Few things musical exemplify more perfectly the acid-drenched clarion call to sixties hedonism than the west coast sounds of Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that the greatest of these was Dead but it’s hardly less true that Jerry Garcia would’ve given two of his strumming fingers to have the band fronted by the high power vocals – and stunning looks – of Airplane’s Grace Slick.
A man close to the stage at an outdoor gig once asked Gorgeous Grace – alas I wasn’t there – if she was wearing a bra. (This at a time when feminists were thin on the ground, better known as women’s libbers and widely dismissed as bra burning middle class neurotics.) By way of reply in the negative, Grace lifted her blouse clean over her head. Always value for money, she then raised her skirt north of the waistline to show she didn’t see a lot of point to panties either.
Heady days. But Slick had talent to match that sassiness. I’ve always loved songs that slowly unwind with the ominous promise of a coiled spring. Bowie’s Rock’n Roll Suicide is a case in point, as is Ravel’s Bolero. And what right-thinking child of those times could resist that call to ditch logic and proportion … to heed Lewis Carrol (or a then fashionable interpretation of what he was really saying) and feed your head.
With psychotropics. Right now, right here at Woodstock in the days of sixty-nine.