Written by Jefferson Airplane guitarist Paul Kantner and vocalist Marty Balin, this song is a call to take a stand against the US government and the war in Vietnam. In a 1993 interview with Relix, Balin explained: "It became political but it didn't start out that way. I had woken up to the sound of garbage cans crashing outside the mansion and looked out, and there was this Volunteers of America truck, so I wrote that down and gave it to Paul and he wrote the song. Bang. People put all kinds of meaning into it."
The B-side was "We can be Together," which is the track that kicks off the album.
Volunteers was the last album the band recorded before massive personnel changes altered their original sound, which was psychedelic rock.
A big part of the San Francisco protest scene in the '60s, Jefferson Airplane played a spirited version at Woodstock six months before the song came out. This performance is included on the original soundtrack and in the movie.
This was released as a single, but never charted. The album, though, was a relative success for the group, peaking at #38 in the UK (their highest-charting album there until 1972's Long John Silver) and reaching #13 in the US.
This appears on the Forrest Gump soundtrack. Tom Hanks was in a movie called Volunteers, but this song was not part of it.
When the Disney company sends their employees to do public service, they call them "Volunt-Ears."
Tommy Hilfiger used this in a commercial television advertisement campaign in the US market.
Bertrand - Paris, France