Feeding My Head

And the ones that your mother gives you

Don’t do anything at all

(White Rabbit)

Since last night I have the voice of Grace Slick (Jefferson Airplane) wailing around in my head. And that magnificent, dark, Spanish intro to White Rabbit. Being the info junkie that I am, I Wikipedia’d myself all over the place to find out more, and now my head is boiling over with information and random thoughts.

On January 19th, 1936, my mother was born. On September 30th, 1939, Grace Slick (then Grace Wing – she had a hippie name before anyone ever heard of Haight / Ashbury) was born. On August 17th, 1969, Grace sang White Rabbit to an audience of at least 300,000 people at Woodstock. On August 18th, 1969, I was born – time zone differences taken into account it must’ve been while Johnny Winter was playing at Woodstock. (Just my luck – I really don’t like white blues.)

Somehow last night it struck me. Grace Slick wasn’t that much younger than my mother and yet, while my mother was expecting her third and last kid and was trying to be a good housewife, Slick sang these mildly depreciating lines about the ones that your mother gives you in a song which combines a fairytale with an LSD trip.

I never even told my mother I used to smoke marijuana. It’s pointless, she wouldn’t understand and it would just give her more unreasonable fears to struggle with.

Since last night my head is trying to make sense of this enormous difference. The music my mother and father danced to when they first met, and the music Slick was making some ten years later. And I can’t make heads or tails of it – I can’t get past the rather downtrodden path that ‘something big’ happened in those fabled Sixties.

Oh well.



  1. This is the type of topic that rings a bell, or perhaps more appropriate, a vibraphone. I grew up in the second half of the forties with Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey, soon to be followed by Elvis Presley and Bill Haley. My parents were in no mood to even try to understand and forbade playing the music, even more so when I switched to Charlie Parker, The Jazz Messengers and The Modern Jazz Quartet, not to mention Miles Davis. As of 1965, when I myself had growing kids, together we went into pop music again, and as pop music didn’t change essentially (to my mind at least) the last fourty years, I got the chance to stay level with my kids. Johnny Winter is still one of my favourites, by the way, though my kids frown a bit on him. As they do on A Whole Lotta Love. Well, not everything Rage Against the Machine does can carry me away, to be honest, but then again, keep in mind that I am nearing seventy. When my dad was seventy, he was hopelessly stuck to popular opera aria’s from fourty years earlier. Uhm, fourty years, isn’t that how long Johnny Winter goes back?

  2. Sante, you’re just the man I need for this piece. You’re on the other end of that invisible line. One one side there’s my mother – the traditional non-working housewife, rather old-fashioned, and on the other side there are people just a few years younger than her, and they are completely different. Granted, Grace Slick is an extreme example, but you’re not that extreme.
    As the youngest son of a couple who married in 1960 I have always seen this difference between my parents and the parents of my friends, also in the way we were brought up.

    By the way, get yourself some Mingus if you still enjoy jazz. Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus (I can’t help it – that’s the title) is a good one to get you started…

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