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Monday, July 6, 2009

Go Ask Alice


Let’s be real here. The new pictures that have been posted on for the upcoming live action Disney Film, Alice in Wonderland are a bit disturbing. But this is by no means shocking, because when you mix Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton together things usually get a bit creepy. Does anyone remember the 2007 movie musical Sweeney Todd? “God that’s good!”

But when it comes to music, The Lewis Carroll tale seems to be loved by not only film buffs but also musicians across the map. Here is a look at how the music world has taken the classic story and utilized it over the years.

Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit”

The song was released on June 24, 1967 and was one of Jefferson Airplane’s most successful singles-- coming in at #8 on the Billboard charts. The song references several visual elements of Carroll’s story to serve as a metaphor for the hallucinogenic effects of psychedelic drugs such as “magic mushrooms.” For example the lyrics:

(And if you go chasing rabbits/ And you know you're going to fall/ Tell 'em a hookah smoking caterpillar/ Has given you the call/ Call Alice/ When she was just small.)

Lead singer Grace Slick believed that stories such as Alice In Wonderland promoted the use of drugs because of the colorful and surreal imagery that is used.

Charisma Records logo


In the 1970s one of the most successful record labels was founded by journalist Tony Stratton-Smith called Charisma Records. The label helped launch the careers of artists such as Genesis and Peter Gabriel and featured an easily recognizable logo with the Mad Hatter amongst other popular Alice in Wonderland Images. The drawing was created by Sir John Tenniel who was the original artist for Lewis Carroll’s stories.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker’s “Don’t Come Around Here No More” Music Video


Overgrown mushrooms, checkered rooms and pig faced babies are all part of Tom Petty’s version of Alice in Wonderland. Petty, dressed as the Mad Hatter, chases a frightened Alice around this alternate reality where the creep factor is amped up as the culmination of the 1985 video shows Alice being cut like a birthday cake and fed to Petty and the Heartbreakers.

The video gave me nightmares as a child. Thanks VH1.

White Rabbit Logo for Alisa

The 1984 Slavic band named Alisa (which is Serbian for Alice) branded themselves by using a logo that featured the popular White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland.

There are several artists that mention the 1865 tale (i.e. Marilyn Manson, The Stranglers, Blue Man Group) and new artists like the White Rabbits seem like Alice is where they get their names (this is not confirmed) but Alice in Wonderland will forever be a part of pop culture.

As to whether the 2010 live action film will be a success, Go ask Alice.

- Jessica Cole

Currently Listening to: "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane from the album Surrealistic Pillow

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