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*6.12-WILD TYME (Jefferson Airplane)

Jefferson Airplane

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[Intro]

It's a wild time!
I see people all around me changing faces.
It's a wild time!
I'm doing things that haven't got a name yet!

     I need love, your love;
     It don't matter if it's rain or shine.

[Break]

It's a wild time! (6x)
I'm here for you any old time.

     Stay here, play here;
     Make a place for yourself here.

          I want to be with you, no matter what I do;
          What doesn't change is the way I feel for you today.
          Times just seem so good; I do know that I should
          Be here with you this way.

     And it's new, and it’s new, and it’s oh so new.
     I see changes, changes, all around me are changes.

It's a wild time! (4x)

[Coda]


Wild Tyme and other misspellings in the titles of After Bathing at Baxter’s (like Rejoyce) emulate the wordplay of James Joyce, one of the literary figures who would influence psychedelic music (especially the early works of Van Dyke Parks). The song begins with a defined guitar riff, but after the break, the riff is dropped. The C section, in a different time signature, seems to sprout out of nowhere, an unexpected change that resolves itself after many transitions only by returning to a repetition of the main thought—that “It’s a wild time!” Jorma Kaukonen puts down some bitching guitar licks in this record that manage to improvise without repetition, another demonstration of the changes, where in almost every line (and especially in the instrumental sections) he introduces something new.

Wild Tyme contains one of my favorite lines out of all the lyrics of the psychedelic era: “I’m doing things that haven’t got a name yet!” According to Matthew Greenwald, who wrote about Wild Tyme on the website allmusic, Paul Kantner was thinking of a new as yet unnamed version of LSD being passed around at the time. But I believe there was also a sexual interpretation to this, as at this time so much of sexuality had been kept in the dark by having little language for discussing it, especially when indicating specific sexual acts. Part of the “wild time” was that sexual experimentation was beginning to be practiced at a community level. Though feminism and gay rights were as yet in a nascent stage in late 1967, experiments with several partners and communally shared women were beginning to loosen the religious stronghold on sexual behavior which would allow the development of these ideas of personal freedom into liberation movements within the next few years.

A less striking, yet remarkable lyric, in Wild Tyme is “I see people all around me changing faces.” The normal way of saying this would replace “faces” with “places”, changing situation or role, but not identity. However the lyric seems appropriate for what the song wishes to express. It echoes Bob Dylan’s Desolation Row: “I had to rearrange their faces and give them all a different name.” That is, the challenge of psychedelia was to not only rethink what culture had defined, but to rethink one’s own sense of identity--to allow the joy of personal freedom to show through instead of performing predetermined societal roles.

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