A psychedelic anthem that only the boldest of women in music can do justice to.
Written by Grace Slick in 1967, “White Rabbit” is a celebratory song about psychedelic experimentation. She had originally written the song for her band The Great Society, but its the song she did with Jefferson Airplane that made it big.
Slick was making obvious references to the children’s book Alice in Wonderland as a way to explain the desire to “feed the mind”. From the Rolling Stone feature on the song:
“Our parents read us stories like Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz,” Slick said. “They all have a place where children get drugs, and are able to fly or see an Emerald City or experience extraordinary animals and people… And our parents are suddenly saying, ‘Why are you taking drugs?’ Well, hello!“
“White Rabbit” landed in the top 10 on the Billboard charts and has been featured in numerous films and television. Even if you hadn’t heard of the band, (don’t hurt me), you’ve likely heard the song many times without realizing it.
Although I will say there does seem to be a disparity in the way Slick intended to sing the song, and how you may remember the song being played on screen. Slick seems to be quite positive about the drug taking, in keeping with the spirit of the times, but I only remember seeing it paired with bleak scenes. For example, the song starts playing in A Handmaid’s Tale when June is told to take an unknown pill at a brothel. Or in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, when a character is sitting in a bathtub about to put a radio in the water with him.
The Bangles (1982?)
This was an early recording the infamous 80’s girl group did while just jamming in their garage. They don’t sing the lyrics but rather seem to be having a conversation about something else. Its a great piece of women in rock history though!
Patti Smith (2007)
Another legendary woman in rock, punk icon Patti Smith reads some excerpts from Alice in Wonderland in the beginning of this cover.
If you’re looking for an indie pop vibe, check out this faithful version from New Zealand’s Ladyhawke for an Australian radio show. It will make your inner hipster happy.
Mayssa Karaa (2013)
The 2013 film American Hustle featured an Arabic version of the song by Lebanese-American singer Mayssa Karaa. Having not seen the film, I can’t comment on how it was placed but it is amazing on its own.
I begrudgingly put P!nk on this list because it was recognized by Grace Slick. She recorded the song for Tim Burton’s Alice Through The Looking Glass. I’m just not a P!nk fan because she’s so basic, and it really doesn’t go any further than that.
Don’t do drugs, kids. Just sing about them.