September 29, 2018

"Her neon mouth with the blinkers-off smile/Nothing but an electric sign/You could say she has an individual style/She's part of a colorful time..."

The colorful time was the 1960s and Marty Balin was a transcendent voice...



Marty Balin, dead at 76. Here's the the NYT obituary by Jon Pareles.
[Grace] Slick was often singled out for attention, and she sang lead on “White Rabbit” and “Somebody to Love,” the 1967 hits that made the band national headliners. “I always let everybody else take the credit,” Mr. Balin told High Times magazine in 2000. “Grace was the most beautiful girl in rock at the time, so they gave her credit for everything.” In the documentary film “Monterey Pop,” when Mr. Balin sings his ballad “Today,” the camera instead shows Ms. Slick, who was mouthing the words with him. Mr. Balin quit Jefferson Airplane in 1971....

76 comments:

Unknown said...

Today and Comin' Back to Me are two of my all time favorites.

-sw

AZ Bob said...

If only you believe like I believe
We'd get by

Чикелит said...

Those Bay Area women are pretty slick, mouthing the words of others and getting away with it.

Lindsey said...

Wow. You’d think she’d have more self-respect.

MadisonMan said...

My sister, who is the same year as Althouse, had Surrealistic Pillow, and I played it a lot. Plastic Fantastic Lover was great. But I liked to sing along to 'Someone to love' -- this was before my voice changed, and I had a great soprano.

Steve M. Galbraith said...

Yes, "Coming Back to Me" is my favorite Balin song. Do young men and women love each now to understand that? God, I hope so.

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

I've always like the songs like "Miracles"-- Marty's great vocals and all before Grace showed up.

Dave Begley said...

I loved both the Starship and Airplane. Marty's and Grace's voices blended so well.

Jupiter said...

She is mouthing the words on the first verse, but sings on the second. I would say they didn't actually work out separate parts, like the Beatles always did, they both just sang the song the way they heard it. He goes for a sepulchral sweetness, she uses more rasp and growl. She could crack the whip with her voice when she wanted to, here she's a little restrained. Like she knows its his song.

Bay Area Guy said...

Godspeed, Mr. Balin.

Played some great music in the 60s. Too bad the lefty Hippies used it cause so much societal wreckage.

Kate said...

I don't think so. Grace is singing. You can tell by her throat movement. On the second verse you can hear her on harmony. They just didn't have her mic turned on for the first verse.

#fakenews

sodal ye said...

No Grace Slick performance compares to Woodstock. Such a young girl, such drugged up confidence. After that, just pop.

Also that was Joe Cocker’s finest and most manic hour. Both on YouTube. Come to think of it, “the gimp” on drums for Carlos Santana there was stunning too. But for really fine outdoor performances back at the dawn if time, nothing, nothing, compares to the insane and brilliant Arthur Brown at Glastonbury.

Then there was a innovation gap. The next really epic moment was later, ELP, and the Who at the Isle of Wight.

I saw Pink Floyd at a very elite boys school I attended in England, back when it was Ummagumma being played at high schools. Then, after Atom Heart Mother they went to shit.

Darrell said...

It makes him sound petty and jealous. And the money was flowing into his pocket, too.

sodal ye said...

*excuse the typos. Candlelight in Namibia. Springbok steak coming up.

Carol said...

Comin Back to Me, for sure.

But I spent way too much time listening to that stuff. Shoulda been studying.

glenn said...

Grace had great legs too.

Carol said...

Grace Slick later wrote that she was older than most the band and more of a drinker. She felt rather out of it and probably toked and took LSD to fit in of course. But really booze was her thing. Like Janis.

Funny that.

Roughcoat said...

at a very elite boys school I attended in England . . . Candlelight in Namibia. Springbok steak coming up.

Oh good grief.

Darkisland said...

I liked Marty's singing well enough.

Still, nobody could sing "up against the wall, motherfuckers" as sweetly as Grace Slick.

John Henry

Jupiter said...

...and forgive us our harmless pretensions, as we forgive those whose pretensions amuse us.

sodal ye said...

Roughcoat said... Oh good grief

I won’t apologize. Anyone with a modest amount of money can make the same choices.

I provide Ann with these cool location pings on her Google Analytics. Wifi? Nope. Pairing my iPad off cell, as usual, it’s sometimes a struggle going out of my way to read Althouse comments. It’s the only site I frequent. A strange addiction.

