On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post everyday (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be…
Jefferson Airplane – White Rabbit (1967)
From the UK yesterday, dear reader, and back to the US today where we head on back to California. There have been a fair few acts from this state and today we have another one in the form of Jefferson Airplane. We pick up their story when Grace Slick had joined the ranks having previously been with The Great Society. Prior to Jefferson Airplane, Slick had penned the song, White Rabbit, which was reworked in her new group and took on the form that landed it a place on this 1001 list of ours.
White Rabbit combines tales and characters from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to depict the effects one has when taking hallucinogenic drugs. Slick apparently wrote it following her own experiences of an acid trip. We hear tales of taking pills and the varying impact on a person. The smoking caterpillar is in there and we have talk of having had some kind of mushroom as well. The song closes with mention of the Dormouse and the memorable line, “Feed your head”. Personally, I have never taken drugs and based on the lyrics here I’m not sure I would enjoy such a surreal journey.
My knowledge of Jefferson Airplane is pretty limited though I was familiar with White Rabbit and Somebody to Love, which were the group’s biggest hits and both psychedelic classics. White Rabbit is slow-paced and has an eerie feel to it throughout. Slick’s vocals tower over the music and the denouement as she bellows “Feed your head” is powerful stuff. The group had split by 1972, with Slick going on to form Jefferson Starship which later had to change its name to Starship, famous for such songs in the 1980s as Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now and We Built This City. Anyone remember those?
Favourite songs so far:
Ben E. King – Stand By Me (1961)
The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)
Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)
The Righteous Brothers – Unchained Melody (1965)
The Who – Substitute (1966)
The Rolling Stones – Paint It Black (1966)
The Beach Boys – God Only Knows (1966)
The Beatles – Eleanor Rigby (1966)
The Monkees – I’m a Believer (1966)
The Doors – The End (1967)