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Somebody To Love by Jefferson Airplane

Album: Surrealistic PillowReleased: 1967Charted:
5
  • This was written by Grace Slick's brother-in-law, Darby Slick, in 1965. They were in a San Francisco band called The Great Society, which also included Jerry Slick, who was Grace's husband and Darby's brother (Jerry played drums; Darby played guitar). The Great Society released the song as a single in late 1965 with another Darby Slick composition, "Free Advice," on the B-side.

    The single went nowhere, and when Darby started exploring Indian music in 1966, the group broke up and Grace joined Jefferson Airplane, which was already established. When she arrived at her new group, she came bearing hits: they recorded a new version of "Somebody To Love" and also did "White Rabbit," which she wrote as a member of The Great Society.

    With royalties he earned from writing "Somebody To Love," Darby Slick spent years learning Indian music.
  • San Francisco in the mid-'60s was the epicenter of free love, but Darby Slick saw a downside to this ethos, as it could lead to jealousy and disconnect. This song champions loyalty and monogamy, as the singer implores us to find that one true love that will nurture us and get us through the tough times.
  • Jefferson Airplane's first hit song, "Somebody To Love" was also one of the first big hits to come out of the US West Coast counterculture scene. Over the next few years, musicians flocked to the San Francisco Bay area to be part of this scene.
  • The original version of this song that Grace Slick sang with The Great Society is more subdued. With Jefferson Airplane she sounds far more accusatory and menacing when she belts out lines like "Your mind is so full of red" and "Your friends, baby, they treat you like a guest."
  • Queen had a hit with a song of the same title in 1977.
  • Jim Carrey did a comedic version in his movie The Cable Guy. It was released as a single, but flopped.
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Comments: 36

On April 12th, 1967 the Greyhound Bus Co. begins offering tours of the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, they were billed as 'The Hippyland' tours...
At the time Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody To Love" was at #68 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; a little over eight weeks later on June 11th, 1967 it would peak at #5 {for 1 week} and it spent fifteen weeks on the Top 100.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
Well, it's also charming to see that the lyrics are wrong. I can't blame anyone quite as much for this, because once lyrics are wrong in one place on the internet, they're wrong ten thousand times over everywhere else.

The correct line is "Tears are running down your dress." I agree that "breast" would make a better rhyme with the corresponding word in the next line, "guest." But nevertheless, the lyric is "dress." This can be proven by viewing Darby Slick's original handwritten lyrics to "Somebody to Love," which reside in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Grace can also clearly be heard singing "dress" in the original version of "Somebody to Love" by The Great Society. In that version, the verse with this passage appears early in the song. The very last verse has the line, also very clearly heard, "...and your mind is so full of bread." Again, this is a case where the word "dread" might have made more sense, but "bread" it is. It makes at least as much sense as "your mind is so full of red," which is seen here and nearly everywhere else on the internet. "Your mind is full of red...." What the hell does that mean?
Mike - Youngstown, Oh
Freddie Mercury wrote Queen's "Somebody to Love." Darby Slick, Grace's brother-in-law, wrote this one while both (as well as Grace's then-husband Jerry Slick) were members of The Great Society.

Janis Joplin NEVER recorded "Somebody to Love." How on earth does an idea like that ever get started? Nor do she and Grace have "similar" voices. Both sang loud, but that's where the comparison ends, and anyone who thinks otherwise needs a new pair of ears and should refrain from commenting.

Jefferson Airplane's last album was entitled "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas"? Huh??? This song appeared in the movie of that name (but did not appear on the film's soundtrack album). The final studio album released under the name Jefferson Airplane during the life of the band was "Long John Silver." A late-era live album also appeared under the title "30 Seconds Over Winterland." That's it...unless you count the reunion album in the late 1980s, which was simply titled "Jefferson Airplane."

