The Jefferson Airplane Hit Grace Slick Admitted Was Poorly Written
Jefferson Airplane — one of the pioneering music acts of the 1960s and psychedelic rock genre. One of the first acts from the Bay Area to achieve global commercial success, the band made a breakthrough with their 1967 album ‘Surrealistic Pillow.’ This album ended up being one of the most significant recordings of the Summer of Love. It also brought Jefferson Airplane a wider audience after the band headlined iconic festivals like the Monterey Pop Festival, Woodstock, Altamont Free Concert, and Isle Of Wight Festival.
Looking through Jefferson Airplane’s music career, it can be said that they enjoyed great success during their era with numerous hits and chart toppers. However, Grace Slick once argued that one of their hit songs was ‘poorly written.’ To many fans’ surprise, it’s ‘White Rabbit,’ one of the band’s most successful and popular pieces. This song appeared on the ‘Surrealistic Pillow’ album and topped the charts along with ‘Somebody to Love.’
Written by Grace Slick, ‘White Rabbit’ uses imagery from Lewis Carroll’s 1865 book ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and its sequel ‘Through the Looking Glass.’ Slick wrote this song and ‘Somebody to Love’ while still a member of the Great Society. She then joined Jefferson Airplane after Signe Toly Anderson’s departure, and her songs later became associated with the band. ‘White Rabbit’ was one of Slick’s earlier songs, but this wasn’t the reason she claimed it was poorly written.
At the time of its release, ‘White Rabbit’ received a negative response from parents for praising the use of hallucinogenics and LSD. However, in a 1989 interview, Grace Slick argued that this wasn’t her intention. According to the singer, she wanted ‘White Rabbit’ to be a sarcastic song, as parents worldwide read their children fairytales that make kids believe it’s okay to take some substances to see Wonderland.
“Between the ages of 0 and 5, they say, is the most important information you’ll get as a child,” Grace Slick said. “Between the ages of 0 and 5, many parents read to their children ‘Peter Pan,’ ‘Sprinkle some dust on your head, and you could fly!’ ‘Wizard of Oz,’ ‘Fall on a field of poppies!’ ‘Emerald City,’ ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ you go down, you’re [little as fingers,] [a bottle] says ‘Drink me’ on it, you get literally high. You go up; there’s a caterpillar; smoke a little hash, bite off magic mushrooms, get loaded, and see Wonderland.”
“So the information is that some chemicals, something if you take it, is going to make you see Wonderland,” Grace explained. The singer also noted, “But they told us, ‘Don’t take these drugs; why are you taking them? You were brought up right!’ I was brought up with you reading me ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ ‘Peter Pan,’ and all these things said that if I take or find some chemical, I will be able to get real high, literally.”
Revealing she actually tried to write ‘White Rabbit’ as a sarcastic song to point this out. She continued, “So, the song is poorly written because it was written at parents. In other words, don’t get on me, you’re going to read this information, and it will stay with me. I was being sarcastic, kind of, but it didn’t quite come out that way. The lyrics are not at it quite so well or pointed as they should be.”
Grace Slick was also one of those children who were read ‘Alice in Wonderland’ by her parents. The book remained with her as a vivid memory and turned into the song ‘White Rabbit.’ Although the song is a timeless Jefferson Airplane hit that still has an audience today, Slick actually meant to be sarcastic while writing it. However, things didn’t go as she intended, and many argued ‘White Rabbit’ praised drug use.