It was August 17th, 1969, and they played before an audience of something approaching half a million people, live in a field near the community of White Lake, NY, just off Route 17 through Monticello. Known as Woodstock (a town about 45 miles away) because that’s where it was supposed to be held, neither the last minute change of location, nor the rain that fell much of the weekend, could keep people away from what was to become the best known music festival in history. They were drawn like iron filings to a magnet and that Sunday a different kind of Airplane made a different kind of sound.
The idea for White Rabbit comes from what many might consider a children’s book, written by a fellow that hung out with wealthy families and wrote stories for, and about, their kids. But the writings of the Rev. Charles Dodgson, Anglican deacon, photographer, mathematician, and author most known for his startling works, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, as well as the poems The Hunting of the Snark and Jabberwocky are not really for children at all.
Lewis Carrol, as you may know him, was no children’s author. Though his stories often began in their telling to Lorina, Edith and Alice, children of his good friends Henry and Lorina Liddell, Dodgson was a master of word play, logic, and fantasy and his stories hold much more for the free thinking reader if he will only look. The depth of political satire, scoffing at structure and system, and acute humor at the expense of the wealthy, is beyond childs’ play.
Read often to Grace Slick in her early childhood, Alice in Wonderland became a part of her life and those early memories later enriched the lyrics she would write for White Rabbit. This earlier recording, made the year of it’s release, is Grace, and Airplane, at their best. But don’t just believe me. Go ask Alice…