Saturday, November 29, 2014

Saturday Night at The Liberal Curmudgeon: Jefferson Airplane In Central Park

Readers may recall my pleasure at discovering an archive of clips from a concert I attended as a teen, the Grateful Dead at the Fillmore East, September 18, 1970, midnight to 6:00 a.m. As I wrote in a post about the concert, I became convinced that one can find online a record of any concert one has attended, even if, as in my case, the event took place in an ancient era. I was equally pleased to find a recording and setlist from another memorable concert, the Jefferson Airplane at Central Park, August 10, 1969, which I attended with a group of friends. The recording above must have been done reel-to-reel, which is why the sound production doesn't meet today's standards. The black-and-white photo above shows singer Grace Slick and guitarist Jorma Kaukonen in the Central Park Bandshell. After the Airplane played, another band that we'd never heard of, Santana, played, and we were amazed by the Latin rhythms they brought into rock. The performance closed with both bands jamming together. During the concert, one of my friends surveyed the countercultural crowd and said to me, "We're taking over!" We were young enough to believe it. We ignored an inconvenient truth: the election of Richard Nixon as president the year before. We also couldn't have known that many of the issues that we thought were nearing resolution, such as voting and reproductive rights, would be subject to continued reactionary attack. Regardless, we heard the Airplane sing their revolutionary anthems "Volunteers" and "We Can Be Together" and experienced that afternoon as one in which, as Wordsworth proclaimed in "French Revolution": "Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven!"


Michael J. Mand said...

You reminded me about a comment made by one of my radio "colleagues", Jonathan Schwartz. After he played a song on his "standard" show by Creedence Clearwater Revival, he alluded to his opinion that the music of CCR was rock and roll for rock and roll's sake - no pretentiousness. Jefferson Airplane, he said, now there was a band with an agenda. (He did not give me the impression that he was being judgemental. He was merely pointing out the difference between the two band's approach to music.) I just thought I'd share that with you.

Jeff Tone said...

Your anecdote speaks directly to my recollections of this concert.