Meaning of White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane

In April 1971, the Illinois state authorities included the song White Rabbit in the list of “drug-oriented rock records”. That selection also included A Whiter Shade of Pale, Puff the Magic Dragon and other well-known works of famous bands.

And a few decades later, Jefferson Airplane’s calling card was awarded a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and lines in several authoritative rankings of the best songs of all time.

The history of creation and the meaning of the song White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane

The song was the creation of the group’s vocalist Grace Slick (Grace Slick). She composed the words and music of White Rabbit while still performing with The Great Society. She even performed it with her former band, but recorded the track with Jefferson Airplane.

The song’s lyrics are laced with references to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, which Slick has been a fan of since she was a child. If you have read these works of the classic of world literature, then you will easily understand what Grace is hinting at in most of the lines of White Rabbit.

Many allusions are perceived as clear allusions to drug use. If desired, such subtext can be found literally in every phrase. But, you see, this is just the case when such an interpretation does not seem to be sucked out of thin air.

Like most rock musicians of the sixties, Grace was well acquainted with all sorts of illegal drugs. She spoke about the history of the creation of the song “White Rabbit” in an interview with Q magazine:

I took acid and listened to Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain album for twenty-four hours straight until it was burned into my brain.

She also recalled that the rhythm of the composition was inspired by the famous “Bolero” by Maurice Ravel.

According to the author, the White Rabbit in the song personifies the curiosity that makes people go in search of something new. Recall that many of Grace’s contemporaries saw psychedelics like LSD as a way to expand the boundaries of consciousness.

And the following excerpt from Slick’s interview will surely dispel the last doubts about what Grace had in mind when she composed the song:

We have all been read these stories where you take some kind of drug – and here you have wonderful adventures. Alice in Wonderland is a prime example of this. She’s just stoned, getting too big for the room while the caterpillar sits on a psychedelic mushroom and smokes opium. In The Wizard of Oz, they land in an opium poppy field and wake up to see the Emerald City. “Peter Pan”? Lightly sprinkle cocaine powder on your head and you can fly.


Release and achievements

In June 1967, White Rabbit was released as a single from Surrealistic Pillow. The song peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Jefferson Airplane’s second top 10 track.

White Rabbit became one of the main songs of the legendary “summer of love”, and in 1969 the band played it superbly at the Woodstock festival.

As mentioned above, the composition was included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was also included in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Clip White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane

And now let’s see the music video for White Rabbit, which was filmed on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

Interesting Facts

  • The track was not included on the UK version of Surrealistic Pillow.
  • The song is featured in several famous films including Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Game and Platoon.
  • The line “go ask Alice” became the title of a famous book published in the format of an allegedly real diary of a drug addict. It is believed to be the memoir of Beatrice Sparks.

White Rabbit Lyrics

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

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 to
Call Alice
When she was just small

When the 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

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

White Rabbit Lyrics

One pill makes you bigger
And the other makes you small
And those that your mother gives you
They don’t do anything at all
Go ask Alice
When she’s three meters tall

And if you run after the rabbits
And you know you’ll fall
Tell them the hookah smoking caterpillar
told you
Call Alice
When she was still small

When these men are on the chessboard
Get up and tell me where to go
And you just ate some mushroom
And lost heart
Go ask Alice
I think she knows what to do

When logic and proportionality
The end has finally come
And the White Knight speaks backwards
And the Black Queen was left without a head,
Remember what Sonya said:
Feed your head
feed your head

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