(Wherein we chance upon something Slick.)

Posted by Job O Brother, March 23, 2009 06:16pm | Post a Comment

Furvin Kryakutnoy, Russian inventor and possibly the inventor of the hot air balloon,
has nothing to do with this blog entry.

Here I am, again on my own. I can feel your pretty eyes on me, reading this, waiting to see what I have to say for myself. I am in the past – your past. By the time you read this, I will be gone. I will have scribbled my way through another witty and unnecessary blog.

But here in the past, dear reader, things do not seem so certain. I do not know, as yet (for example), what this entry will be about. Oh sure, it’s easy for you to scroll down the page and glean its general themes, but for someone like me who lives back in the time before this blog was written and done, all is mystery. All is uncertain. I do not even know who or what music or movies will first be mentioned.

Shall I leave it to chance? Shall I see what the Oracle that is YouTube has decided is an appropriate recommendation for me? (For those of you who don’t know, after you’ve used YouTube a bit, it begins to analyze what you tend to look for, then it offers suggestions of stuff you may enjoy, based on your history.) Here, then, is what YouTube thinks I will fancy:



I’m not sure what to say. I can’t think of anything I’ve tried to find on YouTube that would justify this selection. Do they know something about me that I don’t? Some deeper insight unavailable to my conscious mind that only they, in their ability to collect and refine data, can provide?

Or are they as incapable of analyzing data as your local Scientology front? (I’ve taken that Scientology “personality exam” many times and offered wildly different answers each occasion,only to find that, no matter what you answer, they always conclude the same thing: You need Scientology NOW, else you’re liable to RUIN EVERYTHING.)

Because I neither read nor speak Chinese, I do not know who is singing the above song. Heck, I don’t even know what dialect that is. I do know the song, in its original form, was recorded by Starship and was a #1 hit for them in 1987. It was the theme to the film Mannequin.

I also know that, while I have no documented evidence to support this theory, I am almost certain that listening to this song too much will give you ear cancer. I don’t care if there’s “no such thing as ‘ear cancer’” – this song will CAUSE IT. Like, for the first time, and while you may appreciate the notoriety that comes from being the first documented case of ear cancer, you will NOT like what it will do to the color of your Eustachian tubes. Trust me. No amount of Hannah Montana visiting you in the hospital, compliments of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, is gonna make it worth your while.

Perhaps YouTube thought I’d be into the song because of my deep love for Grace Slick’s earlier work? I’m pretty much always in the mood for some Jefferson Airplane or Jefferson Starship. It’s when they dropped the "Jefferson" off that they left me behind, too.

For those of you who I’ve left behind in the above paragraph, a brief explanation: Grace Slick is a goddess, but is better known as a singer. She was the powerful female voice in the iconic hippie band Jefferson Airplane, whose most famous song is "White Rabbit."

This is one of those songs that people come into Amoeba Music looking for without knowing anything about who or what it came from. Usually they’re ladies in their late teens/early 20’s, who end up trying to sing fractured lines from it in their effort to describe it. It’s sweet, it’s hilarious – it’s one of those things that make my job worthwhile.

But many people have at least a cursory knowledge of the album Surrealistic Pillow, the album from which this song (plus other hits) is from, when for me, the album I find myself going back to the most is their final-- the gloomy, angst-ridden but still rockin' Bark. This is my favorite cut from the album:

The lyrics perfectly capture the complexities of those times, as a generation of rebels were faced with impending adulthood in a society they had so passionately sought to undermine, and Slick's voice is so raw, so cocky and confident, but still utterly sincere. It kills me dead.

Later, Jefferson Airplane became Jefferson Starship. The line-up changed and the music grew increasingly political – the Hippie was sounding more Yippie. The most famous song from this incarnation was this little ditty:

Finally, after years of alcohol, car wrecks and divorce, Grace Slick continued mutating along with the band that became Starship – one of those bands that has come to epitomize the evil power of the era that Reagan ruled. Remember this…?

Owweee. It hurts me on my insides. Even so, my admiration for Grace Slick remains. You can't fault someone for making a bad record in the 1980's any more than you can fault a first grader for failing to draw a realistic landscape.

Slick’s retired from the music business, though she’s coaxed out now and again for reunions, cameos, and chocolate cake eating.

Now, now, wild eyes - Grace Slick in your past (and future).

I remember, when Patti Smith performed for us at Amoeba Music Hollywood, how it was with tremendous reverence that she briefly waxed about the glory that was Grace Slick and how influential she'd been tn Patti's own work. It was such a cuddly moment you could almost forget that either of the two women could knock you on your ass in eight seconds flat.

So maybe YouTube was on to something when they suggested what they did. Of course, I had to do a lot of stream-of-consciousness exercises to arrive where I did, and even then, I’m not sure what this is. I don’t write these entries in an effort to provide a definitive history of a band or artist. Mostly I just like to provide some FYI’s on stuff that I know a lot of people don’t realize. You geeks who spend more time reading the liner notes on LP’s than calling your dear, sweet mother may already know everything I’m talking about here, but there’s plenty of readers who don’t, and this is for them.

“Oh, I didn’t realize that song was by them, too!” That’s the sort of thing I want to hear. Those of you who want something more obscure to titillate you, try this on for size…

Relevant Tags

Youtube (12), Mannequin (2), Yippies (1), Hippies (5), China (19), 1980's (21), Grace Slick (2), Jefferson Airplane (3), Jefferson Starship (2), Starship (6), 1960's (84), 1970's (33), Patti Smith (24), Amoeba Music Hollywood (104), Arik Einstein (1), Furvin Kryakutnoy (1)