“It’s about us, me and Jerry Garcia and David Crosby, stealing a starship. Hijacking a spaceship. It’s my answer to the ecology problem. We’ll land wherever we want and then take off again. There’s millions of other whole planetary systems. What old Owsley could do is to make a machine that would go that far that fast. He’d just read some books for a couple of weeks and get it down. That’s how he made acid. I mean if you give him $50 billion and an island and a machine shop, he’d have the starship together in less than a year. Us, the [Grateful] Dead, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Quicksilver [Messenger Service] being part of the plan to take all the millions that they earn from rock and roll, buying an island in the Pacific or somewhere and setting Owsley up with a lot of bread and a lot of equipment to build some super machines. Get the starship and all the people who want to go on it and start driving.”
Paul Kantner to Ben Fong-Torres, Rolling Stone, November 12, 1970
As the unquestionably (in)famous, Kantner-piloted Blows Against The Empire album celebrates its second half-century of psychedilly service to Owsleynaughts everywhere this month, I hearby admit to
Ten Reasons Why Gary Pig Gold Still Flies Jefferson Airplane
1. Most likely the very first band to ever put Lewis Carroll into the Top Ten.
2. Up-front ’Planes Grace Slick and Marty Balin brilliantly perfected the très fine art of razor-edged vocal interplay; a key element of the band’s appeal and one which would be perfectly recast a decade later via that other anti-Sonny & Cher: Exene Cervenka and John Doe of X.
3. Meanwhile, unlike Messrs. J. Garcia and Mick J., Marty took no guff whatsoever from those Hells Angels at Altamont, his years of training as bouncer at The Matrix club ensuring that leather jackets and pool cues posed absolutely no threat to him whatsoever.
4. Blows Against The Empire rates straight up there with Smash Your Head Against The Wall and Alive and Well in Argentina in the Pioneering Solo Album sweepstakes …especially if you nabbed a first pressing with the silver-ink tinfoil reflective inner gatefold.
5. and Speaking of cool covers, Bark came (initially) housed within the sort of everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink packaging RCA Records would never again attempt …at least until the Guess Who’s even fishier Artificial Paradise two years later.
6. Pioneering as well are the Airplane’s forays into the realm of rock ‘n’ commerce, first by recording a series of jingles for Levi’s Jeans and, more recently, setting sail with the White Rabbit Celebrity Cruises line. Plastic? Yes. But not necessarily fantastic.
7. Which reminds me: Didn’t Grace and Paul’s daughter China – she who can still be seen hoisted high up the Sunfighter sleeve – work as an MTV veejay at one point ??
8. “Alright friends, you have seen the heavy groups, now you will see morning maniac music, believe me”: G. Slick, Bethel, NY, 8 am, 8/17/69.
9. “A real slap on her goony ass helps you sleep. Bet you eat her figs this week”: G. Slick and F. Zappa, “Would You Like A Snack?,” 6/5/68.
10. Finally, and most notably, in my record collection at least Surrealistic Pillow continues to rest quite comfortably indeed right there beside Jandek’s Twelfth Apostle.