9.14-IF YOU FEEL (Jefferson Airplane)

Jefferson Airplane



If you feel like china breaking
If you feel like laughing
Break china laughing
Break china laughing, laughing, laughing.

If you feel like leaves a-falling
If you feel like smiling
Fall leaves smiling
Fall leaves smiling, smiling, smiling.

If you feel like love making
If you feel like flying
Make love flying, baby,
Make love flying, flying, flying.

        Got down--
        Not the first time you know;
        Got down
        Got up to go!


[Repeat 1st verse with 7 repetitions of “laughing”]


If You Feel continues with the message of Share a Little Joke, this time with jaunty simple acoustic chord changes and minimal lyrics. The song advises that in adversity you need to follow your feelings, and perhaps bring two disparate things together in the form of an incongruous joke. The song encourages disruption of the conventional, especially in the first verse, with the suggestion to “break china”, to take something considered precious to uptight society (or the previous generation) and rid oneself of it. However painful the lack of respect for this precious object may be to one’s elders, it means little to the Airplane’s supposed audience and can be destroyed on a lark. It encourages behavior similar to an adolescent blowing up a mailbox with a cherry bomb, but in this case is linked to an anti-materialism which will free the spirit. Unattached to objects, one can see the humor, the triviality of many supposed precious things.

This is a great song for Jorma Kaukonen to display his mastery of the wah-wah pedal in playing the lead guitar. The very sound of a wah-wah suggests a joke, something similar to fluttering a plate over a trumpet to produce a mocking sound when Wily Coyote is again foiled by the Road Runner, or Goofy gets a dripping pie in the face on TV—turning adversity into fun. Maybe this is why it is rumored that the wah-wah was introduced to pop music by humorist Frank Zappa. Of course, in the hands of Eric Clapton the wah-wah could be made to weep, and in the hands of Hendrix it could suggest warp speed through intergalactic space. Kaukonen wasn’t limited to using wah-wah pedal for embellishing a joke, but he’d certainly found an effective use for it here.