Green politics, philosophy, history, paganism and a lot of self righteous grandstanding.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Stuff Wot I Like: Jefferson Airplane

I have be a bit careful what I say sometimes as the eco-warriors I've hung around with over the years have tended to be a fairly punkish lot. At Wild Garlic if you were caught playing a penny whistle you were likely to see it nailed to a tree, and if you hummed a Bob Dylan song the same was likely to happen to you. However my tastes have always been much more hippyish and largely formed by the decade before I was born.

Actually the 'sixties' really began in about 1966 and ended in about 1974, so I was born slap bang in the middle, and the band that can most surely claim to be the most hippyish of them all was at its peak during this time.

Okay so The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, the Doors and The Who may have been better musically, but they just didn't walk the walk the same way as Jefferson Airplane. Songs about sex, drugs and flying saucers, a hot hippy chick on lead vocals who was sleeping with most of the band, an acrimonious split up and reincarnation, Spinal Tap style, as a second rate heavy metal band all make Jefferson Airplane the flower power band to measure all flower power bands by.

They played Woodstock, although their performance being delayed to the next morning sort of took the edge of things: great moments in psychedelia don't happen at eight in the morning. They courted controversy when a comment about a mud encrusted audience being "dirty jewels" was misheard as something anti-Semitic (as opposed to just pretentious). They were seen as being far more radical than they were: "Volunteers" sounds like it's calling on the fans to join the Viet Cong but was really inspired by a refuse collection lorry. And yet they still produced great music.

Perhaps only Crosby, Stills and Nash stand comparison in the league of all time hippy bands. Indeed, if you want to rouse a couple of old hippies to a heated debate (a very laid back heated debate admittedly) you could ask who's version of "Wooden Ships" is the best (the song was joint written so both are considered the original). Listen to the Airplane version in a chilled out mood and you can almost smell the weed. Listen to it in the wrong mood and you're bored before the end of the second verse.

So as fragile as a sand mandala, as coherent as an acid trip and as hippy as Donovan's paisley shirt, I present Jefferson Airplane.

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