Saturday, January 30, 2016

Paul Kantner is still...

...dead and I'm still grieving. (Can you grieve for someone you've never met? Let's just say I'm "bummed.")

Here's another great tune, "Crown of Creation," that Mr. Kantner wrote.* Like "Wooden Ships," it's about the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust. (He was really preoccupied with that, wasn't he? But I guess that wouldn't have been so unusual for someone who grew up in the 1950s.) I just like the way it sounds.

From Wikipedia (all emphasis mine):

The title track and second single is one of Paul Kantner's best preserved anthems from the band. The song's rhythm had been played by Kantner ever since his military school days and finally makes an appearance on the album. Its energy reflects the time period in which it was encased. The meaning is supposed to derive from life being created and destroyed through lengths of time, over and over again. Kantner took some phrases from the science-fiction novel "The Chrysalids" and slightly modified them for the composition. When asked in a 1996 interview regarding his use of other's work, Kantner says "I have thousands of influences in literature and find it a turn on to leave a little thing like that for people to find..."

Also from Wikipedia (what did we do before the Internet?):

A few thousand years in the future, post-apocalypse rural Labrador has become a warmer and more hospitable place than it is at present. The inhabitants of Labrador have vague historical recollections of the "Old People," a technologically advanced civilization which existed long ago and which they believe was destroyed when God sent "Tribulation" to the world to punish their forebears' sins. The society that has survived in Labrador is loosely reminiscent of the American frontier during the 18th century, with a level of technology in use similar to the Amish of the present-day United States.

Though the nature of "Tribulation" is not explicitly stated, it is implied that it was a nuclear holocaust, both by the mutations and by the stories of sailors who report blackened, glassy wastes to the south-west where the remains of faintly glowing cities can be seen (presumably the east coast of the US). Sailors venturing too close to these ruins experience symptoms consistent with radiation sickness. A woman from Sealand, a character with evident knowledge of the Old People's technology, mentions "the power of gods in the hands of children."

The song "Crown of Creation" by Jefferson Airplane was inspired by the novel. Its title and lyrics are drawn from the text and plot with permission from Wyndham. One example lifted almost verbatim from the text reflects a philosophical explanation by the Sealand woman: "But life is change, that is how it differs from rocks, change is its very nature." This line is rendered in the lyrics as "Life is change—How it differs from the rocks." The portion of the song that reads: "In loyalty to their kind / they cannot tolerate our minds. / In loyalty to our kind / we cannot tolerate their obstruction" is from an explanation by the Sealand woman that asserts the inevitability of conflict between a more advanced species and its less advanced progenitors. (The book's original phrase is "they cannot tolerate our rise.")

And, no, I didn't know any of that until just now.

* The video is from a 1968 appearance on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. And, if you're too young to know what that was, click here. It was a big deal in the 1960s.

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