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Top 50 Jefferson Starship Songs

It has been a difficult, and at times, confusing journey through different incarnations of Jefferson Starship. So, if I’m going to take a look at the Top 10 Jefferson Starship songs, then I need to rule out some tracks. 

Table of Contents

Anything by Jefferson Airplane, or the later version of the band, Starship, needs to be excluded. Unfortunately, that means missing out on some great tracks.

The ‘Airplane’

Formed in 1965 in San Francisco, they were one of the leaders of the 60s counterculture. And, in Grace Slick, the first bad girl of the modern rock scene. They headlined Monterrey in 1967, The Isle of Wight in England in 1968, and Woodstock in 1969. Songs like “Somebody to Love” was an anthem, and there were great tracks like “White Rabbit.”

Those two brought them international fame. Neither song will be included under the Jefferson Starship banner, even though many of the musicians were the same.

Members leaving and some other issues meant the ‘Airplane’ ceased working. But, they returned via Paul Kantner with Grace Slick and their Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra variation of the band. 

The ‘Starship’

Top 10 Jefferson Starship Songs

They took a new name, Jefferson Starship, with just enough of a reminder of what had gone before. The ‘Starship’ lasted a decade in its basic format, though it carried on a little later with new members. It is from that period that my selections have been made.

A ‘New’ Starship

They emerged in 1985 with a much more Pop sound. The band found some success with songs like “We Built This City” and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.” Neither of these will be included in this list of Jefferson Starship’s Top 10 songs.

Jefferson Starship released its first album in 1974 and featured Grace Slick and Paul Kantner. So, it is in 1974 that we’ll start looking for material to include, until 1984 when effectively the band finished working.

Top 50 Jefferson Starship Songs

[nb]1[/nb] Laying It On The Line

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqLnVgR7fLw[/yt]

Let’s start in 1984. This is the opening track from the album Nuclear Furniture. If there was one thing associated with Grace Slick, it is criticism of what she saw as injustice. This is one of those songs written by band members Chico Chaquico and Mickey Thomas. And they pull no punches.

“Got U.S. boys on foreign soil – Spillin’ their blood to keep the peace – Cities will vanish in turmoil – While the sheiks lay sleepin’ on the beach – We lay it on the line.”

It has got an excellent opening with some dialog that sets the scene. Then, the song starts with a typical “Jefferson” groove. Great drums and bass driving it along, simple but effective, and a neat riff.

[nb]2[/nb] St. Charles

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4BxmjFuF_0[/yt]

This is a track taken from their 1976 album Spitfire. It was the second single that they released from this album. But, it only reached a rather disappointing #64 on the American chart. The opening was very synthesizer-laden, but it also had a Neil Young sound about it.

In some ways, this is a song that will only be appreciated by fans of the band. Like much of their work at the time, it is very underrated. What the lyrics are all about is open to conjecture. 

Most of the song seems to be experienced through the eyes of a dream. Not the first Jefferson song to be so inspired, I suspect, if you get my meaning. Several years after the San Francisco “thing,” their music still carries the feeling of those times.

[nb]3[/nb] Count on Me

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOMuK7YYxeg[/yt]

This is a song taken from their 1978 album Earth, and it was written by Jesse Barish. Earth was the last album where the lineup of the 70s group was featured.

The mood is a little lighter on this track than in some of their other work. In keeping with the times of the late 70s, it has a mid-tempo beat with some nice piano and an acoustic guitar instead of the more “lively” electric guitar we are used to. Commercially, it did quite well, reaching #8 in America and #9 in Canada. As a result, it’s one of the most successful Jefferson Starship songs.

[nb]4[/nb] Fast Buck Freddie

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yhTCHlPsLY[/yt]

You may expect Jefferson Starship’s early albums to have a little of the 60s Jefferson Airplane sound in them. This track is a point in question. The sound still lingers in parts, and that provided a bridge between the two distinct musical eras.

“Fast Buck Freddie” was written by Craig Chaquico and Grace Slick and taken from the Red Octopus album released in 1970. It wasn’t released as a single, but the album did remarkably well. Red Octopus reached #5 on the American album chart and #4 in Canada. 

If you listen to the music going on behind Grace Slick’s voice in the verses, you may recognize something. The basis of the chord structure of the song “Gloria” By Them. 

Can you hear that 60s ‘Airplane’ sound? 

It’s what makes this track stand out. And why it is among Jefferson Starship’s best songs.

