White Rabbit-Generational Divide
In 1967 white rabbit was a classic example of the san francisco sound, with an alice in wonderland metaphor mixed with psychedelic drug references. For anyone, whether you had taken or had experienced psychedelic drugs, understood the references.
It's said we are currently a divided nation, divided in left from right politics beliefs and traditions. The other day i accidentally ran across a video on you tube with two black young people, a man and a woman, who were going to listen to white rabbit and comment on it.
Before this, a few weeks ago i saw a few episodes of another you tube series with three, sometimes four, young black men, listening to old songs from the fifties and sixties.
I found these programs fascinating in that it seemed so incongruous to hear and see people listen to music that for my generation was so important or embedded in my cultural experience at that time.
Since white rabbit, music has, of course, changed hands with the emergence of hip hop, rap, metal, and probably many other varieties im not privy to due to the fact i do not go nightclubbing.
I watched the couple listen to white rabbit as the lyrics showed up in the text run. The woman smiled a couple of times and i thought she might be enjoying the word play of psychedelic and alice in wonderland metaphors but when it was over they both looked at each other.
When i tried to find the you tube with the young black couple it opened up a whole new world. While i couldnt find that specific video, i found hundreds of similar type videos, homemade videos of many young people reviewing songs of my generation. I listened to several white rabbit reviews and a song that once upon a time was a classic to me, listening to it with the same amount of nostalgia, now so broken down into the cultural, younger generational lexicon, i dont know if it would ever have the same meaning.
I did learn some new things about it. One reviewer mentioned that the song was one of the first songs to thwart radio censorship (most young people today probably don't realize that mtv was still twenty years away, and radio was the primary outlet for all music and radio was, also heavily censored for language) by using an alice in wonderland theme as a metaphor for drug use.
Many of the young and black reviewers did not get the drug references at all and a couple of white reviewers did not mention the "poetry" or lyrics at all but were critical of the short, marching band tempo.
For me the song is poetic, lyrical, an in the face of the then establishment (such as the radio censorship) and an anthem of the then counter -culture. Renditions of the song ranged from video footage at woodstock and tv appearances of the jefferson airplane, such as on the smothers brother's hour. These appearances were also examples of censorship nose snubbing.
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