Fernandistein said...

Didn't Balin get punched onstage @Altamont, as filmed in "Gimme Shelter"?

Fernandistein said...

Here --> 4:27

I think the black guy ("Meredith"?) going nuts dancing got stabbed to death a few hours later.

J. Farmer said...

My old business partner and mentor was traveling along the California coast in the late 1960s. He happened upon a coastal town and discovered they were hosting a music festival. It turned out to be the Monterey Pop Festival. Despite featuring the likes of The Who and Jimi Hendrix, his most vivid memories were of Janis Joplin in a mini skirt, of hating Big Brother and the Holding Company, and of falling absolutely in love with Grace Slick. The latter seemed to be a perennial problem for the men of the band as well.

Fernandistein said...

@5:25 Slick demonstrates her ass-kissing lameness: "People get weird and you need people like the Angels to keep them in line" by punching people in your own band, and beating the audience with pool cues because they looked at your stupid POS motorcycle the wrong way. Jeebus. Never liked her or her singing much at all.

But the amazing little tune by Jorma Kaukonen, never fails to make my mane stand up.

Fernandistein said...

Why would I remember the name of Meredith Hunter?

EDH said...

Fernandistein said...
I think the black guy ("Meredith"?) going nuts dancing got stabbed to death a few hours later.

No, that guy was in a green polyester suit.

Slick: "You gotta keep your bodies off each other unless you intend love."

Brett Kavanaugh should try that defense!

surfed said...

All those records and bands meant so much to me. I could play a lot of those songs on guitar back then. Was it really that long ago? Sigh... Rest in peace Marty...

sodal ye said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Cracker Emcee Rampant said...

Today has aged a lot better than the standards like White Rabbit. Come Up the Years is also a sweet song but is perhaps problematic...today.

Mid-Life Lawyer said...

I wonder if Marty ever got over being victimized by the patriarchy's preference for the attractive female lead singer?

William said...

It was gracious of him to say that Grace Slick was the best looking woman in rock.

robother said...

Before Bad Lip Reading there was Bad Lip Synching.

Bad Lieutenant said...

sodal ye said...
Roughcoat said... Oh good grief

I won’t apologize. Anyone with a modest amount of money can make the same choices.

No, sod, apologize for being incredibly tedious. You add nothing. The only thing I could believe from your shtick is that you like dark meat, and only because you can get it cheap.

Dr Weevil said...

I remember two things about the Monterey Pop Festival. (I was in 8th grade, living in military housing at the Naval Postgraduate School, where my father was finishing a B.S.) 1. The dull roar from the festival coming over the hill kept me awake much of the night. 2. The whole family went to the festival the next day, and I have a vague memory of something like a county fair, with booths and cotton candy and such, along with vivid memories of huge piles of trash. I only later realized that I'd just missed something that would later be famous.

Roughcoat said...

I won’t apologize.

Don't ever apologize. We're in an Irish pub on the South Side of Chicago. Waiting for a pint of Guinness. You apologize, you get your shit punched.

Roughcoat said...

Tough crowd, sure.

Psota said...

He was great. The rest of the band had more charisma or musical skills but Balin really brought the magic. Whenever he left the band, they would fall apart. They could still tour and put out records but the creativity would disappear with him.

rightguy said...

JA was Marty's band and it was formidable : three unique and good singer-songwriters fronting a very strong instrumental section. In their day, they were the best. I saw them live more than once and they had a fantastic show with great songs expanded by energetic improvisation.

But in the final analysis, they were a hippie band singing too much about hippie-dippie stuff and radical/Abbie Hoffman politics. My own view is that the hippie movement was a bust; intellectually and spiritually bankrupt. Except for some music during a brief period (66-70), it was artistically bankrupt as well. Maybe I missed all the great hippie novels.

George Leroy Tirebiter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wild chicken said...

Maybe I missed all the great hippie novels.

I remember, "Words just can't describe, man..."

Especially when you're inarticulate.

George Leroy Tirebiter said...

After Bathing At Baxters is easily my fave JA lp. As an almost 17 year old was fortunate to see/hear them 2 weeks before Woodstock at the Atlantic City Pop Festival, where the weather was sunny & fortunately my memories not ruined by some stupid movie.

Here is Marty's first single from 1962, of the mainstream pop pre-Beatles variety. Not bad at all.

Marty Balin - I Specialize In Love

Etienne said...

