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Jefferson Airplane Lather Lyrics

Last updated: 11/08/2014 03:36:46 AM

Lather was thirty years old today,
They took away all of his toys.
His mother sent newspaper clippings to him,
About his old friends who'd stopped being boys.
There was Howard C. Green, just turned thirty-three,
His leather chair waits at the bank.
And Sergeant Dow Jones, twenty-seven years old,
Commanding his very own tank.
But Lather still finds it a nice thing to do,
To lie about nude in the sand,
Drawing pictures of mountains that look like bumps,
And thrashing the air with his hands.

But wait, oh Lather's productive you know,
He produces the finest of sounds,
Putting drumsticks on either side of his nose,
Snorting the best licks in town,
But that's all over...

Lather was thirty years old today,
And the lather came foam from his tongue.
He looked at me eyes wide and plainly say,
Is it true that I'm no longer young?
And the children call him famous,
what the old men call insane,
And sometimes he's so nameless,
That he hardly knows what game to play...
Which words to say...
And I should have told him, "No, you're not old."
And I should have let him go

Thanks to Jim H for submitting Lather Lyrics.

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Pothead | Reviewer: gonegirl58 | 11/6/14

I was an 11 year veteran of Catholic Schools and my schoolmate and I spent a lot of afterschool time up in her room smoking joints in the early 1970s. TR had an older brother who had been in Vietnam and we constantly stole his albums and raided his books. We obsessed about certain songs and LATHER was one we loved. God, the words resonate so deeply, I was only 15 and the thought of turning 30 was horrific, yet I sit here facing 60 with laughter in my heart remembering my exact stoned response to these lyrics - haha wut!

from a 30 year old kiddo | Reviewer: choma | 4/18/13

maybe i too am mentally deficient.. i believe we all are, in a way or another.. i once read a saying saying "do a crazy thing every day, it is good for your mental health"..

being naked feels fine, people giving a diagnosis to undermine that should try it more often if you ask me ..

maybe having tried some psychedelics makes me think i can understand this song better than some others and maybe i am wrong assuming this..

but i sure am socially unfit for refusing to be a "grown-up" that stops to live for pleasure and takes up responsibilities which are not his own but expected to be shared by all shit-izens..

i am responsible for what i do but never will be for the devastating reality moneymakers have created for us, unleashing their legists and coppers to tame those who might disagree with the bombing and starving of populations all over the world !!

it makes me so sad that "society" - that is also people whom i love like grand-parents, working friends, .. - expects us youngsters to fit into this world which has been so harmful to life in all its forms ..

this feeling i have is what i understand this song to be about.. i did long before i was thirty and i hope it will last for it is definitely not the number that matters..

Lather... Loss of Youth | Reviewer: Nate | 4/1/13

I loved this song in the sixties. I was still a few years from turning 30 and I dreaded it. 30 was the dividing line between the "Pepsi Generation" and "The Man" (the Establishment).
Look at the politicians today - products of the sixties - and wonder if these great Jefferson Airplane rebellion songs penetrated their dull consciousness. Don't these fools realize that the sixties ideals of LOVE and PEACE were not just words? Yet these ex-hippies poison the air, water, and food to make money for themselves. Maybe they never bought into these ideals. Maybe money is their god. I think the ideals of the sixties are still the best you'll ever find. It was a Golden Age of the arts - music, painting, architecture, and philosophy. The sixties was America's burst of creativity. GROOVY!

Wonderfull | Reviewer: Paulo - Brasil | 8/21/12

Simplesmente linda, com todos os significados que os comentaristas fizeram.
E Grace Slick está maravilhosa nesta canção.
Amo esta música desde que a ouvi pela primeira vez, em 1975, quanto eu tinha 22 anos, no Rio de Janeiro (Radio Eldo Pop - 98.1).

“Sergeant Dow Jones, commanding his own tank” | Reviewer: Christopher from Paradise | 3/8/12

While I am here I might as well comment since this song did seem interesting to me. We in the 60’s kind of lived it in a way, now I am 56.

Yes it is about growing up, but what I found interesting was the use of “Sergeant Dow Jones, commanding his own tank” Basically saying war big business, and those who control the market get to make war.

Harwitz E. Greened thirty-three, His leather chair waits at the bank.
“Distinguished 20th-century bearers of the Jewish family name Horowitz include the Galician-born Israeli economist, David Horowitz, who was first Governor of the Bank of Israel”

Maybe the Jewish reference point to the money changers, in the temple.
Green seems to mean money in ones name, like a family owned bank where one can pass the wealth on like so many elite families in America tried to do.

The last part refers to the drummer I believe, who turns out to be quite productive, with the use of drugs for energy and inspiration becomes great, and yes a hero in the eyes of the young, and a mad man in the eyes of the old.

The last line seems to say it is best to live the illusion you are not old, because one looses the innocence of being wide eyed observing the world, and joy of youth.

The 60’s were great opening of the eyes of the people and much change came about, real freedom, and peace loving, was a part of that, and a better understanding of how things work.

A More Obvious View | Reviewer: Forrest | 8/11/11

Boy! So much for these deep interpretations!

I always thought that this song meant just what it sounded like. A 30-year old is rich because he's part of a very successful band. He's a drummer who can do things as care free as "lie about nude in the sand".

