Crown of Creation was Jefferson Airplane’s fourth album, released in 1968. It did well, reaching number six in the US. It’s hippy-dippy, dated, doesn’t really hold up, but that’s not what grabs me.
No, it’s that mushroom cloud on the cover. During the Cold War being deep was so damned easy. That glowing tower of nuclear destruction was shorthand for so much: I’m peaceful; I’m involved; I’m concerned. Once in the hallways of Boiling Springs High School I said to Lee G.: “We’re the first generation to live our entire lives under the threat of the entire world being destroyed at any minute.” Heavy, man, heavy.
What’s kind of interesting about that moment, though, is that it demonstrates just how much the mood of the mushroom cloud changed in the fifteen years after Crown Of Creation. Hippies may have used the image as a sort of forewarning — come together and love each other, people, before it’s too late — but the punks took more of a “fuck it, it’s going to happen” approach to the tower of nuclear fire.
So Crown Of Creation captures a moment in time, and honestly if we would’ve known that “We Built This City” was fifteen years down the road when it was released back in ’68, we all may have prayed for fiery death.