Lather was thirty years old today,
They took away all of his toys.
His mother sent newspaper clippings to him,
About his old friends who'd stopped being boys. (paper dolls)

There was Howard C. Green, just turned thirty-three,
His leather chair waits at the bank. (typewriter clacking and ding)
And Seargent Dow Jones, twenty-seven years old,
Commanding his very own tank. (howitzer firing)

But Lather still finds it a nice thing to do,
To lie about nude in the sand,
Drawing pictures of mountains that look like bumps,
And thrashing the air with his hands.

But wait, oh Lather's productive you know,
He produces the finest of sound,
Putting drumsticks on either side of his nose,
Snorting the best licks in town,
But that's all over...

Lather was thirty years old today,
And Lather came foam from his tongue.
He looked at me eyes-wide and plainly said,
Is it true that I'm no longer young? (Mommy?)

And the children call him famous,
what the old men call insane,
And sometimes he's so nameless,
That he hardly knows what game to play...
Which words to say...

And I should have told him, "No, you're not old."
And I should have let him go on ... smiling ... babywide.

Lyrics submitted by eshtaryus, edited by meaning600, Mellors

Lather song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentGrace wrote it as a composite, based mostly on Spencer Dryden, whom she was having an affair with, because he was so childlike, and Jack Casady and his nude "trip" on the beach playing in the sand.
    But it's also a poignant look at trying to hold on to innocence and questioning whether, on one level, it's really not so bad to some degree, not living up to society's demands on how one should be at any age.
    brumuson November 23, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentHa ha - now they are all over sixty and instead of saying, "don't trust anybody over thirty" they are probably saying, "at this point don't trust anybody under sixty!"
    moikon February 28, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commentdefenatly about some one who does not want to grow up i think Grace wrote it for one guy cuz he was like 30 still hanging out with the young crowd
    bluesfromanairplaneon October 02, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentActually, Grace Slick (born 1939) is past 70, and Spencer Dryden, about whom this song was written in 1968 around the time of his actual 30th birthday, would be 72 if he hadn't died in early 2005, age 66.
    mbrachmanon November 03, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commentits interesting how there are many meanings packed together: her boyfriend (turned 30, arrested nude on beach), detachment to material world, keeping the inner child, not trusting people over 30. some people suggested its also bout a retarded or autist boy
    (foam from his tongue, the old men called him insane, ...). but i dont think jefferson airplane would finger point retarded or socalled mentally ill....but rather mean the innocent, hippie way of life, ...which the old may call insane, but lather's a hero to the youth.
    some others suggested its contra vietnam war, (seargant ...commanding his tank, trashing air with his hand>>helicopter sound, ...), and about a veteran, which is also possible. its also bout drugs (snorting the best licks in town).
    then: why is the seargant called dow jones-like the stock index>is she making fun?(anticapitalist)
    another thing i noticed, since my mother tongue is not english, and its the first time i looked up the lyrics, after knowing the song for so many years, ... grace has a way to prolong and intonate the words, that i used to get the song a bit different (....may this be intended her being on drugs???) its a mind expansion when people can play with language, so you hear 2 meanings, ...
    i dont know if this is the case here, but would anyone agree?:
    1- i always heard 13 instead of 30 due to the intonation (would make more sense)
    2- leather chair (sounds like lather)
    3- mountains that look like bumps (i heard bombs> reference to the war, atomic bomb)

    also i had this interpretation of his mother being very dominant, psychopathic
    (sending newspaper clippings, .... i always associated with the letters psychos write(like for ransome, etc.))-
    reminding me of my mother. i always thought of myself when i heard this song. a very delicate, freedomloving, fine, artistic soul this lather had, he didnt want to get messed up...
    in the last part of the song lather talks to grace as if shes the mother now,
    (is it true that im no longer young-"mommy?" from the off, i should have let him go, ...).
    but they want to spoil him, maybe some people even want to get him locked up.

    the line he hardly knows what game to play, which words to say... refers to the corrupted games of society, where you have to play a role, and say things right, etc....

    its a song against establishment definetly.

    sheidaon May 18, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTo me, it's about someone who likes doing certain things or doing things a cetrtain way and doesn't want to give that up for what society deems appropriate for those in an adult age group. It's about someone resisting the confinement that age-group labels can bring.
    CuteSparkinaon October 19, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe song tells of someone known as Lather who has just turned 30 and, much to his chagrin, is coming to the realisation that he's expected to behave in a fashion that people find appropriate for his age. The song was written for Jefferson Airplane drummer Spencer Dryden on the occasion of his thirtieth birthday.
    markonlineon February 03, 2018   Link

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