Take Me to a Circus Tent
Craig Fenton
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Buy *Take Me to a Circus Tent: The Jefferson Airplane Flight Manual* by Craig Fenton online

Take Me to a Circus Tent: The Jefferson Airplane Flight Manual
Craig Fenton
Infinity Publishing
543 pages
November 2006
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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There is a distinct charm and allure when you read the words of a writer who loves his subject. Author Craig Fenton adores his. Here is the most comprehensive and definitive work you'll ever want to read on the classic San Francisco Summer of Love band, Jefferson Airplane. Every detail about the band's recordings, live performances, side projects, album tracks, singles, television appearances, collaborations, and anything else you might be able to think of lies in these 500-plus pages.

There is so much information provided that it's almost impossible to simply sit and read this cover to cover. Rather, you need to put on Surrealistic Pillow, turn the lights low, fire up a ... (candle, what did you think I was going to say?) and read a section at a time. As you listen to those marvelous tracks looking for a foothold in your head, you can read about the history of each song.

"The first single released was 'My Best Friend,'" explains an Airplane insider in the extensive interview section. "Very possibly the weakest tune on the record. It was also written by Skip Spence. Skip by this time is obviously out of the band. If we pretend the single sold well you are now promoting somebody that is on another record label. If the public enjoyed that style how will you recreate the song when the writer is with Moby Grape? Nobody could have predicted the well-deserved success of 'White Rabbit,' but if you went through the LP for potential singles, 'Plastic Fantastic Lover,' 'Somebody To Love,' 'Today' and 'White Rabbit' are light years better as an album track, single release, and/or live tune."

At the end of the song, as it falls into that ascending diminished sequence of chords and segues into "Today," one of the most remarkable songs the group ever recorded, you're able to read about the sessions and glean maybe just a little bit of insight as to what it may have been like to have been there. It is 1967, and the world is full of possibilities - and with Fenton's new work, we can once again relive those moments through the words and wit of man who understands this very important group of musicians as clearly as anyone ever has.

Even if you don't read every word, the photos are priceless and timeless. Herb Greene, the man responsible for the iconic Surrealistic Pillow cover provides a tremendous selection of portraits and group shot.

In the bookstore, you'll find bios on rap bands, boy bands, girl bands, rock bands, and pop bands. It's unlikely that even a small percentage of them will be remembered in ten years time. Here, 40-plus years later, the Jefferson Airplane still occupy a place in our hearts and our heads. This book will bring their music and their lives back to you.

Fenton has done outstanding work here. You can't help but be moved by the depth of his passion for one the world's truly significant group of musicians.

Click here for Steven Rosen's interview with Take Me to a Circus Tent author Craig Fenton

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. Steven Rosen, 2007

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