana legalization pieces.

slick tea party
Once Upon a Time

slick cheshire cat
The Cheshire Cat

slick white rabbit
White Rabbit

slick trust

slick rabbit lap
Alice with White Rabbit

slick catepillar
Hooka Smoking Caterpillar
More after the jump…

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Leave a comment
Grace Slick sings about her period in ‘Would You Like a Snack?’ (with Frank Zappa)
12:55 pm


Frank Zappa
Grace Slick

Grace Slick wanted Frank Zappa to produce the Jefferson Airplane’s fourth album, Crown of Creation, but he was too busy at the time doing his own thing. They must’ve gotten beyond the discussion phase, however, because one number was put on tape at RCA Studios in Hollywood, the avant garde oddity, “Would You Like A Snack”  a freeform freakout with a multi-tracked Slick singing about getting her period and oral sex.

Zappa was credited at the June 5, 1968 session at RCA Studios in Hollywood as the “leader” and shares songwriting credit with Slick. Also present were Mothers Ian Underwood on piano & woodwinds, Don Preston on keyboards and Art Tripp on drums & percussion.

The track was first released on the Jefferson Airplane Loves You box set in 1992

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Grace Slick tries to interview Frank Zappa in 1984
03:27 am


Frank Zappa
Grace Slick

Grace under pressure.

While I’m a big fan of The Mothers Of Invention, I am not as enamored with Frank Zappa’s post-Mothers career as some of my co-contributors here on Dangerous Minds. His sarcasm is both his strong point and his weakness. In the context of his music, I dug his snarly, cynical attitude on Freak Out! and We’re Only In It For The Money. But, his wiseass arrogance and disdain for people grew tiresome for me. This interview with Grace Slick is a perfect example of Zappa being a supercilious prick. He obviously agreed to the interview. So why be so difficult? It’s not funny or particularly hip. He has no problem promoting his upcoming album and Broadway project, but he gets all surly and evasive when he’s asked some questions that might have actually resulted in some interesting insights, the Varese stuff for instance.

Slick is wonderfully accommodating and almost Zen-like in the way she handles Zappa’s snide attitude. Sorry Frank, I’m not impressed. But, at least you set a fashion trend for white-framed sunglasses that hipsters today have adopted along with your holier-than-thou emptiness.

This was Grace Slick during her Jefferson Starship period and I could go on about that, but it will have to wait for later. Slick’s credibility was almost deep-sixed by the hideous “We Built This City On Rock And Roll.” But, at least, she never resorted to wearing goofy sunglasses. She opted for pasta optics.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Joan Jett, Chrissie Hynde, Debbie Harry, Patti Smith, Grace Slick and Stevie Nicks skateboard decks

Nice homage to iconic female rockers with these cool skateboard decks, “Girls Girls Girls” from Girl’s 2010 Summer collection. Sadly, it appears they are no longer available on Girl’s website, but with a lil’ investigating, you’ll be able to find them. Ebay, perhaps?

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘The Last Supper’ Luchador skateboard decks
Alien vs. Predator skateboard deck
‘The Shining’ skateboard deck by Kevin Tong
Miles Davis Quintet Skateboards

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Portraits of musicians on vinyl records

I really like these hand-painted vinyl records from artist Daniel Edlen. According to his web site, Daniel also does drawings of authors on their books. I’m partial to the Zappa, natch.

See more of Daniel’s work after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
A Tournament of Sally Go Round The Roses

Some claim the 1963 hit single Sally Go Round The Roses by The Jaynetts is the first recorded psychedelic pop tune. While this may or may not be true, it’s certainly a beautifully hypnotic, circular number with mysterious and whimsical lyrical imagery. It’s also, I’ve discovered, one of the most covered songs ever so I’ve decided to line up most of the versions I’ve found. Play ‘em one after the other or mix and match to make your own trance-inducing rose parade. Let’s begin with the original. I have no proof, but it’s claimed that the drummer on this session was Buddy Miles, later of Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsies.

Many more roses after the jump…

Posted by Brad Laner | Leave a comment