Back to Queen...their song was "You're My Best Friend." Jefferson Airplane's song, written by their ex-drummer Skip Spence (who would go on to play guitar in Moby Grape), was entitled "My Best Friend."
Mike - Youngstown, Oh
Per: http://www.oldiesmusic.com/news.htm 01-29-2016
Paul Kantner, founder, vocalist and rhythm guitarist with Jefferson Airplane/Starship and its successor, the KBC Band, died Thursday (January 28th, 2016) after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week of multiple organ failure and septic shock, the San Francisco native was 74...
The Airplane formed when Paul and Marty Balin met at a San Francisco nightclub and decided to form a folk/rock group. With the addition of guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, drummer Skip Spence (soon replaced by Spencer Dryden) and bass player Jack Casady, they came to the attention of Bill Graham, who managed and promoted the group in his Fillmore club. It was upon the replacement of original lead singer Signe Anderson with Grace Slick that the group took off, charting with "Somebody To Love" (#5-1967") and "White Rabbit" (#8-1967), both of which Grace had written and performed with her previous group, the Great Society. Jefferson Airplane's performances at the Monterey Pop Festival, the infamous Altamont Raceway Festival and at Woodstock solidified their reputation as rock superstars. From 1969 to 1975, Paul and Grace were in a relationship, which resulted in the birth of their daughter China (nee "god"). In 1974, the name of their group was changed to Jefferson Starship and hits continued, like "Miracles" (#3-1975), "Count On Me" (#8-1976) and "Jane" (#14-1980). Paul suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in 1980, but made a full recovery. The group however, split in 1985, with Grace Slick remaining in the newly-renamed Starship, and Paul, Marty and Jack then forming the KBC Band. KBC had one chart single, "It's Not You, It's Not Me" (#89) in 1986 (while Starship went on to three #1 hits)...
The Airplane was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1996...
May he R.I.P.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
On May 16th 1967, "Somebody to Love"* by Jefferson Airplane was at #22 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart...
Exactly two years later on May 16th, 1969 bass player Jack Cassady was arrested in New Orleans for possession of marijuana, he was given a 2½ year suspended sentence...
Then one year later on May 16th, 1970 co-lead singer Marty Balin was arrested for marijuana possession in Bloomington, Minnesota, he was sentenced to one year's hard labor and a $100 fine, but due to a successful appeal, he paid only the fine...
* A little under a month later on June 11th “Somebody to Love” would peak at #5 {for 1 week} and it stayed on the Top 100 for 15 weeks.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
On October 14th 1966, Grace Slick performed for the first time with Jefferson Airplane, the venue was San Francisco's Fillmore (West)...
Five months later on March 26th, 1967 "Somebody to Love" entered the Top 100 chart {See the 2nd post below}.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
I think this song lent a lot to motivate people to protest the Viet Nam war and stop it. It had a strong impact in voicing that we were being lied to by a society bent on having a meaningless war, so it was a masterful anti-war song with an emotional drive.Harry - Sunnyvale, Ca
On June 3rd 1967, the Jefferson Airplane performed "Somebody To Love" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'....
Three months earlier on March 26th it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #88; and on June 11th it peaked at #5 (for 1 week) and spent 15 weeks on the Top 100...
The week after it peaked at #5 it fell to #7 and on that very same week their next release, "White Rabbit", entered the Top 100 at position #50...
They had two more records make the Top 100 in 1967; "The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil" (peaked at #42) and "Watch Her Ride" (reached #61).
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
Janis Joplin never covered this, though she might have been a fan of it. Yes, there is a Lovin' Spoonful influence in "you're my best friend", I can hear a similarity too. Queen also had a hit with a song of the same title, but Queen had another hit, and guess what it was, "you're my best friend", a little strange, in my opinion.Brandon - Seattle, Wa
Apparently Grace didn't think she had a great voice. She said, "All I can do is yell high." (Quoted in a documentary)Marlene - Montreal, Qc
I remember the year 1967 when i was a kid listening to Somebody To Love on the radio and thinking "these musicians and the lady singing (Grace) are unbeleivable". The Airplane were like these unreal cool hippies playing and singing and just walking around the stage looking at eachother all in their own world yet all-as-one which is the fantastic paradox of the Airplane it was so cool to see them and every one in the band is super good-looking,too.Belinda - Cresskill New Jresey, Nj
As MusicMama says, how did they go from doing to "We built this city"? It's like Deborah Harry going from Atomic to French Kissing in the USA. What a slide. BTW I loved Jim Carrey's version in Cable Guy. It actually made me do a karaoke party.Dean - Sydney, Australia
This was the theme song on the TV mini-series The 60s starring a young Julia Stiles.Linc - Beaumont, Tx
Janis doesn't or didn't sings this - or maybe she did, but she didn't record it because Grace and Airplane probably would have sued her...but yeah -Janis and Grace have similar vocal ranges and Airplane and Big Brother are about as close.Linc - Beaumont, Tx
This was the theme song on the TV mini-series The 60s starring a young Julia Stiles.Linc - Beaumont, Tx
Darby Slick, Grace's brother-in-law after writing this song quit music to go to India. While there he learned it was a big hit and he was then set for life, financially speaking.Adam - Portland, Or
Marvelous job by Slick on vocals along the the Airplane...great stuff!Steve Dotstar - Los Angeles, Ca
Love this song! Grace Slick is awesome!Maggie - Philadelphia, Pa
MusicMama, the answer is quite simple: "Somebody to Love" was one of the cornerstones of 1960s rock music, while, on the other hand, "We Built This City" was a product of the '80s, which doesn't really have the reputation of being a period of excellent music.Mark B. Stoned - Desperate Hot Springs, Ca
everything about this song makes me vote this to be the national anthem for us who LOVED and still LOVE the sixties. this song has the power,energy and magic of the days we lived as wild youth...and nothing can hold a candle to those wonderfull years.........unreal...thx JA.Chuck - La, Ca
LOL, it was indeed a far plunge MusicMama.Charles - Glenside, Pa
One thing I just love about this song is that it has a "trippy" quality, especially with the guitar at the end, yet it has a brisk pace to it. In other words, you don't have to be stoned to enjoy this one, although being stoned doesn't hurt. And it's a fine piece of songwriting: There are some standout lines (like "your freinds, baby, they treat you like a guest that, rather than being a distraction, actually work with the rest of the song to build its emotional impact.




