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Up On The Roof
July 30, 2009 11:31 AM   Subscribe

Hello, New York! New York, wake up you f*ckers! Free Music! Free Love! In 1968, two years before those other guys, Jefferson Airplane played their apocalyptic psychedelia from a NYC rooftop, before police shut them down. Filmed (staged?) by Jean-Luc Godard.

The song is "The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil" from "After Bathing at Baxter's" (1967). Amazingly, this was their single which reached #42 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #24 on the Cash Box Top 100.

Filmed for Godard's project "One A.M." aka "One American Movie", which was abandoned and completed four years later by D.A. Pennebaker -- with additional "making of" footage -- as "One P.M." aka "One Parallel Movie." IMDB

The film is a fascinating, exasperating mess, featuring Tom Hayden, Eldridge Cleaver (just before he fled the country), Amiri Baraka, Rip Torn, Carol Bellamy, LeRoi Jones and Godard himself. An "American Indian" picks up a tape recorder and spouts/mimics the radical speech on it, etc. The NYT reviewer wrote at the time: "I don't know why "One A.M." was abandoned. There has been talk of Godard's failure to understand the nature of the movement in America. But after looking at the quality of the film work in "One P.M." it seems to me that the reason could quite properly have been despair."

One P.M. -- Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6 - Part 7 - Part 8 - Part 9 - Part 10
posted by msalt (37 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
what an interesting story.
posted by shmegegge at 11:36 AM on July 30, 2009


Correction -- the song they play is actually "The House at Pooneil Corners" from their fourth album "Crown of Creation" (1968). It was never any kind of single. The Ballad is a bit more commercial; in fact, this one is sort of a parody of their own song. Here are the lyrics: Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil, vs. House at Pooneil Corners.

"Everything someday will be gone except silence
Earth will be quiet again
Seas from clouds will wash off the ashes of violence
Left as the memory of men
There will be no survivor my friend."
posted by msalt at 11:46 AM on July 30, 2009


We built this city.
posted by pianomover at 11:48 AM on July 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Amiri Baraka and Leroi Jones are the same person.
posted by mareli at 12:02 PM on July 30, 2009


I can't believe that anyone involved in the first clip could have been involved in pianomover's clip. WTF Grace?
posted by Mister_A at 12:04 PM on July 30, 2009


It's weird, but unlike the Beatles' rooftop appearance I can't get behind this. It seems to exemplify the worst of the self-indulgent, baby-boomers theme of "aren't we special, we can make music that the grownups hate, and we've been up all night, unlike the squares." I'm really glad I was an insignificant kid during this era, and not an adult, because this irritating sense of entitlement, lent power by demographics, on the part of teenagers, would have driven me to apoplexy.

Ok, I think that's the final installation of my I hate the baby boomers trilogy.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 12:08 PM on July 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cool post! Can't deny Godard or Pennebaker no matter how objectionable the topic. So, thanks!

...and with that said, engage RANT:

Grace Slick was a selfish and stuck-up heiress playing at rock rebellion. Her black soul was finally fully revealed during the Starship years.

Her and her band epitomize the failings of the love generation. All peace, love, and greed. We're still living with the fallout.

While I'd admit they had some musical high-points, I can't listen to their stuff without being sort of disgusted... it was, after all, total bullshit.

Anyway, blah blah blah yr favorite band blah...
posted by MeatLightning at 12:13 PM on July 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


We built this city.

Simply unforgivable.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:14 PM on July 30, 2009


This is your brain.
This is your brain on drugs.

Seriously, though, this is awesome stuff. Thanks for the post!
posted by equalpants at 12:26 PM on July 30, 2009


NYPD, don't you want somebody to club?
posted by Flashman at 12:39 PM on July 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Still way cool in my opinion. Love the way everyone peeks out of the windows or down at the street, squinting their eyes up.

It's much better to live in a world where stuff like this goes down than one where it doesn't. And I'm as sick of boomer bullshit as anyone.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 12:47 PM on July 30, 2009


Grace Slick was a selfish and stuck-up heiress playing at rock rebellion.
Jefferson Airplane was a pretty great band before she arrived, with Signe Anderson singing (until she retired in October 1966 after having a baby.) For example:

Blues From an Airplane (pretty amazing)
Let Me In
Bringing Me Down
Runnin' Round This World
"It's No Secret"
Don't Slip Away
Chauffeur Blues Signe Anderson lead
High Flyin' Bird dual leads
Come Up The Years
Tobacco Road
posted by msalt at 12:53 PM on July 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


We had giants back then. Not like....
posted by Postroad at 12:56 PM on July 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I love Jefferson Airplane so much, man.
posted by The World Famous at 1:00 PM on July 30, 2009


No worse than sirens.
posted by nervousfritz at 1:36 PM on July 30, 2009


Grace brought the Airplane their (I'm assuming) two biggest hits, Somebody to Love and White Rabbit from her old band The Great Society.

