Sunday, September 6, 2015

A Better Way to Fly

Song 267: This week on the playlist you can find Somebody to Love by Jefferson Airplane, written by Darby Slick. Somehow I knew the name Jefferson Airplane for a little while before I heard this song, and I believe that name came to me from 2 different directions. First, I think someone in my social circle had a copy of the Donovan LP Sunshine Superman, and in a casual listening to the record, the words "Fly Jefferson Airplane, get you there on time" floated by my ears once or twice. I also seem to recall a magazine article mentioning that newer rock groups were choosing names less like the Byrds or the Seekers and more like Buffalo Springfield or Jefferson Airplane, which was a change I didn't necessarily welcome. At any rate, I had no particular attachment to the JA name until this single took off all over the airwaves in the spring of '67, at which point I decided that maybe the name Jefferson Airplane actually did have a good sound. I couldn't get enough of this single in that spring, no matter how many spins the radio gave it, and on a sunny midsummer afternoon when I snuck the transistor radio out into the back yard, at the magic moment the local station played this track, life felt very good indeed. I had very quickly learned the lead singer's name Grace Slick, and at some point saw the name Slick listed as the songwriter on the 45, so I mistakenly assumed that the woman with the very impressive voice had also written the tune. She did actually write the follow-up hit White Rabbit, but it would take a couple of years before I found out that it was her then brother-in-law Darby Slick who had penned this track. That little piece of info doesn't add or take anything away from this amazing recording, but as a songwriter, I've always paid attention to who writes the songs, and I always want the writer to get some share of the credit for a magic song. Decades later, I still feel that magic rush of joy when I hear Grace sing "When the truth is found to be lies and all the joy within you... dies!"

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