Page 1 of 1

"We Can Be Together" lyrics

PostPosted: Sun Oct 27, 2013 1:40 pm
by Airplane Freak
The lyrics to "We Can Be Together" were lifted, with some modifications, from a document called "An Open Letter to The Hippies" by Guy Debord, the Situationist philosopher and theorist who was a driving catalyst (among many others) behind the 1968 Paris student uprising. Debord and the Jefferson Airplane were friends and mutual admirers. Debord was also known to have enthusiastically stated, "The Jefferson Airplane is ME!" [<<Le Jefferson Airplane est moi!>>] (Perhaps just a bit of an overstatement on Guy's part then, what?) Later, the ideas of the Situationists had a powerful influence on the punk movement, especially bands like The Sex Pistols and the Clash. The history of the Situationists and their ideas will be well worth looking into, especially in today's world and climate.

Re: "We Can Be Together" lyrics

PostPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2013 8:08 pm
by brumus
Interesting. I didn't know that about Guy Debord, the Situationist philosopher and theorist.

I did know that the line "We are all outlaws in the eyes of America" was used in anti-war protests in the States at the time. I vividly recall, probably in 69, seeing a newspaper photo of protesters marching down the street carrying a large banner with those words on it.

And of course 'tear down the walls' was a name of a Fred Neil song with folkie Vince Martin and 'up against the wall' probably came from the Black Panthers in Oakland since Kantner knew Huey Newton I believe.

The lyrics then and now do come across as a rather trite leftist manifesto and Kantner got a lot of flack about that, for being politically naive but I don't think Kantner used or meant for those lyrics to be political declarations but more cultural.

Jefferson Airplane always were a cultural revolutionary band, to me anyway. It's something I could still see as a valid position today, giving their legacy a more broader validity than just music. They wanted violent, in terms of abrupt, not physical, cultural change and in many ways they succeeded in helping bring that about. And in many ways we're still in cultural shock today from that, dealing with those changes from that time.

Re: "We Can Be Together" lyrics

PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2013 1:58 pm
by brumus
I should also add that the song was composed at the request of political radical Abbie Hoffman who was friends with Kantner at the time. Hoffman wanted to unite and mobilize the various factions of the counter-culture with the radical left in opposing the Vietnam war which was escalating dramatically in 68-69. Bobby Kennedy and MLK had been shot and killed and Nixon had been elected so it was pretty dire.
Kantner has borrowed extensively from other artists, in some cases I would argue coming close to plagiarism, but the important thing is it created something totally new and original out of various sources which is what artists have been doing for centuries as Picasso noted; Classical composers would take old traditional folk songs and incorporate them into their symphonies. And it's a long tradition in the folk and blues community to borrow lyrics and melodies handed down over many years. Pete Seeger called this the "FOLK PROCESS" Kantner was doing nothing new in this regard.

Re: "We Can Be Together" lyrics

PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2013 1:58 pm
by JoeD80
I don't buy this one.

Re: "We Can Be Together" lyrics

PostPosted: Mon Dec 23, 2013 1:03 am
by brumus
[quote="JoeD80"]I don't buy this one.[/quote]

Said like a good Marxist!