I kinda dig that version of White Rabbit. Is that a fuggin' clarinet jam?
posted by battleshipkropotkin at 1:36 PM on July 30, 2009


I don't like Jefferson Airplane. I love Moby Grape. I'm mostly indifferent to the Dead.
posted by anazgnos at 1:37 PM on July 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Jefferson Airplane were the 1989-91 Portland Trailblazers of the rock scene -- they had incredible talent, great group chemistry, and excelled at improvisation, but somehow they never put all the pieces together and fell just short of their potential.

IMHO. But they did beat Michael Jordan's Bulls in Chicago in game 2 of the finals.
posted by msalt at 2:49 PM on July 30, 2009


The Jefferson Airplane were the 1989-91 Portland Trailblazers of the rock scene

Except Clyde Drexler never had sex with everybody in the band...
posted by jonp72 at 3:43 PM on July 30, 2009


True. But Jack Casady was great on the fast break.
posted by msalt at 3:45 PM on July 30, 2009


Gah, the lower the volume the better it gets. Why do I always hear "Tell 'em a hookah smoking coloratura"? It's just me, right?
posted by shoesfullofdust at 5:37 PM on July 30, 2009


Grace Slick was a selfish and stuck-up heiress playing at rock rebellion...

...who came *this* close to dosing Nixon with LSD at a White House tea party:

Okay, tell me about trying to slip Richard Nixon acid at the White House.
See, Trish Nixon’s daughter went to Finch College, and it was so small that she invited all of the alumni to a tea at the White House. But my name when I went there was Grace Wing, that doesn’t mean anything right? Now, Grace Slick meant something. So I get an invitation to the White House and I call up Abbie Hoffman and say [Sing-songy] “Guess what I have….I’ve got an invitation to the White House.” So I put 600 mics of acid under a long fingernail I had for cocaine, and we go and we’re standing in line, and the security guard comes up to me and says, “I’m sorry you can’t go in. You’re a security risk.” And I go, “What?!” And he says, “You’re on the FBI list.” And I go, “What?!?!” And I found out that the members of Jefferson Airplane were on a list because of “suspect lyrics.” They didn’t know why I was a security threat, but they were right.

See, I learned all about formal teas at Finch College. You have two urns at either end of a long table and you stand—you don’t sit—and since I’m an entertainer, I gesture a lot, and I was gonna gesture across Nixon’s tea and in about a half an hour, he would’ve been out of his mind and nobody would’ve known why. But it didn’t matter because he was so goofy and made mistakes and got his own ass out of the White House. It amazed me that they didn’t say anything to Abbie.

posted by mediareport at 6:25 PM on July 30, 2009


Did I ever tell you guys about the time I *almost* dosed Reagan with PCP? It *almost* happened, man. I swear.
posted by item at 6:29 PM on July 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yet another example of the Beatles doing something new after it had already been done by someone else.
posted by interrobang at 8:16 PM on July 30, 2009


Yet another example of the Beatles doing something new after it had already been done by someone else.

Come on! At least the Magical Mystery Tour was totally original, and not a rip-off of something a bunch of people in San Francisco had already done with Neal Cassady driving the bus and everything. Oh, wait.
posted by The World Famous at 8:19 PM on July 30, 2009


No 'Be Sharps' referential humor yet?

C'mon... I stayed up all night dying my underwear...
posted by rodeoclown at 9:21 PM on July 30, 2009


"You are the Crown of Creation...and you got no place to go..."

What the fuck, Grace. Where did you go?
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:30 PM on July 30, 2009


any band with jack and jorma in it has something going for it - the ballad of you and me and poohneil live 1970
posted by pyramid termite at 10:52 PM on July 30, 2009


Needs more mamba.
posted by bardic at 2:23 AM on July 31, 2009


See? See how THE MAN is trying to shut down our music, maaan? Cosmic bummer...

