Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Conversation with Grace Slick at The Grammy Museum - June 17, 2014

It just doesn't seem right not to post something at this aptly named blog in honor of A Conversation with Grace Slick taking place at The Grammy Museum tonight (Tuesday). To this very day I can recall the absolute shock I experience upon listening to the Jefferson Airplane album Surrealistic Pillow for the first time on my 17th birthday (8/19/67). It was the first album I ever heard where every single song was great.

In January 1967, I'd been listening to "My Best Friend" on the radio, which was the first single from that album and loved the song, though I didn't realize that there was a female voice in the mix (all radio was monaural in those days, so it was hard to tell), until "Somebody To Love was released in April and I became curious who this powerful voice belonged to.  It was the release of "White Rabbit" in late June (Summer of Love) '67 that clinched it for me.

We had studied Ravel's Bolero in music appreciation in school (yes, we had such classes back then, before Reagan and the republicans had gutted public education) and I loved the progressive layering upon layering of the piece.Tied in with my love of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and the potent and specific references to that text by Slick in her lyrics, along with the invitation to a different lifestyle, and I was the ideal target for the song.

Over the course of their career, Jefferson Airplane repeatedly pushed the boundaries of rock and roll and I happily went along for the ride. Each subsequent album stretched and pulled and pushed my musical tastes into areas I would never have considered and it was always thrilling to hear where Grace would take her voice on each new record. They also became more political as I became more political and seeing them in concert was always an adventure.

Now, these many years later, I still appreciate what they did for me and I have felt that influence to this very day. Grace Slick continued to be a force in rock and roll till she retired her voice in the mid 1990s. Channeling her talent to a paint brush, she began to be a serious visual artist, penned her autobiography and pulled back from a public life. Tonight's conversation will cover both her music career and her painting endeavors, accompanied by an exhibit of her art. For me, it will be as thrilling as it is emotional.


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