I've seen some very good reviews for this song here. I'd like to contribute with my understanding of one verse.
"And the ones that mother gives you don't do anything at all" means, in my opinion, that people are doing well when they are just - normal, without any drugs. Mother won't hurt you, the pills she may give you will not do anything at all, keeping you safe and normal. You're better on your own, (even in the bad times) than on any possible drugs.
Excuse me for eventual bad grammar.
Generation gap | Reviewer: Didiane | 3/2/14
Ok, I was there . White rabbit came before ,during , and after me
In the 70' I did not question the music , I lived it ! Adored it !
Praised it ! But....... Never did I thought for a minute that ''some'' were warning us . If I coudl only knew then what I know now, I would make my own music , and probebly get shot.....:)
This is it , sorry guys , love you..
Mind blowing song! | Reviewer: Misty | 1/17/14
I've always loved that song!!The beat and tempo are the perfect backdrop for the song's words.
It's very psychedelic from a psychedelic era. "Feed your head" = Getting high.
And you just had some kind of mushroom...."When logic and proportion"...
Feed you head feed your head!
Lyric correction? | Reviewer: Poetica | 7/24/13
In the second line of the last verse, written above as "Have fallen sloppy dead", I've always heard "sloppy" as either "smartly" or (less likely) "sharply". But I've never heard "sloppy" in the thousand or more times I've listened to the song; I think it needs fixing. :)
From The Airplane web page | Reviewer: Anonymous | 7/19/13
Grace has always said that White Rabbit was intended as a slap toward parents who read their children stories such as Alice in Wonderland (in which Alice uses several drug-like substances in order to change herself) and then wondered why their children grew up to do drugs. For Grace and others in the ’60s, drugs were an inevitable part of mind-expanding and social experimentation. With its enigmatic lyrics, White Rabbit became one of the first songs to sneak drug references past censors on the radio. Even Marty Balin, Grace’s eventual rival in the Airplane, regarded the song as a “masterpiece.”
This song is almost entirely based - practically verbatim - from Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll - 1865. The Wikipedia article on the song states that Ms. Slick was a huge fan of the books. The lines at the end that are not from the book: the Dormouse never said "Feed your head" (or even "Keep your head"); he was practically always almost asleep.
The '60s and '70s inspired drug-induced analyses of AIW, such as "Alice in Acidland".
Ran into this song on Youtube today. It stands up pretty well after all these years.
Some reviewers are saying the song ends with the words "Feed your head," while others claim the words are "Keep your head."
I googled the lyrics and they say "Feed your head," as also seems quite clearly enunciated in the song.
I haven't seen a collective body of work as pretentious as these posts since I was in college. Lighten up, people. This song was gobbledygook, in much the same way the Beatles' "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" was lifted verbatim from a circus billboard. Grace Slick had the voice of a diva, and the looks of a Playboy bunny even if her head was a bit messed up - and I'm not quite convinced of that, yet, either, 40 years later. The song itself wasn't a two-verse, bridge break, final verse creation as so many British Invasion songs were; it was more like a Roy Orbison ballad, starting low & slow then building to a crescendo. It was written to showcase her voice. THAT IS ALL, FOLKS. It could have been a Tide commercial, or what-have-you. I think Miss Slick could have sung a Studebaker commercial and made it sound erotic.
The pills that mother gives you don't do anything at all are birth control pills.
Feed your head was another way of saying "take drugs."
This song was written shortly after Puff the Magic Dragon became a big hit.
So the Disneyfication of the American imagination is complete: one of you had no idea "Alice in Wonderland" was a book long before it was a movie(s), cartoon, coffee mug, T-shirt, or the cute little lunchbox you carried as you toddled off to your joke of a school. SIGH. Apparently listening to my generation's music is like picking up messages from a dead star: the sound is there, but the context is gone. Thanks for trying, though....
Some very interesting comments on White Rabbit,its worth checking out Tenniel,s beautiful illustrations of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, they certainly influenced our vision of what the books about.
I think that Grace Slick's performance adds a particularly atmospheric and moody quality to the song, with a nice touch of satire. A very attractive lady with a sense of hidden danger. The great thing about the 60's music scene was it just opened a lot of peoples minds to new possibilities and personal independence. (if you were born in the 50's it was important to rebel a bit...a lot!) A pity we have moved into a controlled and less free way of life. Still young people will always want to express there vision of the world, all we older folk can do is facilitate that. Always remember what it was like when we had less knowledge.
just two words: insanely great!
Someone regrets it's just too short.
It's a phrase long,
there's continuity in it, split in two clearly separate steps:
the "narration" or descriptive phase, in which all the essential details are given:
the pills, altering your mind, in contrast to the pills your mother gives you (vitamins/placebo) which don't do anything at all.
[here the music makes a loop, time for first decision]
Go ask Alice when she's ten feet tall (you'll see the experienced friends much greater than you)
and, should you have decided for chasing the rabbits (illusions) be prepared to fall (in drugs).
And present your credentials, that you're invited to join (a hookah smoking caterpillar gave you a call). It was usual to get introduced into the experience by someone else.
Now you're in, and feel great, your friend's not so big anymore, or you're just feeling the effects and all around you is not the same anymore.