I have a soft spot for "White Rabbit", "Somebody to Love" and a couple other JS songs, but I tell ya, one guy I really can't stomach is Marty Balin. If I'da been a Hell's angel at Altamont, I'da taken a swing at him too...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:39 AM on July 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm going to go all Iconoclastic on this thread and state for the record my personal opinion that the best thing the Jefferson Airplane ever did was shut up long enough to let Jorma record Embryonic Journey.

That said, Paul Kantner did write some pretty good songs, and he may have believed some of his revolutionary lyrics, and had a shred of personal ethics. The reason the group that recorded "We Built This City" was called simply "Starship" was because Kantner caused them to stop using the word Jefferson, as that band had no real relation to the original Jefferson Airplane, and only tangential continuity with Jefferson Starship, which was a pretty lame incarnation as well.

Marty Balin has always written tripe, and Grace Slick always seemed to be along for the ride to fame, doing whatever was in vogue at the time to further this aim.

Oh, and they "defined" the psychedelic mix by bathing Surrealistic Pillow in absolutely ridiculous amounts of chamber reverb, which has always driven me nuts, even if it was a real chamber. Many records have been ruined since, trying to emulate this sound because the album was a hit. Gah.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:41 AM on July 31, 2009


I recently came across the original Quad mix of The Worst Of Jefferson Airplane album.

It's a bit shocking to hear all these songs which I basically memorized decades ago suddenly in a whole new way. Apparently they even used different takes of some of the songs for the Quad mix.

I really really need to find the Quad mix of Volunteers. It's out there, someplace.
posted by hippybear at 6:50 AM on July 31, 2009


> Her and her band epitomize the failings of the love generation. All peace, love, and greed.
> We're still living with the fallout.
>
> While I'd admit they had some musical high-points, I can't listen to their stuff without
> being sort of disgusted... it was, after all, total bullshit.

And this is, what, disillusioning or something? And looking to a bunch of rock musicians, for Ghod's sake, for political and moral leadership couldn't have had a thing to do with the set-up for the pratfall, could it? Next time we feel that ungovernable need for a moving target to follow, we should pick entertainers with integrity. Hip-hop artists. Star footballers. Cute ex-Mouseketeers.
posted by jfuller at 8:10 AM on July 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


The idea that some of the current leaders of our country once based their worldview on the idea that a bunch of rock bands from San Francisco were leading the way to a permanent and beneficial overal change in society is more than a little disconcerting. I'm not sure it's disillusioning.

That said, the recent U.S. President who idolized musicians and was associated with the rock star-led cultural movements of the 60s and early 70s was a lot less of a disaster as a leader than the more recent U.S. President whose party loudly mocked its opponents for having ever espoused those views.

I'm fairly happy that it appears that the age of worrying about whether the President thinks rock stars can provide more meaningful policy input than others is over. Obama appears to mostly like music for its entertainment value - but maybe that's because, whereas Clinton associated with and hung out with rock stars, Obama actually is one.
posted by The World Famous at 8:33 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


> We built this city.
>
> Simply unforgivable.

It's a cringe-inducing disaster of a video but an absolutely rockin' power-bubblegum song that was deservedly a #1 hit. If Gracie weren't there it would be easier to think of Starship as what it was, a bunch of basically anonymous second- and third-rank rockers who had the good sense or good luck to cover somebody who could write hits, namely Bernie Taupin.
posted by jfuller at 9:39 AM on July 31, 2009


A few good Airplane songs you might not know:

If You Feel, catchy song, slight but always makes me smile
In Time, strong mellow song
The Farm, silly fun country song, should be covered...
Good Shepherd, excellent version of traditional song
Plastic Fantastic Lover, tight rockin' version of too-spacey orginal. Balin haters, check this out.

She Has Funny Cars, intriguing early song
Volunteers, would be revolutionary anthem is still a fun rocker
Hey Frederick skip the song, start at 3:00 for great 6 minute jam with Nicky Hopkins (Rolling Stones, etc.)
Ballad of You and Me and PooNeil that unlikely single -- Pyramid Termite's live cut is great but only the end of it
Greasy Heart fun-bitchy lyrics like 'your face will hit the fan' + that great rhythm section starts slow and picks up steam throughout song
Wild Tyme, rocker w those intertwining vocals (X anybody?)
posted by msalt at 11:54 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've always been partial to this one.

And this one's nice, too.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:21 PM on July 31, 2009


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