The funny thing was, later in life he looked more like an insurance salesman.

m stone said...

Grace Slick mesmerized me and a lot of other students in a packed podunk NY college (Clarkson) gymnasium in 1968. Airplane was touring on the college circuit. Great performance. She was stoned, for sure. I was not.

Slick today bears little physical resemblance to the GS of 1968.

m

The Crack Emcee said...

AZ Bob said...

"If only you believe like I believe
We'd get by"


I didn't know who that was. It was one of those "white" songs from high school that cut through the clutter to leave a vague impression. It was part of my LA Valley experience, so I'd never have associated it with San Francisco's music scene. (It would've changed the times I bumped into Paul Kantner a lot.) They did good there. Beautiful song.

The Crack Emcee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Crack Emcee said...

BTW - For those of you who hate Rap, that's practically what he's doing in that "Plastic" clip, but just to Rock instead of digital instruments.

Stop the hypocrisy.

gg6 said...

Yes, and even this post headline makes more of Slick than it does of him - just as in Life, yes?
Meanwhile, I've seen not a peep from musical cover girl Grace in tribute to this guy that arguably brought her fame etc etc.
Maybe she hated him? maybe that's why her very lengthy Wikipedia bio never even mentions him once. Or maybe she's just pissed at him stealing her thunder by dying first. Or maybe she doesn't want any current photos of herself published?
I think the FBI needs to investigate all this.

William Chadwick said...

"Her neon mouth with the blinkers-off smile" somehow reminds me of Alexandria ("Crazy Eyes") Ocasio-Cortez.

FullMoon said...

Grace came from high society.

FullMoon said...

..and, Great Society

William said...

Doris Day is way hotter than Vera Lynn. Among the centenarian, she is undoubtedly the hottest pop singer......Grace Slick might be better looking now than Linda Ronstaft, but I would have given Linda the edge back in '68. Joan Baez is now the best looking singer of her generation. I bet you didn't see that coming.

sodal ye said...

Bad Lieutenant said... The only thing I could believe from your shtick is that you like dark meat, and only because you can get it cheap.

You were doing fine until you lost it with this.

William said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
William said...

Jane Fonda is holding it together pretty well. She's no Betty White, but she looks good. I doubt the existence of God.

Tim Wolter said...

BALIN SON OF FUNDIN
LORD OF MORIA

'He is dead then,' said Frodo. 'I feared it was so.' Gimli cast his hood over his face.

Bad Lieutenant said...

sodal ye said...

You were doing fine until you lost it with this.
9/29/18, 4:03 PM


Your brag, not mine. I've just made you understand what you sound like.

PM said...

In SF, Paul Kantner used to have coffee everyday at an espresso place in North Beach. He'd sit in the same chair outside by the newspaper rack. Asked him why he liked sitting there. "So I can keep my eye on Chinatown."

Douglas said...

For a brief moment in the late 1960s, the Jefferson Airplane were the best rock band in the world. Marty and Paul, we miss you. RIP.

KK said...

TODAY was my wedding song in 1991, it was written when I was 4!. Perfectly captures being in love, forever! I listen to it every year on our anniversary and sometimes make my husband dance with me, lol.

Ambrose said...

Great talent. Played Surrealistic Pillow tonight - what an album.

Bob R said...

Just finished Jorma's new autobiography. Jorma gives Marty lots of complements and credit. (Jorma comes off as a very generous, likable person. Has good things to say about all of his colleagues.) Unfortunately, he is reluctant to really analyze anyone other than himself. "That's his/her story to tell" get repeated. I don't know Marty (or Jack! or Grace) much better than I did before reading the book.

Stephen Cooper said...

I liked the way Steve Perry riffed on "Jane" when he did "Oh Sherrry".

Most guys would like to have a really good tenor voice if they could, although most nerdy guys see themselves more as "guitar gods' than a guy who can really sing. That is sad. Singing is better than playing an instrument.

Hard to like the Jefferson Airplane, although they may have been good people, individually, they did not seem to care enough about the human collateral damage of their good times as rich kids with recreational drugs that are safe for rich people but fatal for folks without a lot of money. While the lower middle class kids and poor kids died in their thousands.

Depending on where you live, you might be able to walk through a graveyard and see all those tombstones of people born from the mid-40s to the late 50s who did not have the cash to stay alive for long when they got into the drug scene too hard. Probably not, though ... I mean, who walks through graveyards and notices that sort of thing? As for me, I live in a place where all the graveyards are fairly new. The big ones, anyway. So even I don't notice ....

