Podcast with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Jorma Kaukonen, coming to Kirk Avenue Music Hall on Saturday
Digital recording brings perfection closer these days. At least that’s how it seems on the surface. But Jorma Kaukonen, who comes to Kirk Avenue Music Hall on Saturday, inspires a great question: How much beautiful imperfection winds up squeezed out of the music folks are making today?
In our interview to advance the Kirk Ave. show, I asked Kaukonen about Jefferson Airplane’s enduring appeal. That act — which rose up in the mid-1960s to help define psychedelic rock and eventually to propel its members into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — is mostly famous for the song’s “White Rabbit” and “Someone To Love.” “Surrealistic Pillow,” the album that spawned both of those songs, was recorded to a four-track machine with no noise reduction. Overdubs had to be minimal, lest the sound be degraded.
That lack of overdubs forced the band to keep in something that Kaukonen would originally have preferred not make the final cut.
“On the end of ‘Somebody to Love,’ there’s a little out vamp where I’m playing against the changes, and then that last couple of bars, there’s a thing that’s a little bit out of tune, that I thought was a mistake at the time,” Kaukonen said in a phone call today. “But then over the years, it’s become iconic, and people I know that play the song play it that way.
“If I had to do it over again today and we were doing digital stuff, I would have fixed all that stuff and it wouldn’t be anywhere near as good.”
We talk about the Airplane, the blues, Kaukonen (and Hot Tuna) sideman Barry Mitterhoff and more on this podcast. Look for a story on Kaukonen in Friday’s Extra section.