Another veteran musician shuffles off this mortal coil, off to “hijack a starship” into the great unknown.
Paul Kantner was always one of the most adventurous and forward thinking of the 60s “hippie generation.” Always trying to tear down the walls through music and ideas: the walls put up by the status quo, backwards politicians, and staid society. He provided a lot of the edge in Jefferson Airplane’s approach to music. When Jefferson Starship moved way over into the mainstream in the 70s, one could always count on Kantner to keep things a bit more interesting with his science fiction interests.
His taste for science fiction merged well with his vision of a utopia – a utopia he never seemed to quite give up on, even well after the Summer of Love, as we hear in a later song called “The Light”. A song of “sex and metaphysics”, as I think I read him refer to it once, it’s full of quotable lines such as “Go out and stuff the universe into your eyes”.
I saw the reformed version of Jefferson Starship in the early 90s a few times at an outdoor venue in St. Petersburg, FL called Janus Landing, when they were going by the slightly cheesy moniker of “Jefferson Starship: Next Generation” (named after the Star Trek series). Made up of a good number of original Jefferson Airplane/Starship members including Jack Cassidy and Marty Balin, they were pretty hot. It struck me at the time, though, for someone who conveyed such idealism and belief in a shining possible future through his music, how he often looked like he had a bad hangover and was always chain smoking cigarettes.
The Paul Kantner image that stays with me is from a time when I arrived at one of those 90s shows early. While standing in line to buy a ticket, I saw Kantner leave the behind-stage building and walk on down the empty street alone, a bit grizzled, stubby cigarette in hand, into the golden setting sun.
”Like matter and energy ideas shape the sky of the future years” – “The Light”