Song of the Week – Won’t You Try/Saturday Afternoon, Jefferson Airplane


Humanbein-pToday is the 50th anniversary of the Human Be-In that took place in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park on Saturday, January 14, 1967.

Some historians credit this “gathering of the tribe” for kicking off the 60s counter culture revolution and the precursor to the “summer of love.”

The celebration attracted a crowd estimated to be between 20,000-30,000 people for an afternoon of lectures, poetry and music provided by LSD advocate Timothy Leary, beat poets Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and the popular Bay area bands – Big Brother & the Holding Company, the Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane.

At the end of the day’s events, Ginsberg requested that everyone do their part to clean up the park to make sure it was left as clean as it was when the day began. True to the ethos of the day, the participants happily cooperated and left the park in pristine condition.

Today’s SotW is “Won’t You Try/Saturday Afternoon” from the Airplane’s third album, late 1967’s After Bathing at Baxter’s. (I once read that Baxter was JA’s code named for LSD making the title’s translation After Tripping on Acid.)

“Saturday…” was written by Paul Kantner – who passed away a year ago – to commemorate the essence of the day.

Saturday afternoon,
Yellow clouds rising in the noon,
Acid, incense and balloons;
Saturday afternoon,
People dancing everywhere,
Loudly shouting “I don’t care!”

It’s a time for growing,
And a time for knowing love;

Saturday afternoon,
Saturday afternoon;

It has often been reported that Kantner’s lyrics were inspired by a column in the San Francisco Chronicle written about the event by Ralph J. Gleason. I’m not sure that’s the truth although Gleason’s article does make references to LSD, incense, balloons and dancing; but those things would have been observed by anyone that was there. You can read the article at the link below and make your own judgement.

Ralph J. Gleason – The Tribes Gather – January 16, 1967

The “Saturday…” parts of the song are less about the music and more focused on the trippy harmony vocal arrangement.

The band would reprise the song to capture the vibe at the Woodstock hippie festival (“three days of peace and music”) a couple of years later in the summer of 1969. The song was not included in the original release of the movie or the 3 album set. But it was on the less successful Woodstock Two and the longer director’s cut of the film seen here.

Enjoy… until next week.

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