Somebody to Love (Jefferson Airplane song)
"Somebody to Love", originally titled "Someone to Love", is a rock song that was written by Darby Slick and originally recorded by 1960s folk rock band The Great Society and later by the psychedelic counterculture rock band Jefferson Airplane. Rolling Stone magazine ranked Jefferson Airplane's version No. 274 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Great Society version
Written by Great Society guitarist Darby Slick after realizing his girlfriend left him, and first performed by that band, which included his then-sister-in-law Grace Slick on vocals, the song made little impact outside of the club circuit in the Bay Area. The song was released in 1966 as a single with the B-side having another Darby Slick composition titled "Free Advice" on the North Beach subsidiary of Autumn Records, and received minimal circulation outside of San Francisco.
Jefferson Airplane version
|"Somebody to Love"|
Subsequent version by Jefferson Airplane, with band member Grace Slick doing lead vocals
|Single by Jefferson Airplane|
|from the album Surrealistic Pillow|
|B-side||"She Has Funny Cars"|
|Released||April 1, 1967|
|Format||Vinyl record (7") 45 RPM|
|Recorded||November 3, 1966|
|Length||3:01 (single version)
4:28 (Great Society version)
|Jefferson Airplane singles chronology|
When Grace Slick departed to join Jefferson Airplane, she took this song with her, bringing it to the Surrealistic Pillow sessions, along with her own composition "White Rabbit". Subsequently, the Airplane's more ferocious rock and roll version became the band's first and biggest success; the single by Jefferson Airplane scored at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.
"Somebody to Love" was also a track on their influential album released in February 1967, Surrealistic Pillow. Driven by Slick's forceful vocal, the song's hard-rock sound was atypical of the group's more folk-oriented psychedelia that comprised most of their previous style and some of the album. The lyrics are in the second person, with each two-line verse setting a scene of alienation and despair, and the chorus repeating the title of the song, with slight variations such as: "... / Don't you need somebody to love? / Wouldn't you love somebody to love? / ..." Like the album on which it appeared, this song was instrumental in publicizing the existence of the Haight-Ashbury counterculture to the rest of the United States.
- Grace Slick – lead vocals
- Marty Balin – tambourine, backing vocals
- Jorma Kaukonen – lead guitar (Gibson ES-335)
- Paul Kantner – rhythm guitar (Rickenbacker 360)
- Jack Casady – bass (Fender Precision Bass)
- Spencer Dryden – drums
Use in media
This version appears in the film version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas when Raoul Duke reminisces about the first time he took LSD at The Matrix club in San Francisco in 1967. The song is also played during prologue in TV movie A Bright Shining Lie (1998), and in A Home at the End of the World (2004).
In the 1996 film The Cable Guy, Jim Carrey performs a karaoke version as his character Ernie "Chip" Douglas. Carrey's version is also on the movie's soundtrack.
The full, vocal version of the song can also be heard on a radio in the beginning of the Paramount film Four Brothers.
The song works as a metaphorical framing device for the Coen brothers' film A Serious Man. The senior Rabbi (Rabbi Marshak) quotes a slightly altered version of the first two lines of the song in his meeting with Danny following Danny's bar mitzvah.
The song is featured in episode five of season two of Being Human as the vampire Mitchell explores his residual humanity, through a relationship with a mortal woman.
The song was played on episode 3 of ITV drama Marchlands.
The song is a downloadable content for Rock Band 3.
Boogie Pimps version
|"Somebody to Love"|
|Single by Boogie Pimps|
|Released||11 January 2004|
|Format||CD single, digital download|
|Producer(s)||Mark J Klak, Mirko Jacob|
|Boogie Pimps singles chronology|
The song is also well known for its iconic music video, which was an instant hit in the UK. It features several infants sky diving out of an aeroplane towards a giant woman (Natasha Mealey) lying on a grassy hill country landscape in her underwear, singing the song. One of the babies cries as his parachute malfunctions and he lands on the woman's breast, causing him to bounce and survive the fall (a possible reference to premature ejaculation). This is proven by the seven babies being apparent before and after the parachute jump, in a star formation, and sitting on her left breast after landing on her waist and breast area. The video ends with the woman taking a giant baby bottle and squirting milk all over the camera.
- Aguaturbia covered the song in 1969 on their self-titled debut LP. Their cover version is titled "Alguien Para Amar".
- The Lambrettas (a British mod-revival band) released "Somebody to Love" as a single on Elton John's Rocket label in 1982.
- Irish band In Tua Nua covered the song in 1985.
- South African Hi-NRG group Café Society covered the song in 1984.
- It was covered by Angry Samoans on their 1986 EP, Yesterday Started Tomorrow (with some lyric changes).
- The Serbian hard rock band Cactus Jack recorded a version on their live cover album DisCover in 2002.
- The song also received cover versions by Mother's Finest.
- Great White covered it in 1992 on their album Psycho City.
- W.A.S.P. in their 1995's album Still Not Black Enough.
- The Ramones (with background vocals by Tracy Lords) on their 1993 cover album Acid Eaters.
- Jim Carrey on the soundtrack of the film The Cable Guy.
- In 2003 by Boogie Pimps (No. 3 UK) with the music video featuring Natasha Mealey.
- Salsoul Orchestra on the album Salsoul Orchestra.
- Kasabian covered it on BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge.
- Lo-Fi artist Zola Jesus covered it, featuring Dead Luke
- Chaud covered the song on her 2010 EP The Black Market Revealed
- Alice Gold covered the song on BBC Radio 2.
- Russian band Mumiy Troll covered the song in 2010.
- Marcella Detroit, as Marcy Levy, covered the song on the American Pop Soundtrack.
- Barbara and Ernie covered the song on their 1971 folk/funk album "Prelude to..."
- Mandy Morton of Spriguns of Tolgus on her 1983 solo album "Valley of Light"