[nb]5[/nb] Ride the Tiger

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTpuWlxO-ts[/yt]

Back to the band’s first album in their new incarnation, Dragon Fly, released in 1974. This was the opening track on the album written by Grace Slick, Paul Kanter, and Byong Yu. Although, the latter credit might be a bit wordplay fun and have something to do with the third track on the album “Be Young You.”

Dragon Fly did quite well, reaching #11 on the American album chart. This was the first single released from the album. “Ride the Tiger” didn’t resonate with the record-buying public or even their fans. Its highest placing was #84 on the American singles chart.

The song starts with some interesting timing which is followed by a guitar riff and the trademark vocals. Once again, it is a song that harks back to the previous late-60s band in the way it sounds.

[nb]6[/nb] Winds of Change

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7dJ3a-U6WQ[/yt]

This is a track from the album of the same name, released in 1982. It was written by a British member of the band, Pete Roy Sears, and his wife, Jeanette. And it was the first album they produced after Grace Slick had rejoined the band. She shares the lead vocal with Mickey Thomas.

Another Brit, Aynsley Dunbar, played drums with them for the recording but didn’t go on the supporting tour. It was the second single from the album and reached #38 on the American chart. Quite a powerful song and a great performance by Grace Slick.

[nb]7[/nb] With Your Love

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gyp0f8L5nd4[/yt]

“Miracles” had been a big hit for them, and they needed a strong follow-up. “With Your Love” was chosen from the 1976 album Spitfire. It proved to be a good choice peaking at #12 on the American chart and #10 in Canada. It was written by Joey Covington, Vic Smith, and Martin Balin.

As a rock band, they had mellowed by previous standards, and you can hear jazz influences beginning to creep in. I have included it here as an example of how they were beginning to change and find new directions. Some may not have appreciated that, but maybe for them, it was a necessity.

[nb]8[/nb] Find Your Way Back

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dj4gqJzlIvc[/yt]

Given the changes in style in the previous selection, this is included to show they still had that edge. Although, in the opening section, you might have been forgiven for thinking it was a track from The Byrds. 

Plenty of heavy drums, guitars, and powerful vocals. There is a little bit of the song “Jane” in the middle section with the keyboards and the same power chords from the guitar. But “Jane” was their song, so why not. It was taken from the album, Modern Times, released in 1981. “Find Your Way Back” reached #29 in both America and Canada.

[nb]9[/nb] Miracles

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7m8izf-oXY4[/yt]

Back to the Red Octopus album from 1975 again for this track. “Miracles” is easily one of the best songs by Jefferson Starship. Some might view it as the best, but for me, it was their second-best song.

The song was written by Marty Balin and proved to be their most successful single under the ‘Jefferson Starship’ or ‘Airplane’ names. It peaked at #3 in America, where it stayed for three weeks.

The song was over six minutes long on the album. So, it had to be cut down to about three minutes for the single. Otherwise, they wouldn’t get much airplay. There were also some sexual references they thought should be removed for the single.

Did it affect the song? 

Not when you hear the single. But, the atmosphere on the album track is somewhat different due to the length and what is included. Once again, the sound is a little bit of a throwback to those late 60s days. The vocal interchanges between Balin and Grace Slick are especially good. 

“Miracles” was, in some ways, a vindication of Balin’s view of the Band. He had been a founding member but left when the music drifted to areas he didn’t like. However, he returned to the band on several occasions. This was one such time when his contribution was enormous.

[nb]10[/nb] Jane

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJCuB-uhNgM[/yt]

And so, to the last on this list of the Top 10 Jefferson Starship songs. This is one that probably stands out from all the others. A song that could have come straight out of Jefferson Airplane. And one of the most popular Jefferson Starship songs of all time.

“Jane” is a powerful song with a strong vocal line and a typical rock guitar riff. In many respects, it is keyboard-based but still has all the attributes of a great Rock song. It was taken from their 1979 album, Freedom At Point Zero. “Jane” reached #21 in the UK and #14 in America and was written by David Freiburg, Paul Kantner, Chico Chaquico, and Jim McPherson.

In so many ways, this song is how I always like to hear them play and, of course, remember them. It was one of the few songs that all various incarnations of ‘Jefferson’ included in their live act. Well, you’d have to, wouldn’t you?