[Second phase, the experience begins - the music starts a crescendo in a kind of excitement]
Then, when the watchdogs (the men on the chessboard) try to get you back on tracks, you find escape in the magic mushrooms, and your mind start flying high, you're on trip and only your friend - in the same state - can give you directions. When "logic and proportion" [the real world] fall apart, "sloppy dead", nothing makes sense or just the contrary is true, when the White Knight talks backward. And the Red Queen is off her head [in altered state], better you reminding the "doormouse" words: Feed your head = read, read and read, get as much information as you can, they will propel you for the trip.
You can clearly feel the continuous crescendo all along her trip, like she's spinning and even taking off her feet, flying high on her state.
It's and incredibly effective description of a trip experience.
A real Poet, undoubtedly.
I've never been on drugs but I lived those years, well - just a few years later - and I have a wonderful remind of the madness still present in California in the early seventies. You could breath is just because it was all in the air.
And that's what makes those years so unique and creative. There was a great ferment and culture was faced under a new creative way, the dream was there and anyone could take a bit.
They, we had been players in a changing world, and almost everything from those years reflect that.
No matter on which side of the barricade you could have been, I'm mostly speaking for Europe and Italy about this - the excitement and hopes were the same.
Now I can hardly see a pale shadow - if any - of that experience. Young generations are just as empty as their music and their whole life experience.
I'm in the creative world, and I'm really horrified by the total lack of genuine creativity, of a search for something, they're most like ectoplasm.
Like on Tommy, the movie, they're blind, deaf and dumb. They would need something electrifying to shock them out of their sleep. But still I can't see any.
And I keep listening this beautiful song, and I can have my own trips, without any need of substances to alter my mind. This music is just enough.
Great. And her voice, what an amazing singer she's.
BTW, the above is just my own interpretation, as it often happens, ART is subject to personal interpretation and it just work because everyone may have his own vision. And be happy with it.
White Rabbit is way up there with Space Odyssey, Stairway To Heaven and a few other all-time best pop/rock songs. The song is only the half of it, it's really the style and performance of the song, Grace Slick's vocals in particular, that is so killer. All great songs set a hell of a mood and White Rabbit is no exception, with it's minor key grind evoking primorial powers and dangerous adventures you might not survive and certainly will never forget. I've just been re-discovering this song lately by way of learning about another 60's band that made a few likewise stellar and amazing recordings that have remained popular over the decades, The Byrds. The Byrds had David Crosby, one bad-ass hippy for sure. Now Jefferson Airplane had several really bad-ass hippies, including Jorma K and Grace Slick. I have been watching the "White Rabbit Somebody To Love" UTube from an old episode of The Smothers Brothers, the one where the song is introduced by way of a suggestion about "smoking a banana" (yeah!). Jorma in that video plays that awesome moody intro lead guitar phrase and looks like the baddest hippy ever!! Grace Slick is just HOT as hell, I'll never get over her and how her singing screams "I am woman!" in the best way possible. Clearly she broke a lot of ground and is it me or Juliette Lewis was influenced by her and she is hot too of course with similar beautiful dimply full cheeks. This band really had the San Francisco psychedelic sound nailed down. It has something to do with hollow-body electric guitars with worn out strings played on Fender, a distinct rhythmic sensibility, percussive mutings, and a lot of good and bad acid and weed. What really stands out about the mid to late sixties is the amazing quality of the songs and recordings of songs, just what the microphones and tapes captured for posterity, so to speak. Truly mind blowing.
I was born on 1994 and this song was released in 1967. Actually, at first I really don't know anything bout this song. It so happened I heard it on the movie "The Game" starring Michael Douglas and Sean Penn. OMG! The song really caught my attention and I can't get over of everyday playing it! #LSS
I read the past reviews. The're so many points to hear. Some says it refers to Satan. That it's all bout pills and its destructive effect to humans. Some literally say this song talks bout the cartoon "Alice in Wonderland" itself. I cannot say what exactly this song means. But, I thought this was one of the best songs I've ever heard. This I can say MUSIC IS MAGIC. That it can make different reactions and interpretation from the public. It's very powerful that it uses these kinds of words to make people think in the deep manner. I love it, Jefferson! Good job :)
This is somehow what we lose today. We lack the essence of music as a part of literature. We just choose to dance, drink 'em alcohols and party all night. Most songs to make people "just" dance? Shut up.
Thank you for letting me review. Also, for giving this song's lyrics :}
This is a GREAT song, one in my top ... say, 25. The music, the lyrics, the tremendous beat as it revs up to the ending ... they all just grab me, it's a song I play at top volume, one I always sing along to, a CD I always have in my car. It's up there with Dust in the Wind, Hey Jude, Stairway to Heaven, Abraham, Martin and John, Year of the Cat, Aquarius, Hotel California, Eleanor Rigby, In the Year 2525, Scarborough Fair, Satisfaction, Another Brick in the Wall, Classical Gas, I Am I Said, Morningside, Let It Be, Johnathan Livingston Seagull, and Also Zprach Zarathustra Sunrise (theme song for "2001: A Space Odyssey"). It's just an awesome song! ... Don't make 'em like that anymore. :)