Friday, September 22, 2006

96. Jefferson Airplane - Surrealistic Pillow (1967)

Track Listing

1. She Has Funny Cars
2. Somebody to Love
3. My Best Friend
4. Today
5. Comin’ Back to Me
6. 3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds
7. D. C. B. A.—25
8. How Do You Feel
9. Embryonic Journey
10. White Rabbit
11. Plastic Fantastic Lover


Firstly I've got to make a disclaimer, White Rabbit is probably my favourite psychadelic song ever. And many other people's as well, it's is probably the most iconic song for acid use in the 60's and just for that this album deserves to be listened to.

Other than that this album is a bit hit and miss. However, the hits are really very good, while the misses are only comparatively bland and unfortunately make the album not as cohesive as it could have otherwise been. Not all of it is like White Rabbit or Somebody To Love. Some tracks seem to be more on the pop-rock side of the fence that psychadelia. Fortunately most of the album is really very good and very trippy.

If you are at all interested in late 1960's psychadelia this is an essential album, and this is the band that would later grace us with Jefferson Starship and just Starship followed by Jefferson Starship the Next Generation with such tracks of immortal beauty such as We Built This City. Is it better to burn out or to fade away? If Jefferson Airplane had burnt out after this the world would have been a better place... but not as funny. You can stream it from Napster or buy it from Amazon UK or US.

Track Highlights

1. White Rabbit
2. Somebody To Love
3. Comin' Back To Me
4. Embryonic Journey

Final Grade



I'll make this all about White Rabbit, from Wikipedia:

"White Rabbit" is a psychedelic rock song from Jefferson Airplane's 1967 hit album Surrealistic Pillow, also released as a single, peaking at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in that form. First performed by composer Grace Slick with her band The Great Society during 1966, this striking song proved an inducement to convince members of the Airplane to lure Slick away to join them.

One of Slick's earliest songs, written in either late 1965 or early 1966, it details parallels between the hallucinatory effects of LSD and the imagery found in the work of Lewis Carroll. References to Carroll's 1865 fantasy Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its 1871 sequel Through the Looking-Glass pervade the song: the title character, the Dormouse, and the Red Queen. A century after the fact, Carroll was busy in the rock and roll world of 1967; that same year John Lennon would refer to Looking-Glass in his densely textured "I Am the Walrus" composition recorded by The Beatles, and Carroll has often been stated as an inspiration in the writing of Syd Barrett for the first Pink Floyd LP, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

From the Jefferson Airplane website page at 'Grace has always said that White Rabbit was intended as a slap toward parents who read their children stories such as Alice in Wonderland (in which Alice uses several drug-like substances in order to change herself) and then wondered why their children grew up to do drugs. For Grace and others in the '60s, drugs were an inevitable part of mind-expanding and social experimentation. With its enigmatic lyrics, "White Rabbit" became one of the first songs to sneak drug references past censors on the radio. Even Marty Balin, Grace's eventual rival in the Airplane, regarded the song as a "masterpiece."'

Set to a rising crescendo similar to that of Ravel's famous Boléro, the music combined with the song's lyric strongly suggest the sensory distortions experienced with hallucinogens, the song later utilized in pop culture to imply or accompany just such a state. "White Rabbit" is one of two songs, along with "Somebody to Love," that Slick brought with her to Jefferson Airplane from her earlier group The Great Society when she replaced original Airplane vocalist Signe Anderson.

Cultural references

The drug-themed novel Go Ask Alice takes its name from the song, which includes the lyrics, "Go ask Alice/When she's ten feet tall." The book's protagonist is never named, but reviewers generally refer to her as "Alice" for the sake of convenience. The Columbia University health website Go Ask Alice!, however, does not take its name from the song.

Neo is told to follow the "White Rabbit" in the Matrix. One of many Matrix metaphysical "waking up" metaphors.

The song has been used several times on The Simpsons, such as in the episode "D'oh-in In the Wind." It mostly accompanies scenes when the effects of ingested drugs, such as marijuana, peyote, or LSD, are beginning to kick in.

The song also features in the thriller The Game at a scene where the film's main protagonist is being subjected to extremely powerful psychological attacks on his sanity and sense of safety.

The character of Richard Nixon sings this song in the Futurama episode "A Head in the Polls," telling his audience, "I'm meeting you halfway, you stupid hippies!"

The song was mentioned in Hunter S. Thompson's book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in the memorable scene in which Dr. Gonzo (the attorney) asks Thompson to throw the tape deck into the bath with him during a bad acid trip:

"…And when it comes to that fantastic note where the rabbit bites its own head off, I want you to throw that fuckin' radio into the tub with me!"

The song was also featured in Oliver Stone's Platoon; it is played in the background of the "Feel Good Cave" as the soldiers are getting high. It also forms the main menu music of the PC game Battlefield Vietnam.

More recently, the song was used on an episode of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Jay Leno talked about a town that has baseball "the way it used to be"; the hometown of that team is known for smoking cannabis, and this song played when they showed people in a park smoking.

In 2005 the song was used on C.R.A.Z.Y., a film directed by Jean-Marc Vallée.

Also in 2005 "White Rabbit" was featured in a delicate drug-related scene in Atom Egoyan's movie Where The Truth Lies, starring Kevin Bacon, Colin Firth, and Alison Lohman.

A "White Rabbit" cover portion has been a consistent part of Blue Man Group shows since their inception.

The song was played during an episode of HBO's The Sopranos. During a scene when Tony Soprano is struggling with taking more Prozac for his Panic Attacks.

A commercial for the video game Red Faction 2 used this song as well.

In the movie Stoned from 2005 the song is played when the character of Brian Jones takes LSD for the first time.

The song is played during a drug-related skit on an episode of The Daily Show.


The song was covered in the following years:

* 1971 – by the jazz guitarist George Benson
* 1980 – by the punk band The Last Words
* 1980 – by the punk / gothic rock band The Damned [1]
* 1981 – by the post punk band The Mo-Dettes in a Peel Session
* 1985 – by the hardcore punk band Ruin...[2]for their White Rabbit promotional cassette and later (1986) included in their Fiat Lux Album [3]
* 1987 – by the metal band Sanctuary
* 1987 – by the rock band Act
* 1989 – by the hardcore punk band Slapshot
* 1990 – by the house music duo David Diebold & Kim Cataluna [4]
* 1995 – by The Murmurs (MCA Records)
* 1996 – by the Icelandic singer-songwriter Emiliana Torrini
* 1996 – by the Norwegian Heavy Metal Band In The Woods for their White Rabbit EP and later (2000) included in their Three Times Seven On A Pilgrimage Album [5]
* 2001 – by the industrial band Collide [6]
* 2004 – by the performance art / experimental rock group Blue Man Group with vocals by Esthero [7]
* 2006 – remixed by the psychedelic trance act Fuzzion as Little Girl on the album Black Magic [8]
* 2006 – by the Brechtian punk cabaret duo The Dresden Dolls at the Bonnaroo Music Festival
* 2006 – by the Omaha ska punk band UmlaUt.
* 2006 – by The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps in their show "Volume 2: Through The Looking Glass."

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