October 08, 2012

The Great Society - White Rabbit [Live] (1966)

Formed in 1965, this band was named after a set of domestic programs initiated by President Lyndon B. Johnson in the fall of the same year. Inspired by The Beatles and newly emerging Jefferson Airplane, the group was initially composed of Grace Slick, her then-husband Darby Slick, and Darby’s brother, Jerry Slick. The group debuted at the Coffee Gallery on October 15th, 1966 in San Francisco, and released one single on Autumn Records. That single featured the A-Side “Someone to Love” and the B-Side “Free Advice.” “Free Advice” reportedly took over fifty attempts before getting a decent take and caused their producer, the then-unknown Sly Stone, to walk out on them. The A-Side, “Someone to Love,” written by Darby Slick, was taken by Grace when she parted with the group to join Jefferson Airplane. Renamed to “Somebody to Love,” the song propelled Grace and her new band to international stardom. Quite oppositely, Grace’s decision to join Jefferson Airplane directly resulted in this group’s demise.

Written in only one hour in either late 1965 or early 1966 by Grace, this song is widely remembered for its rendition performed by Jefferson Airplane. However, it too, was written when Grace was still a member of The Great Society. Later in 1966, when Jefferson Airplane’s first singer, Signe Toly Anderson, decided to leave the music business to raise a family, Jefferson Airplane approached Grace and asked her to join their band. Admiring how professional the group was in comparison to her current gig, Slick agreed and took this song with her. Although this early version of the song wasn’t released as a single or on a full-length album by The Great Society, it was recorded by the band at The Matrix club in 1966, along with eight other tracks. All of these tracks were later released on a 1968 live album, titled Conspicuous Only in Its Absence, which was Columbia Records’ attempt to cash in on Grace’s international stardom with Jefferson Airplane after their 1967 album, Surrealistic Pillow, which featured new versions of both “Someone to Love” and this song.

This early version of the song has a great, long instrumental in the beginning. If you're only familiar with the Jefferson Airplane version, it probably won't sound familiar until you reach the 4:22 mark. The song features Grace Slick playing an oboe.

album art

The Great Society - White Rabbit [Live] (1966)

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One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don't do anything at all
Go ask Alice
When she's ten feet tall

And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you're going to fall
Tell 'em a hookah smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call
To call Alice
When she was just small

When the men on the chessboard
Get up and tell you where to go
And you've just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving slow
Go ask Alice
I think she'll know

When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight’s talking backwards
And the Red Queen's “Off with her head!”
Remember what the doormouse said
“Feed your head!”
“Feed your head!”

Thank you, be back later.

1 comment:

  1. I love it. I am obsessed with Grace Slick. Someone needs to make a film about her long career from Great Society to Jefferson Airplane to 70s Jefferson Starship to 80s MTV Jefferson Starship to finally just Starship. And it should star Jennifer Lawrence as Grace.