Album: Quicksilver Messenger Service (1968)

Songfacts®:

  • This 12-minute acid rock song is the last track on Quicksilver Messenger Service's debut album, released in 1968 before Dino Valenti joined the band. The song was written by the band's guitarist, Gary Duncan, and bass player, David Freiberg, and features the innovative stylings of their lead guitarist, John Cipollina, who came up with a distinctive finger-picking technique heard here. Cipollina would pulling on the vibrato bar to manipulate the sound and run it through a custom amplifier he set up.
  • The vocals don't appear until about 7 minutes into the song. When they do, we hear a psychedelic lyric about the golden sun moving ever onward, spiraling high, never down. It sounds like it was written on LSD because it was. "I did write the words," David Freiberg said in a Songfacts interview. "They were in my typewriter when I came down from an LSD trip."
  • The song's lyrical conclusion is:

    Life is love
    Love is life


    This sentiment was making the rounds in 1968 by acts from all over the world (notably The Beatles), but especially in San Francisco, where the hippie movement was still going strong. Quicksilver Messenger Service was a big part of this scene along with the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and a band David Freiberg would later join: Jefferson Airplane.
  • Because it's 12-minutes long, this song is often referred to as a jam, but it was not improvised. "It might sound like a jam, but, for the most part, all the parts were played pretty much the same every time," Freiberg told Songfacts. "It was really a composition."
  • This was a concert favorite for Quicksilver Messenger Service, which built a reputation as a phenomenal live band. One memorable performance can be heard on their album Live At the Fillmore June 7, 1968, recorded the day after Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated.

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