White Rabbit (song)

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"White Rabbit"
White Rabbit label.jpg
Single by Jefferson Airplane
from the album Surrealistic Pillow
B-side"Plastic Fantastic Lover"
ReleasedJune 24, 1967 (1967-06-24)
Format7-inch single
RecordedNovember 3, 1966 (1966-11-03)
StudioRCA, Hollywood, California, U.S.
GenrePsychedelic rock[1]
LabelRCA Victor
Songwriter(s)Grace Slick
Producer(s)Rick Jarrard
Jefferson Airplane singles chronology
"Somebody to Love"
"White Rabbit"
"The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil"
Audio sample

"White Rabbit" is a song written by Grace Slick and recorded by the American rock band Jefferson Airplane for their 1967 album Surrealistic Pillow. It was released as a single and became the band's second top-10 success, peaking at number eight[2] on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was ranked number 478 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time,[3] Number 116 on Rate Your Music's Top Singles of All Time,[4] and appears on The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.


"White Rabbit" was written and performed by Grace Slick while she was still with the Great Society. Slick quit them and joined Jefferson Airplane to replace their departing female singer, Signe Toly Anderson, who left the band with the birth of her child. The first album Slick recorded with Jefferson Airplane was Surrealistic Pillow, and Slick provided two songs from her previous group: her own "White Rabbit" and "Somebody to Love", written by her brother-in-law Darby Slick and recorded under the title "Someone to Love" by the Great Society.[5] The Great Society's version of "White Rabbit" was much longer than the more aggressive version of Jefferson Airplane. Both songs became top-10 hits[6] for Jefferson Airplane and have ever since been associated with that band.[7]

Lyrics and composition[edit]

1967 trade ad for the single

"White Rabbit" is one of Grace Slick's earliest songs, written during either late 1965 or early 1966. It uses imagery found in the fantasy works of Lewis Carroll—1865's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its 1871 sequel Through the Looking-Glass—such as changing size after taking pills or drinking an unknown liquid.

Slick said the composition was supposed to be a slap to parents who read their children such novels and then wondered why their children later used drugs.[8] Characters Slick referenced include Alice, the White Rabbit, the hookah-smoking caterpillar, the White Knight, the Red Queen, and the Dormouse.[9] Slick reportedly wrote the song after an acid trip.[10] For Slick, "White Rabbit" "is about following your curiosity. The White Rabbit is your curiosity".[11] For her and others in the 1960s, drugs were a part of mind expansion and social experimentation. With its enigmatic lyrics, "White Rabbit" became one of the first songs to sneak drug references past censors on the radio. Even Marty Balin, Slick's eventual rival in Jefferson Airplane, regarded the song as a "masterpiece." In interviews, Slick has related that Alice in Wonderland was often read to her as a child and remained a vivid memory well into her adulthood.[3]

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Slick mentioned that, in addition to Alice in Wonderland, her other inspiration for the song was Ravel's Boléro. Like Boléro, "White Rabbit" is essentially one long crescendo. The music combined with the song's lyrics strongly suggests the sensory distortions experienced with hallucinogens, and the song was later used in pop culture to imply or accompany just such a state.[12]

Music video[edit]

The music video, released in 1967 and directed by horror and thriller movie director Ray Dennis Steckler, features a woman played by Carolyn Brandt, Steckler's frequent collaborator, evocatively moving around a beach, a rock, and through waves while there are other parts intercut of a caterpillar, a chess piece, and the band's album cover while the song plays.[citation needed]

Chart history[edit]

Cashbox[20] (11 weeks): 59, 45, 23, 14, 12, 11, 8, 6, 7, 22, 41



Many artists have covered the song. Among the more notable examples are:

In media[edit]

"White Rabbit" has been quoted in various books and featured in numerous films and television shows.


