The Only Two Country Icons Grace Slick Liked
Many critics and artists believe that music genres can be seen as interwoven, blending to create a diverse and rich art form. Despite the cultural differences that often separate genres, such as rock and country, they often have more common qualities than meets the eye. However, there is a significant difference in the feelings that these genres evoke in their listeners’ hearts. For instance, let’s imagine going to a concert of a rock act and a country act.
A rock concert is like a high-octane action movie on steroids, where both the performers and the crowd are leading actors since it takes two to rock. The energy is electric, the rebellion is real, and the fans are wild and frenzied. They’re there to let loose, escape reality, and be a part of something bigger than themselves. Thus, the feeling a listener is left with after a rock concert is often catharsis.
On the other hand, a country concert is like a heartwarming family drama. The warmth is palpable, the community is tight-knit, and the tradition is strong. The crowd is more subdued but no less passionate. They’re there to connect with the artist, to sing along to the familiar lyrics, and to feel a sense of belonging to a community. Hence, a country fan often leaves the concert filled with comfort and belonging.
Jefferson Airplane, led by Grace Slick, was known for their wild, controversial, and theatrical concerts. It’s not hard to see how Grace’s rebellious character would have found rock concerts to be the best outlet for her wild spirit. Her voice and stage presence enchanted millions, and her lyrics were filled with counterculture references and anti-establishment sentiments, making her a perfect fit for the rock genre.
With these in mind, it’s understandable that she couldn’t relate to the more traditional and subdued vibe of the country genre. The themes of nostalgia and longing for a simpler way of life did not resonate with her as much as the energy and rebellion of rock music. In fact, she once shed light on this issue while speaking to David Letterman in 1983.
When Letterman asked Grace Slick about her thoughts on country music, she initially laughed and quipped, “Why do you bring things like that up? I’d rather talk about sex and drugs.” It should be noted that this playful response is characteristic of Grace Slick’s public persona, which was often marked by a sense of willingness to push boundaries.
However, when pressed again to share her thoughts, Grace revealed that she did in fact have a couple of country icons that she liked. The rocker admitted, “I like a couple of people, yeah, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. But beyond that, I can’t really get too warm because I don’t understand the constant sad lyrics about ‘My baby, why don’t you come back’ and crawling on the floor after my man.”
Slick added, “But it’s getting good; it’s not like that anymore. So, you know, there are some musicians that are excellent.” Although she might have sounded dismissive and arrogant at the beginning of her answer, preferring to prioritize rock culture, the case was actually the opposite.
The lead vocalist was clearly aware of the changes happening in the country genre at that moment. Around the time of the interview, the genre was evolving, and traditional country was being replaced by a new sound and style called ‘Outlaw Country,’ which was characterized by a more rock-oriented style and lyrics that dealt with more diverse themes and subjects.
This new subgenre of country music, which was led by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, might have been the reason why Grace Slick found them appealing. The fact that some country musicians decided to step away from the themes and subjects that the genre had overused seems to have piqued Grace Slick’s interest.