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Jefferson Airplane - White Rabbit (Ed Sullivan Show 1967)

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Retrieved from Wikipedia:
White Rabbit on Wikipedia
"White Rabbit"
Single by Jefferson Airplane
from the album Surrealistic Pillow
B-side"Plastic Fantastic Lover"
ReleasedJune 24, 1967
FormatVinyl record (7") 45 RPM
RecordedNovember 3, 1966
GenrePsychedelic rock, acid rock
LabelRCA Victor
Writer(s)Grace Slick
ProducerRick Jarrard
Jefferson Airplane singles chronology

"White Rabbit" is a psychedelic rock/acid rock song from Jefferson Airplane's 1967 album Surrealistic Pillow. It was released as a single and became the band's second top ten success, peaking at #8[1] on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was ranked #478 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time,[2] #27 on Rate Your Music's Top Singles of All Time and appears on The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.


“White Rabbit” was written by Grace Slick while she was still with The Great Society. When that band broke up in 1966, Slick was invited to join Jefferson Airplane to replace their departed female singer Signe Toly Anderson, who left the band with the birth of her child. The first album Slick recorded with Jefferson Airplane was Surrealistic Pillow, and Slick provided two songs from her previous group: her own “White Rabbit” and “Somebody to Love”, written by Darby Slick and recorded under the title "Someone to Love" by The Great Society. Both songs became breakout successes for Jefferson Airplane and have since been associated with that band.[3]

Lyrics and composition

One of Grace Slick's earliest songs, written during either late 1965 or early 1966, uses imagery found in the fantasy works of Lewis Carroll: 1865's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its 1871 sequel Through the Looking-Glass such as changing size after taking pills or drinking an unknown liquid. It is commonly thought that these are also references to the hallucinatory effects of psychedelic drugs, such as LSD and psilocybin mushrooms. Characters referenced include Alice, the hookah-smoking caterpillar, the White Knight, the Red Queen, and the Dormouse.

For Grace and others in the '60s, drugs were a part of mind-expanding and social experimentation. With its enigmatic lyrics, "White Rabbit" became one of the first songs to sneak drug references past censors on the radio. Even Marty Balin, Grace's eventual rival in the Airplane, regarded the song as a "masterpiece." In interviews, Grace has related that Alice in Wonderland was often read to her as a child and remained a vivid memory into her adult years.

Set to a rising crescendo similar to that of Ravel's famous Boléro, as used in the Miles Davis and Gil Evans album, Sketches of Spain, and a horn arrangement by Spencer Dryden,[4] the music combined with the song's lyrics strongly suggests the sensory distortions experienced with hallucinogens, and the song was later utilized in pop culture to imply or accompany just such a state.


While the Red Queen and the White Knight are both mentioned in the song, the references differ from Lewis Carroll's original text, wherein the White Knight does not talk backwards and it is the Queen of Hearts, not the Red Queen, who says "Off with her head!" However, in the movie Alice In Wonderland (1951), the Queen of Hearts is often referred to as the Red Queen.

The last lines of the song are: "Remember what the Dormouse said. Feed your head. Feed your head." They do not explicitly quote the Dormouse as is often assumed. "Remembering what the Dormouse said" probably refers to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter XI: "Who Stole the Tarts", wherein a very nervous Mad Hatter is called to testify:

" 'But what did the Dormouse say?' one of the jury asked."
" 'That I can't remember', said the Hatter."

It is, therefore, better to say that the lyrics were inspired by the book, rather than that they reference it directly.


The song was covered in the following years:

  • 1971 – by the jazz guitarist George Benson
  • 1980 – by the punk band The Last Words
  • 1980 – by the punk / gothic rock band The Damned
  • 1981 – by the post punk band The Mo-Dettes in a Peel Session
  • 1985 – by the punk band The Zarkons (Formerly known as The Alley Cats)
  • 1987 – by the heavy metal band Sanctuary
  • 1987 – by the heavy metal band Lizzy Borden
  • 1987 – by the synth-pop band Act
  • 1987 – by the Avant–garde jazz classical band Durutti Column
  • 1989 – by the hardcore punk band Slapshot
  • 1989 – by the comedy rock band The Frogs
  • 1990 – by the house music duo David Diebold and Kim Cataluna[5]
  • 1995 – by The Murmurs (MCA Records)
  • 1995 – by Mephisto Walz
  • 1996 – by the Icelandic singer-songwriter Emilíana Torrini, later used in the soundtrack for 2011 film Sucker Punch.
  • 1996 – by the Norwegian heavy metal band In the Woods... for their White Rabbit EP and later (2000) included in their Three Times Seven on a Pilgrimage album
  • 1996 – by the American Black Metal band Wind of the Black Mountains (albeit slightly altered and renamed 'Black Goat') on their Sing Thou Unholy Servants album
  • 1999 – by the Cincinnati-based Gothic/Garage Rock band Stop the Car for their final album Crash, after having featured the song regularly in their live set lists since the '80s
  • 2001 – by the industrial band Collide.[6] A remix version appears in the ending credits of the 2007 film, Resident Evil: Extinction
  • 2002 – by Sleater-Kinney at the Majestic Theater in Detroit, Michigan
  • 2002 – by Enon for Don't Know When I'll Be Back Again VVA Benefit Compilation
  • 2003 – by the performance art / experimental rock group Blue Man Group with vocals by Esthero[7]
  • 2003 – by June Tabor and the Oysterband
  • 2004 – by My Morning Jacket
  • 2005 – by Siobhan Fahey for The Best of Shakespears Sister album
  • 2006 – remixed by the psychedelic trance act Fuzzion as Little Girl on the album Black Magic.[8]
  • 2006 – by the Brechtian punk cabaret duo The Dresden Dolls at the Bonnaroo Music Festival
  • 2006 – by The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps in their show Volume 2: Through the Looking Glass
  • 2006 – by Lana Lane for Gemini album.[9]
  • 2007 – by Patti Smith on her cover album Twelve.
  • 2007 – by The Vincent Black Shadow at the Warped Tour, later recorded in the studio for the 2008 EP "Head In A Box"
  • 2007 – by Trinidad & Tobago rock band, Rango Tango.
  • 2007 – by The Crüxshadows on their Birthday EP.
  • 2008 – by The Spectacles at the Bowery Ballroom
  • 2008 – by Alternative band The Smashing Pumpkins as a tease in Heavy Metal Machine.
  • 2009 – by Russian rock-musician Nike Borzov in the soundtrack[10] for his audio-book "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" (Russian translation of Hunter S. Thompson's novel) as "Black Rabbit" and "Funky Rabbit".
  • 2010 – by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals on the Alice in Wonderland soundtrack "Almost Alice".
  • 2011 – by Disiac on the Album "Disiac".
  • 2011 – by Hunter & Mortar on the album "Fear and loathing"
  • 2011 – by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, performing live on the NPR show "Fresh Air"[11]
  • 2011 – by Emiliana Torrini on the soundtrack of the movie Sucker Punch


  • "Collie Trippz" by DJ Marky and S.P.Y
  • "Do Whatcha Gotta" by Nice & Smooth[12]
  • "Eye Examination" by Del tha Funkee Homosapien
  • "Needful Things" by Psycho Realm
  • "Minute By Minute" by Girl Talk
  • "Rabbit Hole" by Living Legends on the 2001 album, Almost Famous

Uses in other media

"White Rabbit" has been used in numerous films and television shows.[13]

  • The song is played twice on The Sopranos episode 1.7, "Down Neck" (1999): first while Tony Soprano takes his Prozac and remembers his childhood, and again over the end credits.
  • The Battlefield: Vietnam main menu song consists of the bass line of White Rabbit, with voice tracks of Lyndon B. Johnson and Hanoi Hannah.
  • The song is also used in an episode for American Dad!.
  • The song is used twice in the movie The Game (1997), once when Nicholas Van Orten (Michael Douglas) comes home to find his home vandalized with graffiti, and after the movie when the end credits are rolling.
  • In the 1998 film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the climax of the song is played when Dr. Gonzo (Benicio del Toro) is sitting in a water-filled bathtub and attempts to bring the tape player that's playing the song in with him, as he wants to "hear" the song better.
  • The song is used in season 10, episode 6 of The Simpsons ("D'oh-in In the Wind") after Homer drinks the hallucinogenic vegetable juice.
  • The song is used in the 1986 Academy Award winning film Platoon during a scene when a group of soldiers bond while taking hallucinogenic drugs.
  • In the Futurama episode "A Head in the Polls", Nixon sings the last part of the song while strumming a guitar.


  1. ^ "Top 100 Music Hits, Top 100 Music Charts, Top 100 Songs & The Hot 100". Retrieved July 8, 2011. 
  2. ^ "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". December 9, 2004. Archived from the original on June 26, 2008. Retrieved August 7, 2011. 
  3. ^ Tamarkin, Jeff, ed (2003). Got a revolution!:the turublent flight of Jefferson Airplane. Atria. p. 113. ISBN 0671034030. Retrieved April 30, 2011. 
  4. ^ Berkowitz, Kenny. Got a Revolution!: The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane. New York: Atrica Books, 2005, p. 153.
  5. ^ David Diebold & Kim Cataluna - White Rabbit
  6. ^ Collide - Chasing The Ghost
  7. ^ Blue Man Group - The Complex
  8. ^ Fuzzion - Black Magic
  9. ^ Lana Lane - Gemini
  10. ^ Naik Borzov - Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas soundtrack
  11. ^ Welch, Gillian. "The Fresh Air Interview: Gillian Welch & David Rawlings". NPR. Retrieved August 7, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Nice & Smooth - Jewel Of The Nile". 
  13. ^ "Filmography by year for Jefferson Airplane". Retrieved 2011, June 14. 

External links

  • Song Review: White Rabbit, Allmusic.
  • IMDB Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Reference

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