Here’s the song Jefferson Airplane wrote about Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s wife

February 22, 2013

The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg recently profiled Sally Oren, today best known as the dinner-hosting wife of Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, but decades ago known as a fixture of the San Francisco psychedelic scene. She was such a fixture, it turns out, that Jefferson Airplane recorded an entire song "to, for, and about" her, called "Young Girl Sunday Blues."

The song is embedded above. Here's the relevant excerpt from Goldberg's profile, which is worth reading in full:

Sally Oren, right, with Sara Netanyahu, who is married to the Israeli prime minister. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Sally Oren, right, with Sara Netanyahu, who is married to the Israeli prime minister. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

By the Summer of Love, in 1967, Oren, then 16, was seeing every band worth seeing—Cream, the Doors, the Who. “I didn’t meet Jimi Hendrix, but he was fantastic.” She had only a nodding acquaintance with other artists. “With Jim Morrison it was sort of a ‘Hi, hi, how are you?’ sort of thing,” she said. She knew and loved Jefferson Airplane best. After the first Human Be-In, in January 1967, Jorma Kaukonen, the Airplane’s lead guitarist—“a Finnish Jew,” Oren noted—drove her home, where she served him milk and cookies. And she had a schoolgirl crush on Marty Balin, one of the group’s main songwriters.

“I always wanted to position myself so that I would run into Marty. So one day I see him, and he says, ‘Hey, Sally, we just wrote two songs about you.’ I probably turned purple from embarrassment.” The first song, “Sally, Sally,” was never recorded. The second, “Young Girl Sunday Blues,” would appear on the group’s third album, After Bathing at Baxter’s.

“Marty stood there in the hallway and sang it to me,” she said. “ ‘Don’t you know what I have found? / Maybe you’ve found it too / Today is made of yesterday and tomorrow / Young girl Sunday blues and all her sorrow.’ ”

Oren’s reaction? “What do you say, as a 16-year-old?” She tried to remember if she’d had many sorrows. “I probably mooned around a lot.”

A short time later, Jefferson Airplane sang “Young Girl Sunday Blues” on the Fillmore stage. “Paul Kantner announced that this song is to, for, and about Sally,” she said. “At which point my sister broke out crying. The whole thing was really freaky.”

There's also a nice story about eating hot dogs with Jerry Garcia. It's not clear the degree to which this experience helped prepare Oren for her formal role hosting American officials at the Israeli ambassador's residence.

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Max Fisher · February 22, 2013