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White Rabbit

December 3, 2009
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Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “White Rabbit, by Jefferson Airplane“, posted with vodpod

(1) One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don’t do anything at all
Go ask Alice
When she’s ten feet tall

(2) And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you’re going to fall
Tell ’em a hookah smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call
Call Alice
When she was just small

(3) When men on the chessboard
Get up and tell you where to go
And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving low
Go ask Alice
I think she’ll know

(4) When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen’s “off with her head!”
Remember what the dormouse said:
Feed your head
Feed your head
Feed your head

I’m sure you will find that this song is a lot stranger than my previous one, Don’t Come Around Here No More. This song, performed by Jefferson Airplane, brings together the world of Alice… and the drug world. The story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland did seem trippy, and the ideas and characters in it were also something out of a dream. The song had some references to Carroll’s sequel, Through The Looking Glass. Since I haven’t read that story, I will look at only the points I’m familiar with. One idea I noticed when listening to the music was that the song kept getting louder and louder, until coming to an abrupt stop, similar to the story.

In the first verse, the songwriter (Grace Slick, says Google) is referring to the sides of the mushroom that can change Alice’s size. It could also be linked to the cake and potion Alice imbibed at the start of the story. The line “and the ones that mother gives you…” could be arguing that household remedies for stress, pain, etc. aren’t really helpful, and maybe something else (a drug) is necessary to ease your problems. Another idea is that the experiences you make at home aren’t worthwhile. One should get out and live free. When Grace said “go ask Alice,” she was stating that since Alice has already been in Wonderland, she has seen and done it all. In other words, we could all learn from her…

In the second verse, (or stanza, I’m not sure) initially relates to the beginning of the story, when Alice first spotted the White Rabbit and chased him down his hole. Again, going by instinct that this is a drug related song, Grace Slick may be stating that if you are going to take drugs, most likely hallucinogens, to give a “thanks” to the HookahPillar. Is she saying that Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland is condoning this type of behavior? Also keep in mind that it was the HookahPillar that gave Alice the advice to use the “Magic Mushroom” to get back to normal size.

The third section makes a reference to men on a chessboard, which since I’m clueless about, must be from Through The Looking Glass. From a general standpoint, I know that the human controls the chess pieces, so there is something strange about the game pieces controlling you. Similar to the story we have read, Alice discovers that the social order works backwards in Wonderland; playing cards are in charge, followed by animals, and then humans. The line describing “your mind moving low” after eating the mushroom could be an idea that there is an adverse affect with drugs, and the “coming down” part of the trip will be difficult. But don’t worry, as stated above, Alice has been through all of this; she has experienced what it’s like to go through the troubles of Wonderland.

The forth verse starts with talk about logic and proportion being out of line, which appears throughout the tale. In numerous cases, Alice encounters some weird Wonderlandians, and they all confuse her with their nonsensical way of speaking. The logic is also absent when Alice attempts to recite her poem to the HookahPillar, and later the Mock Turtle and Gryphon. Proportion is out of whack as well, referring to the scene after Alice takes a bite of the mushroom; her body parts grow randomly, making her seem as a snake to the bird. He attacks her, accusing that since she looks like a snake she must be one. She cannot really argue because her mind has changed so much from entering Wonderland, that she is unsure who she is as well. The line stating that the Red Queen was the one who ordered her subject’s heads to be cut off is wrong; it was actually the Queen of Hearts, but I guess that doesn’t fit into the melody of the song. The line “remember what the Dormouse said” might relate to Chapter Eleven. I have to give credit of this find to Miles Wilson, who brought up the scene with the Mad Hatter at the stand, and not remembering what the Dormouse said. The line “Feed Your Head” I couldn’t find in the book, but if a reader does spot it, please comment about it. Otherwise it might refer to feeding you brain with knowledge, which does sound Carrollish.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 9, 2010 12:23 am

    I thought the lines were (in the song):

    Heed your head
    Heed your head

    You know, otherwise it’s “off with” it…your head, I mean.

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