[nb]11[/nb]Stranger

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPCiC1Nku18[/yt]

[nb]12[/nb]Out of Control

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efvLIZZRKZk[/yt]

[nb]13[/nb]No Way Out

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQijT1lcR68[/yt]

[nb]14[/nb]Can’t Find Love

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DI9aElgZS0[/yt]

[nb]15[/nb]Be My Lady

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJhlajGRWac[/yt]

[nb]16[/nb]Hyperdrive

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BodX7wP6jBE[/yt]

[nb]17[/nb]Rock Music

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hkmEpcYpH0[/yt]

[nb]18[/nb]Freedom at Point Zero

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QT7C-u5AWHg[/yt]

[nb]19[/nb]Save Your Love

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXHkNKYfX8I[/yt]

[nb]20[/nb]Sara

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32ScTb6_KHg[/yt]

[nb]21[/nb]Tomorrow Doesn’t Matter Tonight

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Udglbs-G7WE[/yt]

[nb]22[/nb]Layin’ It on the Line (Live)

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqLnVgR7fLw[/yt]

[nb]23[/nb]The Light

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfukRiNi9uM[/yt]

[nb]24[/nb]Connection

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Meo7ldTa7PM[/yt]

[nb]25[/nb]Winds of Change (Live)

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7dJ3a-U6WQ[/yt]

[nb]26[/nb]Keep on Dreamin’

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6l7n8CMPQto[/yt]

[nb]27[/nb]When I Was a Boy

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXOe_rbN-nI[/yt]

[nb]28[/nb]What Are We Waiting For?

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PhXdhVyHHM[/yt]

[nb]29[/nb]I’m on Fire

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioGWkqsUc3k[/yt]

[nb]30[/nb]Let Me Fly

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SupTmHcskD4[/yt]

[nb]31[/nb]Find Your Way Back (Live)

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2BdcVOEIns[/yt]

[nb]32[/nb]Black Widow

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLw5rvLuLrE[/yt]

[nb]33[/nb]Mary

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qR7GD3fLH1o[/yt]

[nb]34[/nb]America

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGVO1ELGBuo[/yt]

[nb]35[/nb]Good Hearts

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfV-IbIf4vc[/yt]

[nb]36[/nb]Assassin

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnKKcoK8PJI[/yt]

[nb]37[/nb]Stairway to Cleveland (We Do What We Want)

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2gzRKvK99A[/yt]

[nb]38[/nb]Fire

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwXElI50lxE[/yt]

[nb]39[/nb]Connection (Live)

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Dde5w69CB4[/yt]

[nb]40[/nb]Can’t Control It

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efvLIZZRKZk[/yt]

[nb]41[/nb]Skateboard

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMwbwgeL1KY[/yt]

[nb]42[/nb]With Your Love (Live)

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gyp0f8L5nd4[/yt]

[nb]43[/nb]Just the Same

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=272iu6ytl8Y[/yt]

[nb]44[/nb]Shadowlands

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBwxjsq0hgk[/yt]

[nb]45[/nb]The Awakening

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6BKc0-lF34[/yt]

[nb]46[/nb]Rock Myself to Sleep

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kgj9M3PBnCg[/yt]

[nb]47[/nb]Jane (Live)

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TrfuxFlnZ8[/yt]

[nb]48[/nb]Save Your Love (Live)

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXHkNKYfX8I[/yt]

[nb]49[/nb]Assassination

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnKKcoK8PJI[/yt]

[nb]50[/nb]Connection (Live at the Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, CA 2/28/76)

[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1pgPtjHRTM[/yt]

Need to Find More Great Music?

If so, check out our thoughts on the Best Songs by The Commodores, the Top 10 Kiss Songs, the Best Men At Work Songs, the Top 10 Mamas And The Papas Songs, and the Top 10 Kansas Songs to discover more amazing song selections.

Also, you’ll want to listen to them. So, take a look at our reviews of the Best Headphones for Music, the Best Headphones For Rock & Metal Music, the Most Comfortable Headphones, the Best Headphones with Volume Control, and the Best Headphones Under $200 you can buy in 2023.

Top 10 Jefferson Starship Songs – Final Thoughts

Despite the changes, they started in the 60s as a leading part of what was known as the “counterculture.” But, they ended up as part of what had become the new culture. The rebellion of the 60s was largely gone in later years, but on the way through, they always provided some great music. The face of the band changed, as did the style in some ways. 

I have included some of those changes here, and they are interesting to compare with other tracks to see how they did change. If you want to track the changes over decades, a very good album to do that is The Essential Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship/Starship. There were changes, as I have said, there had to be, but they could always write and perform great songs. These are just a few.

Until next time, happy listening.

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