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6.14-TWO HEADS (Jefferson Airplane)

Grace Slick
Grace Slick

LISTEN

You want two heads on your body.
And you've got two mirrors in your hand.

Priests are made of brick with gold crosses on a stick
And your nose is too small for this land.

     Inside your head is your town,
     Inside your room your jail
     Inside your mouth the elephants trunk
     And booze the only key to your bail.

Two heads can be put together.
And you can fill both your feet with sand.
No one will know you've gutted your mind
But what will you do with your bloody hands?

     Your lions are fighting with chairs,
     Your arms are incredibly fat;
     Your women are tired of dying alive
     If you've had any women at that.

Wearing your comb like an axe in your head.
Listening for signs of life.
Children are sucking on stone and lead
And chasing their hoops with a knife.

     New breasts and jewels for the girl,
     Keep them polished and shining;
     Put a lock on her belly at night. Sweet life
     For no child of mine.

[Refrain]


Two Heads evokes for me the cubist artwork of Pablo Picasso, who young people seemed to have less problem understanding than the older generation did. The song seems to take Picasso's aggression toward women and aim it back on men from a woman's point of view. The angry tone of Grace Slick's voice hurling insults at some pathetic man she seems to loathe suggests that the song may have something to do with duplicity of character, but it's not a lover she's singing to; she wouldn't have allowed the man to touch her. The last verse seems to bear a reflection on bearing a daughter in marriage, a thought the singer can't accept. It's unbearable that a husband could "put a lock on [my] belly at night".

The song structure is comprised of simple A and B quatrains with a refrain, greatly changed in its melody, that comes around at the end. In all quatrains the last two lines are sung with more impetus than the first two. There are quite a few psychedelic effects. The leading bars are played with an electronic harpsichord. In the A quatrain, the snare drum is kept up front counting 1-2, 1-2 broken up with drum rolls. The B quatrain is quieter, and brings back the harpsichord and Casady's bassline. Sometimes it sounds like Marty Balin may be singing another song along with Grace Slick in the B section in the manner of Simon & Garfunkel's Scarborough Fair, but Balin's words escape comprehension. When the song returns to the refrain, the final words are drawn out into long Arabic melisma. Slick’s voice blends into drone inducing electronic feedback.

Now I agree, this might be a bit excessively weird. Matthew Greenwald wrote for allmusic that "Jefferson Airplane could always count on Grace Slick to deliver a quirky piece of musical sarcasm for their albums, and Two Heads certainly fits the bill." Normally, I would wince at such a statement, but for this song, I agree with Greenwald. Nonetheless, I find it an interesting piece of classical psychedelia, not as ambitious or successful as the Beatles' I Am The Walrus, but a song of similar strangeness and absurdity.


COMMENTS

Roland Topor: Comb like an AxeThere was an illustrator/writer named Roland Topor who had a little book of drawings called "Panic" and it was published by City Lights books in Frisco (1965). The song lyrics just describe the surrealist drawings in the book. The Topor illustration on the left was inspiration for the line Wearing your comb like an axe in your head.[Charles O'Meara: www.crowhoho.weebly.com]

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