We thought we’d dip into the Far Out Magazine vault to look back at the enigmatic voice of the counterculture movement, the inimitable Grace Slick, with her mesmeric isolated vocal for Jefferson Airplane’s 1960s anthem ‘White Rabbit’.
Slick was widely known as one of the most prominent voices of the scene which flourished out of San Francisco in the ’60s, professing free-thought and the utmost pursuit of creativity. She used that voice to flesh out a truly wonderful career that spanned over four decades across a multitude of different acts.
Grace Slick has traversed genre and decade like a small bump in the road. The beauty of being such a longstanding performer means that different fans will love Slick for different reasons, she will have soundtrack different times, different parties in different eras. Having performed with The Great Society, Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship and Starship she is a mainstay of the music scene and the ace up the sleeve of any DJ.
Slick, over time, has provided vocals on a host of iconic rock and roll tunes including ‘Somebody to Love,’ ‘We Built This City,’ ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now’ and a ost of other party-starting hits. But perhaps her most poignant number was her ode to the psychedelic movement which was sweeping the western world at the time, ‘White Rabbit’.
Slick, undeterred by the repercussions was one of the first artists to sneak drug references under the censor’s noses and into pop songs. The track may have later become an anthem for narcotics but Slick says that beyond drugs the song “is about following your curiosity. The White Rabbit is your curiosity.”
The singer also revealed that the song’s references may have been shocking to some but seemed a natural progression to her, suggesting it may well be because of the previous generation’s own experimentations, “Our parents read us stories like Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz,” Slick recalled.
She added: “They all have a place where children get drugs, and are able to fly or see an Emerald City or experience extraordinary animals and people… And our parents are suddenly saying, ‘Why are you taking drugs?’ Well, hello!”
While the composition of the song still resonates to this day as a masterpiece it is Slick’s vocal which we think makes this a timeless classic. She manages to convey the kaleidoscopic tones of the song’s content while maintaining an ethereal standoffishness that wouldn’t look out of place in the world of Cheshire Cat smiles. As clean as a bell, the vocals are like the crystalline lucidity of a swirling dream.
It’s an epic performance and one which deserves the space to breathe to be truly appreciated. So we are very happy to bring you the isolated vocal of one Grace Slick on Jefferson Airplane’s counterculture classic ‘White Rabbit’.