Music Literature Film Index About

Oar, Skip Spence

Columbia Records, Sundazed, May 19, 1969

Track Listing: 1. Little Hands, 2. Cripple Creek, 3. Diana, 4. Margaret/Tiger Rug, 5. Weighted Down (The Prison Song), 6. War in Peace, 7. Broken Heart, 8. All Come to Meet Her, 9. Books of Moses, 10. Dixie Peach Promenade (Yin for Yang), 11. Lawrence of Euphoria, 12. Grey/Afro

Wake up. You’re in the eye of the storm. Under the tongue, the past dissolves into schizophrenia. Puzzle pieces scatter in a maze of hallucinations. Jefferson Airplane, an axe, Moby Grape, Bellevue, an oar. Put them together and gaze into the abyss. A tie-die rainbow bleeds across the sky.

What a long strange trip those San Frannies were on. For Skip Spence, it started with Jefferson Airplane where he magically morphed into a drummer on their first release, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. The extent of his drumming prior to the Airplane was in high school band. Next stop, Moby Grape, as a guitarist naturally. Need a bass player? From there, the story gets a bit Barrettized: acid, more acid, too much acid, hallucinations, the axe incident—oh, that axe incident. And Bellevue. While there, all of Oar comes to Spence in visions so vivid that, as legend has it, upon his release, he promptly gets on his motorcycle and takes his guitar straight to Nashville where he immediately puts it all down over the course of the next few days, recording all the instruments and vocals himself of course. Why waste time trying to translate to studio musicians all that that was inside him?

What a strange trip indeed. It all came together to give such vibrant, magically delicate results. Paint a picture of how it looks in the eye of the storm. Step right up, don’t be shy. Just follow the roadmap of one lost creature’s journey inside the kaleidoscope. There are infinite trails. Like this one. Follow it. Or that one. It celebrates beauty. Or take the one that lets you hide from heartbreak completely, the one that lets you hide inside all the pretty colors, the fragile species of shapes and forms and receiving eyes. Wake up, wake up, wake up. . . .

Are you dreaming?