Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!
Jefferson Airplane: Somebody To Love, Album: Surrealistic Pillow (1967)
This was written by Grace Slick’s brother-in-law, Darby Slick, in 1965. They were in a San Francisco band called The Great Society, which also included Jerry Slick, who was Grace’s husband and Darby’s brother (Jerry played drums; Darby played guitar). The Great Society released the song as a single in late 1965 with another Darby Slick composition, “Free Advice,” on the B-side.
The single went nowhere, and when Darby started exploring Indian music in 1966, the group broke up and Grace joined Jefferson Airplane, which was already established. When she arrived at her new group, she came bearing hits: they recorded a new version of “Somebody To Love” and also did “White Rabbit,” which she wrote as a member of The Great Society.
With royalties he earned from writing “Somebody To Love,” Darby Slick spent years learning Indian music.
San Francisco in the mid-’60s was the epicenter of free love, but Darby Slick saw a downside to this ethos, as it could lead to jealousy and disconnect. This song champions loyalty and monogamy, as the singer implores us to find that one true love that will nurture us and get us through the tough times.
Jefferson Airplane’s first hit song, “Somebody To Love” was also one of the first big hits to come out of the US West Coast counterculture scene. Over the next few years, musicians flocked to the San Francisco Bay area to be part of this scene.
The original version of this song that Grace Slick sang with The Great Society is more subdued. With Jefferson Airplane she sounds far more accusatory and menacing when she belts out lines like “Your mind is so full of red” and “Your friends, baby, they treat you like a guest.”
Jefferson Airplane performed this at Woodstock in 1969. One of the most popular bands on the bill, they got the headlining slot on Day 2, but ended up taking the stage at 8 a.m. the following morning, going on after The Who.