Film and television[edit]

  • The song was used in the 1986 film Platoon (1986)
  • It appears in the 1997 film The Game (1997), both during the film and during the end credits.
  • It is used as the final credits theme song in the 2018 indie horror movie Rabbit (2018)
  • The song was used in the episode “Jezebels” (Season 1, Episode 8) of the Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale.
  • The song was used in the episode "Midnight RX" (Season 16, Episode 6) of the TV show The Simpsons.
  • Richard Nixon's disembodied head on Bender's body sings the song in the Futurama episode "A Head in the Polls", ending the song by saying, "I'm meeting you halfway, you smelly hippies!"
  • The song was used in the episode "Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers" (Season 1, Episode 1) of Netflix's Stranger Things.
  • The song was used in the 1998 film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas when Dr. Gonzo, Benicio del Toro’s character, is attempting to commit suicide in a bathtub.
  • The song was used in the 2011 film Sucker Punch.
  • The song appears in the 2017 film Kong: Skull Island.
  • The song is used in The Secret Life of Pets 2, when Chloe the cat is on catnip.
  • The song is used in commercial for Celebrity Cruise "A Celebrity Cruises passenger experiences an Alice in Wonderland-inspired journey through the ship's amenities"


  1. ^ Myers, Marc (May 31, 2016). "How Jefferson Airplane's Grace Slick Wrote 'White Rabbit'". International Times. Retrieved July 21, 2016.
  2. ^ "Top 100 Music Hits, Top 100 Music Charts, Top 100 Songs & The Hot 100". Billboard.com. Retrieved July 8, 2011.
  3. ^ a b "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". December 9, 2004. Archived from the original on June 22, 2008. Retrieved August 7, 2011.
  4. ^ "Top Singles of All-time". Rate Your Music. Retrieved October 30, 2012.
  5. ^ "Darby Slick Puts Original Lyrics Up For Sale". Jambands.com.
  6. ^ "Billboard – Jefferson Airplane". Billboard.com.
  7. ^ Tamarkin, Jeff, ed. (2003). Got a revolution!:the turublent flight of Jefferson Airplane. Atria. p. 113. ISBN 0-671-03403-0. Retrieved April 30, 2011.
  8. ^ "Biography – Grace Slick". Jeffersonairplane.con. Archived from the original on 2017-05-07. Retrieved 2015-01-31.
  9. ^ "White Rabbit Lyrics". Metrolyrics.com.
  10. ^ Hughes, Rob (October 29, 2016). "The Story Behind The Song: White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane". TEAMROCK.COM. Retrieved 2017-08-02.
  11. ^ Myers, Marc. "She Went Chasing Rabbits". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
  12. ^ Robert Dimery (1 October 2015). 1,001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die (First ed.). Cassell. ISBN 978-1844038800.
  13. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1967-08-05. Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  14. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  15. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 8/12/67". Tropicalglen.com. Archived from the original on 28 November 2018. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  16. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Jefferson Airplane" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  17. ^ "RPM Top 100 Singles of 1967". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Archived from the original on 12 August 2016. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  18. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1967/Top 100 Songs of 1967". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  19. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles - 1967". Tropicalglen.com. Retrieved 12 May 2019.[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ Hoffmann, Frank (1983). The Cash Box Singles Charts, 1950–1981. Metuchen, NJ & London: The Scarecrow Press, Inc. p. 303.
  21. ^ "The Zarkons - Riders In The Long Black Parade". Discogs.com. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  22. ^ "Ladyhawke - 'White Rabbit' (Jefferson Airplane cover triple j's Like A Version)". YouTube. 2012-07-20. Retrieved 2019-03-24.
  23. ^ "Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland Soundtrack Track List Released". Flavorwire. 2010-01-12. Retrieved 2019-06-15.
  24. ^ "Go Ask Alice Soundtrack". IMDb.com. Retrieved July 29, 2017.
  25. ^ Lanier, Jaron (July 2010). "Early Computing's Long, Strange Trip. What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry. John Markoff" (Book review). American Scientist. Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society. 93 (4). Scientists' Nightstand > Bookshelf Detail. Retrieved June 26, 2015. John Markoff's What the Dormouse Said (the title is taken from the lyrics of the Jefferson Airplane song "White Rabbit") tells the story of the important period when the personal computer and the Internet as we know them came into being. He also describes how a new culture of drugs, sex and rock and roll was created at the same time as the computers, sometimes in the same rooms, by some of the same people.
  26. ^ Thompson, Hunter S.,. Fear and loathing in Las Vegas : a savage journey to the heart of the American dream. Steadman, Ralph (Second Vintage Books ed.). New York. ISBN 0679785892. OCLC 41049769.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link) CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

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