Rewind: Jefferson Airplane Perform “White Rabbit” at Woodstock ’69
Grace Slick turns a children’s story into a trip of her own
At 8 am the third day of Woodstock after The Who, Jefferson Airplane took to the stage.
Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s, Alice In Wonderland, Slick saw a lot of drug references in Lewis’ book… the “smoking caterpillar, pills, the mushroom, and lots of other trippy images“. She felt she noticed a lot of children stories referencing mind altering substances at the time and decided it was time to write a song about it.
Slick wrote and performed this when she was in a band called The Great Society. She brought it with her, along with “Somebody To Love,” when she joined Jefferson Airplane in 1966. A few other fun facts…
- On an original recording by The Great Society, the song is barely recognizable due to Grace’s higher voice before several throat operations to remove nodes that lowered her vocal range.
- This is used in the stage production The Blue Man Group, and appears on their 2003 album The Complex
This was one of the defining songs of the 1967 “Summer Of Love.” As young Americans protested the Vietnam War and experimented with drugs, “White Rabbit” often played in the background.
Relive Woodstock with me! Ladies and gents, Jefferson Airplane…
+White Rabbit lyrics below+
One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you, don’t do anything at all
Go ask Alice, when she’s ten feet tall
And if you go chasing rabbits, and you know you’re going to fall
Tell ’em a hookah-smoking caterpillar has given you the call
And call Alice, when she was just small
When the men on the chessboard get up and tell you where to go
And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom, and your mind is moving low
Go ask Alice, I think she’ll know
When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead
And the white knight is talking backwards
And the red queen’s off with her head
Remember what the dormouse said
Feed your head, feed your head