I surely liked my rock-and-roll music way back in the day, but I generally stayed away from the raucous stuff. I was more into the breezy and melodic, LA/California folk-rock, country-rock sounds (Byrds, Burritos, Buffalo Springfield, CS&N, Poco, etc.). But there were a few exceptions. Clapton’s bluesy band, Cream, comes to mind along with Jefferson Airplane.
Jefferson Airplane! What a motley crew! The band hit it big in 1967 with the release of their second album, “Surrealistic Pillow.” Airplane was the biggest of the San Francisco, psychedelic hippie bands (Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Moby Grape). The band’s sound, paced by Jorma Kaukonen’s ragged lead guitar, wasn’t much better than a garage band, but they wrote some good tunes and co-lead singer, Grace Slick, was pretty good.
So why am I writing a post about the Airplane? Hang on. We’re almost there.
One of the two big hits from “Surrealistic Pillow” was “Somebody to Love” (see video above), which Slick brought over from her previous San Fran band, The Great Society. “Somebody to Love” was one of the great rock anthems of the late-60s. The song is actually about a person experiencing a romantic break-up and contemplating a rebound, but the opening verse can be interpreted several different ways:
“When the truth is found to be lies, and all the joy within you dies.”
America’s youth heard Grace Slick angrily belt out those words in April 1967 and they weren’t thinking about a romantic breakup, they were thinking about how many of the country’s institutions – government, military, education, church, corporations, marriage, etc. – were being exposed as imperfect and even corrupt.
I enjoyed “Somebody to Love” over the years, but at one point I had a new, personal interpretation. I had been a Roman Catholic for twenty-seven years, ever since I was baptized as an infant, and believed in the church’s salvation system of sacramental grace and merit. But after reading God’s Word and encountering many passages that contradicted Catholic doctrine, I left the Catholic church. I had discovered that the “truth” I was taught in parochial grammar school and Catholic high school had been lies. My world was rocked. I was shaken. It was like the rug had been yanked out from under me. Talk about a crisis of conscience! However, after a few years, by God’s grace, I heard and understood the Gospel and I repented of my sin and accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior by faith alone. Praise God!
So now, whenever I hear the opening verse of “Somebody to Love,” I think about that tumultuous and upsetting period in my life when I found out through God’s Word that the “truth” I was taught and had hung my hat on for so many years was all lies. Many Catholics must be experiencing something similar with their church currently being rocked to its foundation by the scandal tsunami and by pope Francis’ heterodox reforms. Where can they turn? To THE Truth, Jesus Christ, and God’s Word!
Postscript: Jefferson Airplane’s founding members Marty Balin, Paul Kantner, and Signe Toly Anderson are deceased. Singer, Grace Slick, is now 79-years-old and in poor health. The gospel of 1960s rock and roll, “peace, love, sex, and drugs,” definitely had its limits. We’re all looking for somebody to love and to be loved. Eternal and truly fulfilling love is only found in Jesus Christ. Repent of your sin and accept Jesus as your Savior by faith alone.
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” – 1 John 4:9-11