Lex Neon on Jorma Kaukonen (Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna)

When Lex started taking guitar seriously, “Embryonic Journey” was one of the first solo guitar pieces that he tried to piece together. To this day, Lex plays this Jorma Kaukonen song to test new guitars. Jorma’s birthday lands on December 23. Here’s to him.

The sound of Jorma’s guitar pulled ancient memories from my head. This is one point where I start “remembering.” When I hear his end solo for the Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody To Love,” my five senses go haywire and I start remembering things that don’t connect with my reality.

Why did I start remembering? I don’t know. It’s as if there’s an “overlap” of memories that begin before I was born. These memories include laying in a parked van with rock and political posters on the inside, floating over a field of wheat, “I’d Like To Get To Know You” by Spanky and Our Gang, and Jorma’s big red Gibson and dark shades.

At the tail end of the 1970s, there were dozens of television and radio programs documenting the history of rock music. Ultimately they would get to the “Summer Of Love,” 1967. That’s where I heard “Somebody To Love” by the Jefferson Airplane, and that great solo by Jorma.

I needed to know what connected me to Jorma’s sound and find myself some outward coherence. I hoofed it to Record Retreat and bought a copy of Surrealistic Pillow.

I still love the album. The songs are monumental pop treasures (“White Rabbit,” “Somebody To Love,” “Today,” “Embryonic Journey,” etc.). The music incorporates the flavor of rock, folk, and blues, both electric and acoustic, with a driving pop sound. The album also started my fascination with all things tie-dyed.

Part of the fun for me was learning each song by ear and playing along, pretending to be Jorma. Dig his country-blues guitar chops on “My Best Friend.” His solo runs on “Plastic Fantastic Lover” have some of the spookiest blues-wailin’ tones you’ll ever hear. My favorite song to play is “She Has Funny Cars.” It just sounds so . . . sinister.

There are a lot of great Airplane and Hot Tuna recordings to check out featuring Jorma. For me, Surrealistic Pillow was the starting point.

Happy birthday, Jorma!

(Lex Neon is the musical mastermind behind the music of indie sunshine pop / rock band Poppermost.  For more info, go to http://www.poppermost.com/)

Note: The date listed on the album shown below is for the remastered version. The original was released February 1967.

Currently listening :
Surrealistic Pillow
By Jefferson Airplane
Release date: 19 August, 2003
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~ by Poppermost on September 6, 2008.

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