And the older generation sees him with his long hair lying nude in the sand, and thinks he's a good for nothing, but the children, who know he's a great drummer, call him "famous". Of course, often, he's just the unknown member of the band.

Alas, he's now turned 30, and he's being told he has to grow up and be responsible. But he was so happy when he was 29 that the narrator should have told him, "No, you're not old!"

"for such is the Kingdom of Heaven..." | Reviewer: Dennis Moonitz | 8/5/11

A child's mind trapped in a body that has crossed the theshold where there are now expectations of manly responsibility based soley on first impression - I see children like this in the course of my day, tending telephone systems for institutions that care for those who will not mature mentally beyond childhood. It is tragic, heart breaking at first and then one realizes God's grace on this child, to never have to bear the weight of care for anything, forever alone in the wonder of a child's world, totally uninhibited, living in faith that he will be cared for come what may. I do not know the inspiration for this poem, but I once heard it was from the pages of the diary of Lather's care taker. No drug inuendos, perhaps used as an analogy of our generation during the nineteen sixties...My father used to cup his hands over his nose and mouth and by squeezing his nose, play his imaginary jazz trumpet to amuse and sometimes embarrass me when I was a child...There have been times I have, with pathos,related to Lather...when I have felt like a social characature of this child, seeing myself from the perception of others and mainstream society... 'normal' people, from whom I am sometimes self-alienated.

Drummers, Ones Who Drum Up and Drum Down... | Reviewer: Laal Taams | 7/16/11

Duke Ellington wwrote"The DRUM is a WOMAN." Most of the ones who have aggravated me and the other colleagues for many years have one thing in common...they are like LATHER.

What band or orchestra could function without them?

What would the Catholic Church be without rhythm? This song (Lather) is one of the best on a great album which was called Jefferson Airplane's "Sgt. Peppers" as the album by the Stones called "Their Satanic Majesties Request." Ah, the sixties. If you can clearly recall them, then perhaps you were not actually there.

none | Reviewer: Anonymous | 1/28/11

The song was about a 30 year old man who was mentally deficient. He was like a child. The song used the man's innocence to represent the coming of age of a generation, and not trusting anyone over thirty.

thoughtful and sad | Reviewer: LeGreen | 11/16/10

It's less than one year till I'm 30. When I hear this song (one of my favourites) it often makes me thoughtful and a bit sad about myself. I'm still childish and to have fun is most important to me. But when I'm around with younger people, I often notice that "social" life already began to change me. But I'm still young and I'll try to keep it!

Ps: I admire all of you who could see Jefferson Airplane live that time!

Actually it's not so disturbing... | Reviewer: rick | 6/26/10

...once you learn that Grace Slick write the song about the then-lover, Spencer Dryden, the drummer of the band, who was the first member of the band to turn 30. And the band's bass player, the legendary Jack Casady, had actually been arrested on a California beach for lying about nude in the sand.

But I will always hear the darker, more disturbing interpretation.

Don't trust anyone over 30 | Reviewer: Oskar Back | 6/24/10

was the motto of the generation (mine) who listened to Lather. At 30 I was smug that I was still smiling baby-wide, but at 57 the song does make me a little teary. While my "inner child" isn't too far beneath my wrinkling surface, it is kinda sad that they saddle you with all these idiotic responsibilities when you step into your "public life".
For the record, I still don't trust most people over 30 :)

What a song | Reviewer: ßìk.. | 5/22/10

This song is better than other airplane songs like white rabbit,plastic fantastic lover,today,etc.What a voice Grace Slick has got.This song is somewhat depressing though,but who cares when it's so good.

Vietnam? | Reviewer: kim | 4/12/10

I've always thought that this song was about someone who had been in Vietnam and came back drugged out and insane. Drawing pictures of mountains that look like bumps and thrashing the air with his hands (helicopter sounds). And even the mosquito sounds; would've driven me insane to be there.

A statement about living your life 'forever young' | Reviewer: barry | 9/7/09

i agree, this song is so wonderfully vague and about many things as opposed to just a few. But there's a couple of references that can't be ignored that tie it to an interpretation involving a young at heart sole who delved to the depths and came out on the other side both changed and forever the same.

"He produces the finest of sound,
Putting drumsticks on either side of his nose,
Snorting the best licks in town,"

an obvious drug reference, snorting some halucynogen of one sort or another.

"And the children call him famous,
what the old men call insane,"

Probably building on his drug exploits, framing Lather as an agressive experimenter in drugs, to the extent that he has earned accolades from the the younger generation which values the experience and the condemnation of the older generation which condemns it.

BUt perhaps the most haunting line of all: "But that's all over now...."

Why? Why is it all over now?
First, the institutionalization imagery like his belongings being taken away and his mother sending him newpaper clippings, as if Lather were put away in somehting like an insane asylum (consistent with all the other references to his arrested development). This reading paints Lather as a casualty of his own excesses.
And another interpretation is that simply Lather has crossed the thirty year old threshold into that older, unhip generation, thus ending his life of being forever young.
Perhaps both interpretations are meant to be read into it.
And in a gesture of beautiful poetic justice, Lather, the forever bright-eyed endlessly inquisitive experimenter is trapped in youth forever. As haunting a thought as the mysterious ballad from which the tale is spun.