(from an email to Greg Burk)
Yeah, After Bathing at Baxter’s has wound up my favorite rock album, at the top of the pile for years, as others have come and gone. In fact, only the Sex Pistols rate with the Airplane in being a transformative band in my adult life. I heard the Pistols when I was twenty, in ’77, and it was ’77 that I picked up Baxter’s, the oddly obscure (by then) Airplane album, the one you never heard on the radio. I had most of the others. Baxter’s blew my mind like Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica blew my mind, it was overwhelming, a mind fuck. Somehow it overtook Trout Mask in importance–helped along no doubt by Spencer Dryden‘s drumming–and I still listen to it with varying degrees of awe, depending on how stoned I am. I listen to it dozens of time annually, always have. It’s the only record I have that I listened to dozens of times annually since I bought it in some hippie used record store in Isla Vista. And over all these decades of being a rock fan, the only two essential–as in needing them to breathe essential–rock albums left for me are After Bathing at Baxter’s and Never Mind the Bullocks, bought both that same year, 1977, when I was twenty years old. And when I heard Paul Kantner died, my favorite Airplane, the genius of the bunch, with his amazing sense of harmony and rhythm, I felt the briefest twinge and got on with life, which is the way it should be, because otherwise you don’t get it, you don’t get it at all. Paul got down, not the first time, you know. Paul got down and got up to go. And he’s gone.