Now tell me: How did they go from doing this to doing "We Built This City?"
Musicmama - New York, Ny
This was JA's breakout (ie, 1st big) hit, catapulting them to stardom. But several months earlier, I remember hearing a single of theirs that hooked me, 'cause it was so sweet and so different. It was 'You're My Best Friend.' I wasn't keen on detecting influences then, but thinking back, I wonder whether that song (Friend) was influenced by the Lovin' Spoonful? In my head, I can imagine LS doing that song, sounding like they completely own it. Maybe somebody out there can contribute lyrics to it here??Fred - Laurel, Md
This is the most kick-butt song this band EVER did. The line, "and your friends baby, TREAT YOU LIKE A GUEST" rings so true fourty years later.Michael - Carlsbad, Nm
Grace Slick was so talented. I love jefferson airplane and she is simply a brilliant musician. and kieran what is wrong with Janis Joplin shes a great musician also...Justin - Albany, Ny
I didn't know Janis sang this one.Stefanie - Rock Hill, Sc
Everybody seems to confuse Grace Slicks voice with Janis's. Yes Janis Joplin did a cover of this song, but it isn't nearly as popular as the original.Deserea - Swain, Ny
Originally released in 1966 on the Northbeach label as "Someone To Love" by "The Great !! Society !!", with a slower tempo "garage" arrangement.Rick - San Juan, United States
Does anyone know how the band got the trippy sound guitar at the end?
thanks
-Scott
Scott - Nyc, Ny
This is #274 on Rolling Stone's list of 500 greatest songs.Ross - Independence, Mo
Grace Slick does some of her best vocals, if not her best, in this song!Stefanie Magura - Rock Hill, Sc

Which was also the title of Jefferson Airplane's last album under that name.

The journalist's name (also writer of the book on which the movie wa based) was Hunter Thompson. He just shot himself this week (its 2-23-2005 as I write this.)
Martijn - Helmond, Netherlands
This song appears in the movie "Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas" directed by Terry Gilliam (of Monty Python and The Holy Grail). It's a movie based on the drug scene in the 70's and revolves around a journalist played by Johnny Depp. In this scene, he reflects back to his days in San Francisco and this song plays in a club he's in. He ends up in the bathroom with Acid spilled on his arm and a hippie, long-haired Flea (of The Red Hot Chili Peppers) licking it off.Abby - Columbus, Oh
Jefferson Airplane dedicated their record Surrealistic Pillow to Jerry Garcia "for creative guidance." Also, the Christian punk band Reliant K released a song named Jefferson Airplane, with the chorus reading "I guess I'll go, I guess I'll throw on some Jefferson Airplane, I am trapped and I am enclosed."Annabeth - Kutztown, Pa
I love this song, Grace's voice does sound really wicked in this song...just awesomeShana - Pembroke, Canada
Is it true that Janis Joplin did a cover of this. It is really annoying me!Kieran - Harlow, United States
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