Thursday, January 20, 2005
Saving The World
Grace Slick photo from one of her fan club sites
Segue back in time. Last year of graduate school. Sprawled on the apartment sofa of the man who is to become my first husband 14 months later, after his time in Viet Nam. He plays his latest LP. Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds fills the room.
Not since Bill Halley came out with Rock Around the Clock in my childhood, causing instant sermons on the sins of Rock & Roll all over the country, had I heard a piece of music that I knew would change the face of music in a major way once again.
We all thought Lucy was about the Beatles tripping (and yes, as we found out later, they did do that, too), but they claimed that the song came from a drawing by one of their six year olds. I'm not sure I believe them, but we'd have to play Revolver backwards to find out the truth on that one, I suppose. If you were born after the sixties, ask your mom or dad to explain that last reference.
Enter Grace Slick. Wilder than the Beatles could ever be. A sensual Janis Joplin in white boots, springing up on radios all over the country. Jefferson Airplane, her group. What could be more glamorous than the combination of San Francisco, the Filmore West, Haight Ashbury, and Ken Kesey blowing the scene , all at the same time. Grace was every wild woman's alter ego. She was music. She was sex. She was drugs. She knew no boundaries. I heard White Rabbit...here comes Alice..and she's ten feet tall...and no-one could say GRACE was singing about her six year old's drawing. Grace Slick and the Airplane became the music of the times. She made your heart thump, your feet long for adventure.
I finally saw her perform in the mid seventies. The band had changed names. Grace was older, tired-looking on a platform stage in a gymnasium somewhere in Massachusetts. The fire wasn't there like before, but the man in my life at that time and I sat on the gym floor in the dark, listening to that famous voice and were swept back to times when our generation believed flowers, protest marches, bell bottoms and free love would still save the world.