Friday, February 5, 2016

Paul Kantner

I missed the "Love Generation".

I was only twelve years old in 1967, and I was pretty enamored with "She'd Rather Be With Me" by the Turtles and "The Letter" by the Box Tops.

Sure, I saw the whole Haight-Ashbury thing unfolding on TV, but I didn't get it and didn't really want to. It just didn't seem like music to me. Music (to my childish ears) was supposed to have a melody and at a minimum, rudimentary lyrics that made a modicum of sense. The sixties were...odd. Big, orange flowers were a "thing", and paisley non-matching pants and fur vests and absurdly-long false eyelashes were groovy. Guys on acid, I'm sure, found the lyrics of bands like Jefferson Airplane profound; mind-expanding. In reality, in the cold grey of morning, they were inane. Not that it mattered.

In the long spanse of decades, though, I "sort of" gained an appreciation for the band. Grace Slick is a phenomenal singer. Imagine if she'd had good material to work with!

And Paul Kantner was a co-founding member of the group.

The New York Times wrote:

Mr. Kantner came to be seen as the intellectual spokesman for the group, with an ideology, reflected in his songs, that combined anarchic politics, an enthusiasm for mind-expansion through LSD and science-fiction utopianism. (Source)

Let's relive those days:

In a lot of online polls, a song by the then "Jefferson Starship" is considered the worst rock song of all time. Funny, because that's the time that I actually got on board with the band. Sure, the song is cheesy, but it's not, at least, and endless jam, a la the Grateful Dead.

That song is thus:

On a side note, watching this video with the sound off is hilarious. But it was the eighties, after all. We accepted lot of stuff that, in hindsight, was sadly, cheesy.

I realized, as I was tripping down memory lane tonight, that I am the wrong person to commemorate Paul Kantner. I sure didn't mean this post to be disrespectful. He was a musician and a songwriter. Just because I was not the target audience of Jefferson Airplane doesn't negate the group's importance in the pantheon of rock and roll. It's not them; it's me.

I didn't get it.

But I'm trying to.


Why didn't I write anything about David Bowie? Because I can't fake it. I understand he was a legend and that people on all points of the earth are mourning his passing. I acknowledge that. I feel for their grief.  But he was not a part of my musical world. I frankly only have a hazy picture in my mind of who the man was. In the seventies, my musical tastes were cloistered. I refused to even listen to the Eagles, for God's sake, because they weren't "country". I was wrong about a lot of things in the seventies, but I was young and cocksure in my beliefs. I'm sorry I missed that chunk of pop history.  I probably would have liked it if I'd given it a glance.

Sometimes we like to go back. Sometimes we wish we could. Life is full of "sometimes".

No comments: