Wednesday, January 4, 2017

In memoriam: Paul Kantner

purchase [Jefferson Airplane Volunteers]

By about the time that <Blows Against the Empire> came out, I had moved on. That said, I had a copy of <Takes Off> and <Volunteers> more or less as soon as they came out. Certainly, their Woodstock performance was critical to my appreciation of Jefferson Airplane. The view they espoused or symbolized was equally formative to my perception of music and the world in general. But somehow, about the time of the switch to Starship in place of Airplane, they lost me. Might have been my developing musical tastes, the offer of so much more in that realm than what they were into. But it never took away from my sense and recognition that they were seminal.

When I think Airplane, I call up Kantner, Slick, Balin, Casady, Kaukonen. I likewise call up Hot Tuna.
I cant say that Paul Kantner stood out for me - except that he was in it all along. Co-founder. It's not like I studied his guitar chops or anything. But that is from a perspective somewhat not too focused on who's who - I just knew that he was critical to the band.

There was certainly something unusual about the band at the time of <Takes Off>. Partly it was their sound - kind of raw but still harmonic. Partly it was the message they seemed to represent (singing "Our generation's got soul" - in whatever connotations you wish to ascribe - and the message/vision became even better defined with <Volunteers/We Can Be Together> ...  "we are all outlaws in the eyes of America ... to find a better time .. Up against the wall mother fu**er .. tear down the wall". Woah . Hold on a minute (shades of Nixon or someone else), . Part of the West Coast/SF scene but more driven than the Dead in their sound and their message. Friends... we are talking 1969 - that's almost 50 years ago... and look where we are now.

Maybe even more poignant and serendipitous in a sad way: the fact that Signe Anderson (the voice on <Takes Off>) happened to die on exactly the same day that Paul Kantner did. Anniversary coming up in a week or so: Jan 28.


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