Somebody To Love?: A Rock And Roll Memoir, by Grace Slick with Andrea Cagan
I left this book feeling I knew more about Grace Slick than I knew beforehand, but liking her a good deal less, if that was possible. In reading a book like this it was increasingly obvious the way that Grace Slick and I looked at the same moment in history and have come down on very opposite and hostile sides. If this is by no means a terrible book, Slick comes off as not being a very good person, and her lack of any sort of natural or acquired moral sense makes a lot of this particular book and the author’s whining about her failed marriages and relationships and flings to be all the more inevitable and irritating. In reading this book I had to agree with Marty Balin that she wasn’t the sort of girl or woman I would have ever wanted to kiss, much less be with, and I don’t feel upset about that in the least. If, in the future, I think particularly poorly about Grace Slick and her fellow hippie types, it will be from a position of more knowledge but no less sympathy than before. To the extent that one romanticizes this period and Slick’s role in it, the book will read like a gossipy tell-all that shows the author unrepentant and older, if not particularly wiser.
This book is four parts and more than 50 chapters long, covering more than 350 pages of material in total. And what we get is a disciplined (thanks to the co-writer) look at the period from Grace’s childhood and family background, where she came from a decent home and went to a sort of finishing school where she was around a lot of future Republican political brides, but where she clearly harbored a rebellious streak and fell into the life of a rock & roll singer despite very modest abilities as a writer and musician. Most of the book consists of discussions of her life as a bohemian artist in four bands and as a solo artist (Great Society/Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship/Starship), dishing out all kinds of discussion of the band and personal drama of her life. She talks about acting like a single woman when she wasn’t a single woman, sleeping with a lot of rock stars and other crazy people, getting along with stalkers, a lot of time spent dealing with the effects of alcohol and drug addiction and their repercussions, and her inability to respect the authority of police officers. In short, she shows why it is that the political left has always been full of people who lived disordered and ungodly lives, and why those who have sought cultural leadership in our society are totally unworthy of emulation. It’s an honest account, though, for all of the worthlessness of the life that is discussed therein.
The short answer to the titular question is no, the author does not have somebody to love, at least not at the time this book was written. And it appears quite likely that the author was not really somebody to love either. The bitterness of the song that she brought with her from Great Society’s breakup to Jefferson Airplane that became one of their few hits is something that seems to have defined her love life, in that she proved herself at getting into other people’s pants, which is not a hard trick if someone is both physically attractive as she was and willing, as she also was, but had a harder time letting people into her heart. Over and over again, we see her struggle with her own bad behavior, see her happy to sell out in the 1980’s even if she kept on to her own political opinions about desiring to see a more responsive government to her own whims and wishes, and see her unable to stay with people and build a happy and lasting life with them. And ultimately, one cannot find somebody to love without being somebody to love, and the author clearly is not, and so unsurprisingly this book ends with a rather lonely and reflective look at a wasted life full of wasted potential.