3918. “Somebody to Love” by Jefferson Airplane

60’s-tastic TV performance:

Hey! I know when I downloaded this song! July 2, 2011 when Memo wrote his entry on this song. He did all the heavy lifting on this song already so I’m going to direct you right to his entry for lyrics and other pertinent information.

Instead, here you will hear my theory about how the development of Jefferson Airplane into Starship (and back) perfectly reflected how the hippie generation changed from 1967 to the mid-80’s. See, Jefferson Airplane may have had some hits, but their writer-of-love-songs, Marty Balin, was always pushed off to the side in favor of the members of the group who wanted to explore songs with more meaning.

In the 1970’s, the band eventually developed into Jefferson Starship and had their greatest success (arena rock level success) recording quirky love songs, typically written by Marty Balin. They at first leaned a little bit prog rock but as Balin’s songs became huge hits, they leaned much more towards the sort of rock songs that Boston or Journey might record. Balin eventually bailed.

Then as we entered the 80’s, Paul Kanter (long time member who at first eagerly went along with their gradual conversion to a standard, unremarkable AOR unit shifter) decided he’d lost control of the band and left. The band fully embraced their crap-rock status, changed their name to Starship, released the obnoxious “We Built This City” with its cloying self-aggrandizing and fuck-you-everyone-who-ever-thought-we-were-musically-inventive keyboard line and had the biggest hit ever. Everyone involved in that song deserves a long, slow kick to the balls, but the song made them wealthy and many people love it more than anything Jefferson Airplane ever released.

To clarify, more people have heard and love “We Built This City” than have heard “Somebody To Love.” They have nobody to blame but themselves.

Perhaps realizing they sold their souls, Balin, Kanter and Grace Slick (who’d stayed with Starship and sang on “We Built This City” – think of that the next time you listen to this song and your brain will try to escape through a cocaine-by-proxy sized hole in your nose) regrouped Jefferson Airplane (and either flopped or returned triumphantly depending on your point of view). Different combinations of Jefferson Starships have been kicking around ever since on the nostalgia circuit.

Anyhow, idealism to corporatism to nostalgia for idealism (while still rolling in corporate cash) sort of sums up certain segments of the baby boomers. The various iterations of this band just illustrate that. That’s my theory.

Now I need somebody to love.


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