Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 20. 1972
Paul Kantner — Sunfighter
Paul Kantner — Sunfighter
Paul Kantner a Weatherman? That guy who wrote We can Be Together? Yep, the same P. Kantner, who hijacked Jefferson Airplane off Marty Balin and made it into the thinking man's rock band, writing right on lyrics and tunes you couldn't even whistle; revolutionary, challenging stuff that for all its pretentiousness was the finest American rock music of the Sixties. What makes Kantner's passage from liberalism to wrathful radicalism pretty interesting are the elements he's added to the typical radical stance of the Volunteers L.P.
On Blows Against The Empire he laid down a vision of release, of escape from the pain and ugliness of now.
America hales her crazies, so you got to let go, hijack a starship, make a new world on it, 7000 gypsy wanderers sailing through the cities of the universe... with free minds, free bodies, free dope, free music...
On Sunfighter this escape becomes a flight into nothingness, a real death wish, two songs are for Diana Oughton, one of those rich kids who blew themselves to pieces with their home made bombs a couple of years ago in New York.
sing a song for the children going down
as you cut down your children now
and leave them dying on the grass in the sun.
Other tracks sing about running free with the wolf-pack, flashing down to take the town and its children, of saying finally goodbye to the San Francisco Dream, (remember what we sang in America, how we danced so many years ago?) and welcoming the crazies; the last lines again say goodbye to the earth as we go, go into nova (a nova being a star that self destructs in one glorious burst of energy).
Kantner sings about impotence and rage and the yearning to escape; all part of our growing realisation that the old images of revolution have no meaning for this age, there is no capital city whose conquest will yield victory, no working class ready to rise, we have no precedents in history and can have little confidence in our ability to change an increasingly ruthless, omnipotent establishment. It is clear that America (the country and the idea) is a globel exploiter which must be destroyed so the world can live, and the enemy has become whoever gets in the way. In an inability to strike at the heart of America the movement has turned on immediate, vaguely symbolic objects, buildings, banks, embassies. This rage comes from the realisation that those treasured Western freedoms — free speech, free assembly, a right to privacy, to the process of law, — don't mean shit to most of the public and even less to the Government, for our Western sense of freedom has always had more to do with an urge to individualism as expressed through business, than with the fulfillment of human potential. Moreover have tried to rouse a silent majority that has willingly ceded a monopoly on politics to the government; the people may vote, or not vote, but political action, assembly, a demonstration is wrong, antisocial; good citizens mind their own business, it is held a virtue to let the government take care of things which ordinary citizens cannot hope to understand. This distrust and fear of "Unofficial" political action, political speech and political men as the constituency which authorises by the weight of its silence, the official acts of repression and aggression.
In this climate it is not surprising that Western radicals are perhaps the first revolutionaries to hate their own country and to cut themselves off from its traditions - the death wish that permeates Weatherman ideology and this album is that it is better to die in the streets than to simply fade away, thus we have provocation and suicidal action Amidst all this, Jerry Garcia plays on.