Somebody To Love

Album: Surrealistic Pillow (1967)
Charted: 5
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  • 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."
  • Jefferson Airplane performed this at Woodstock in 1969. One of the most popular bands on the bill, they got the headlining slot on Day 2, but ended up taking the stage at 8 a.m. the following morning, going on after The Who.
  • 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.

Comments: 39

  • Marko from Marin County (home Of Gracie)Whatever this song purports to be about, it's the first two lines that grab you and don't let go. Who hasn't had the experience of seeming truth being found to be lies, and the sad consequences of that? Social, political, or interpersonal, whether it's love or war or the two colliding, that is the universal human experience that ties this song together. We don't really care whether it's red or bread their mind is full of because we all sure know that feeling that all our garden flowers are now dead. We bring our experiences to that song and it expresses them for us. That's why after about the second verse it isn't so important exactly what Darby is referring to because he was referring to what we all have experienced.
  • Pararto from Ngudooroo, AustraliaI've loved this song in most of its versions, but especially as released on Surrealistic Pillow by the 'plane and which I first heard in 1967. The comments here and many of the lyrics how available on the internet are hilarious, one might even say "surreal" My original interpretation, and I suspect authentic interpretation of:
    "When the garden flowers, you’re dead, yes and
    Your mind, your mind is so full of bread
    Don't you want somebody to love"
    Is the traditional hippy complaint: You don't see nature in the garden. You are dead (to the real world). You are too busy thinking about money (bread), and by inference, perhaps if you weren't't you might notice me too! so the question and punch line; Don't you want somebody to love? [The question mark is nearly always missing on internet lyric pages.
    HOWEVER this is the really surreal bit: If you change BREAD to RED the meaning changes completely. It could be Panama Red or any other South American form of marijuana. It could be home grown in the garden! We can start to envisage psychosis and dissociative behaviour. Wikipedia citing this site suggests that Darby Slick was concerned for the dissociative impact of drug use. It gets complicated. I think my original interpretation is likely to be the correct one. As time went on Grace Slick and Paul Kantner appeared to play with the lyrics during live performance, and this is very noticable on the Woodstock footage. So the song probably got wilder and wilder. Perhaps this can be cleared up by the writer. Darby Slick's autobiography, Don't You Want Somebody to Love, was published in 1991 before the Chinese whispers began.
  • Sam Williams from Sherman OaksMy take on this song is that my best educated guess is that very few American guys in the mid to late 60’s we’re interested in long term romantic relationships and monogamy because of the Vietnam War that was raging at that time. There seemed to be no point in doing that knowing that at the time their relationship or marriage could end because of them possibly being drafted and them going to war and then being separated from their wives or girlfriends not knowing if they would be reunited or not. So most guys were mainly just having Casual sex with multiple girls knowing that once and if they get drafted, coming home alive and well from the war was not guaranteed for them, so there wasn’t any point in getting married and starting a family. But when multiple guys started to do that, they were slowly just starting to figure out the consequences of having multiple sex partners (I mean it wasn’t just jealousy amongst their sexual partners but also potentially catching STDs and STIs from the multiple girls they were having sex with) so this song was written to ultimately try to discourage guys from sleeping with multiple girls and encourage them to stick with long term monogamy/romantic relationships (aka just one girl vs multiple girls) even though at the time, those kind of relationships were really difficult/almost impossible to maintain because of the war that was going on at that time.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn 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.
  • Mike from Youngstown, OhWell, 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 from Youngstown, OhFreddie 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."
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyPer: 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 from Sauquoit, NyOn 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 from Sauquoit, NyOn 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}.
  • Harry from Sunnyvale, CaI 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.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn 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).
  • Brandon from Seattle, WaJanis 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.
  • Marlene from Montreal, QcApparently Grace didn't think she had a great voice. She said, "All I can do is yell high." (Quoted in a documentary)
  • Belinda from Cresskill New Jresey, NjI 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.
  • Dean from Sydney, AustraliaAs 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.
  • Linc from Beaumont, TxThis was the theme song on the TV mini-series The 60s starring a young Julia Stiles.
  • Linc from Beaumont, TxJanis 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 from Beaumont, TxThis was the theme song on the TV mini-series The 60s starring a young Julia Stiles.
  • Adam from Portland, OrDarby 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.
  • Steve Dotstar from Los Angeles, CaMarvelous job by Slick on vocals along the the Airplane...great stuff!
  • Maggie from Philadelphia, PaLove this song! Grace Slick is awesome!
  • Mark B. Stoned from Desperate Hot Springs, CaMusicMama, 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.
  • Chuck from La, Caeverything 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.
  • Charles from Glenside, PaLOL, it was indeed a far plunge MusicMama.
  • Musicmama from New York, NyOne 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?"
  • Fred from Laurel, MdThis 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??
  • Michael from Carlsbad, NmThis 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.
  • Justin from Albany, NyGrace 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...
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScI didn't know Janis sang this one.
  • Deserea from Swain, NyEverybody 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.
  • Rick from San Juan, United StatesOriginally released in 1966 on the Northbeach label as "Someone To Love" by "The Great !! Society !!", with a slower tempo "garage" arrangement.
  • Scott from Nyc, NyDoes anyone know how the band got the trippy sound guitar at the end?
  • Ross from Independence, MoThis is #274 on Rolling Stone's list of 500 greatest songs.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScGrace Slick does some of her best vocals, if not her best, in this song!
  • Martijn from Helmond, Netherlands
    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.)
  • Abby from Columbus, OhThis 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.
  • Annabeth from Kutztown, PaJefferson 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."
  • Shana from Pembroke, CanadaI love this song, Grace's voice does sound really wicked in this song...just awesome
  • Kieran from Harlow, United StatesIs it true that Janis Joplin did a cover of this. It is really annoying me!
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