And no the music is not good enough to be worth the exchange. No music would have been.

cathy said...

Marty and Grace singing together was sublime and wild. They seemed so free in their harmonies. The Takes Off album though was Balin's and so great. DCBA25

Stephen Cooper said...

and yes I know who sung "Jane" and it wasn't Marty Balin

Jay Elink said...

William said...
It was gracious of him to say that Grace Slick was the best looking woman in rock.
**********

Stevie Nicks. Smokin' hot.

Whew.

I'll be in my bunk.

Temujin said...

I can vaguely remember more then a few late hashed-out nights listening to Jefferson Starship's, 'Blows Against the Empire' (Have you seen the stars tonight). Balin wasn't on that album, but early JA was what had me listening to that album a few years later. And even later, seeing Marty, Grace, et. al. as the more mainstream Starship in concert warmed up by Flo & Eddie. (great concert).

Balin had a great influence on a great influential musical style that came out of NoCal in those days.

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tim in vermont said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tim in vermont said...

Most guys would like to have a really good tenor voice if they could, although most nerdy guys see themselves more as "guitar gods' than a guy who can really sing. That is sad. Singing is better than playing an instrument.

Yeah, but singing chooses whom it likes, though there are lots of guys who get by in the music industry on just an OK voice.

Mazo Jeff said...

First album,"Jefferson Airplane Takes Off" and last(?) "KBC" were his best!!

Bad Lieutenant said...

tim in vermont said...Steve Cooper said...

Most guys would like to have a really good tenor voice if they could

I'm good with my resonant baritone that has voice professionals coming over to me and asking me if I'm working, but you do you.

Stephen Cooper said...

Bad Lieutenant - I hear you. I would rather be a baritone than a tenor, but I am not most guys. Vocally, I am closer to a baritone than a tenor - my brother, a much better singer than me, but with basically the same vocal equipment, got baritone roles in amateur Gilbert and Sullivan and Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals anytime he wanted. He gave that up because he did not like "theater people" of the 70s. Anyway, when I was a kid I played the baritone horn and I now play the euphonium, another baritone instrument - not often, but I do play it in tune when I do play it.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Honestly, do you think that most guys think about what kind of voice they want to have, or even know? I only know I have a baritone because a gay friend complimented me on my "Russian baritone." I do know that people like my voice which would really seem to be the only thing that matters.

Michael The Magnificent said...

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don't do anything at all
Go ask Alice
When she's ten feet tall

Stephen Cooper said...

Bad Lietuenant - yes, to answer your question, I honestly think so. When I write something, I write it because I honestly think it. That is what people who want to be virtuous do.

I could tell you a lot of things about what guys think.

The 4 star in charge of the USAF when I was a captain thought the guys who performed in the bagpiper group were mostly gay. He was mostly wrong, and his wife was ugly, and he could have had a hot wife, but he was sort of gay himself, and did not know how to judge women. Most of the bagpipers were less gay than him. I know that. Did you know that? I doubt it.

Look, Bad Lieutenant, I don't know what your problem is. Do you really think that I care to be instructed by you - whom I don't know - about what guys think? I have more military medals than 99 percent of the guys who were born the year I was born. I have been in fights, I have been a leader in difficult real-world situations. I get it that you are worried that thinking about things like whether one is a baritone or a tenor is a big deal , and that thinking about such things might make you less of a man - but don't worry. We all know you are not gay, and I don't care that you think the weird things you think about people who know the difference between a baritone and a tenor.

And don't be rude, some people understand music. It is not your fault that you don't. Music is a big deal, just like football or whatever manly pursuits you think are manly.

When the Beatles were forming, Lennon was sort of gay - he got excited about his relationships with other dudes, and knocked out one of his friends over an insult that real men would have laughed at - and McCartney was just amazed with women, and did not understand why Lennon got so overworked about other dudes and the drama people like Lennon wanted to create with other dudes. McCartney looks and sounds a lot less masculine than me or you, I guarantee you that (at least about me) but he was a good husband to his wife, was never gay, never gave any of his girlfriends gay STDs (although I assume he suffered from the clap a few times)

Think a little bit more before you insult people you don't know. Lieutenant. You will be a better man for it. Man up, dude.