Jimi Hendrix – Purple Haze

From the opening odd riff of his second single you knew it was going to be different. When the recording was sent to Hendrix’s American label, a note was attached that said, “deliberate distortion, do not correct.”

When manager Chas Chandler heard Hendrix tinkering with the song’s opening riff, he said, “That’s the next single!” Hendrix wrote as many as 10 verses to the song but Chas Chandler helped him edit it down to a radio-friendly length.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience recorded the song two weeks later, on January 11th, 1967. After some overdubs and producing, the song was released as a single on March 17th. The Experience’s debut album, Are You Experienced? would be released a couple of months later.

In March of 1967, “Purple Haze,” the single, was released in England and shot up the charts. Three months later, the Experience gave its first U.S. performance at the Monterey Pop Festival. After that show, Jimi Hendrix became a star in America.

The song has become a symbol of the ’60s counterculture and has since lent its name to a strain of cannabis and acid.

This contains one of the most misheard lyrics ever, with “Scuse me while I kiss the sky” interpreted as “Scuse me while I kiss this guy.” Hendrix added to the confusion by sometimes singing it that way and pointing to one of his band members.

The song peaked at #65 in the Billboard 100 and #3 in the UK in 1967.

Jimi Hendrix: “I dream a lot and I put my dreams down as songs,”  “I wrote one called ‘First Look Around the Corner’ and another called ‘The Purple Haze,’ which was about a dream I had that I was walking under the sea.”

 

From Songfacts

At one point, Hendrix wrote the chorus as “purple haze, Jesus saves,” but decided against it.

Part of the lyrics were formed from some of Jimi’s free verse ramblings that he jotted down from time to time.

This song was written under the guidance of Hendrix’ manager, ex-Animals bassist Chas Chandler. They had just released Hendrix’ first single, a cover of Tim Rose’s “Hey Joe” and were looking for a follow up. Chandler was impressed when he first heard the riff, and inspired Jimi to finish writing the song.

On the original recording, you hear the line up of the Experience with Noel Redding on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums. 

The opening chord of two riffs then an interval of flattened fifth is the d5 or “tritone,” which has long been regarded as the “Most imperfect of dissonances” and was generally avoided in composition for that reason. 

Hendrix claimed this had nothing to do with drugs, but it’s hard to believe they weren’t an influence. The lyrics seem to vividly portray an acid trip, and Hendrix was doing plenty of drugs at the time.

Jimi and producer Chas Chandler used some unusual studio tricks to get the unique sound. To create the background track that sounds distant, they put a pair of headphones around a microphone and recorded it that way to get an echo effect.

Hendrix wrote the lyrics on the day after Christmas in 1966. He wrote a lot more than what made it to the song. The track was developed at a press function that he attended at East London’s Upper Cut Club, run by the former boxer Billy Walker. Hendrix launched into the scorching riff in the club’s compact dressing room and every head turned. “I said, write the rest of that,” said Chandler. “That’s the next single!” It was premiered live on 8 January 1967, in Sheffield in the north of England.

For one of the guitar tracks, Hendrix used a device called an Octavia, which could raise or lower the guitar by a full octave.

A month before Hendrix died, he opened a recording studio in Greenwich Village called Electric Lady. One of the studios is known as “Purple Haze” and contains a purple mixing board. The studios have remained active with The Clash, Weezer, Patti Smith and Alicia Keys all recording there at some point.

This song is apparently referenced in an episode of The Simpsons. Homer is shopping (for useless garbage, of course) and finds a back massaging chair called the Spinemelter 2000. Homer sits in the chair and orders the store clerk to put it on full power. As the chair begins to massage Homer, he tells his family, “Excuse me while I kiss the sky…” 

The track was the penultimate song Hendrix played in concert, on September 6, 1970, days before his death.

James Ford, who is a member of the production duo Simian Mobile Disco tells in the NME column “My first record”: “The first record I remember really connecting with was ‘Purple Haze.’ I remember being blown away by its wild and unhinged energy. It was also the first thing I ever tried to work out on a guitar. Needless to say, I didn’t get very far at that age.” 

Bob Rivers did a parody of this song called “Holidaze,” which is all about the mad rush of the holiday season (“S’cuse me, I got gifts to buy…”). Playing Hendrix in the parody is Randy Hansen, a renowned Jimi Hendrix tribute artist. On drums is Alan White of the band Yes.

Purple Haze

Purple haze, all in my brain
Lately things they don’t seem the same
Actin’ funny, but I don’t know why
Excuse me while I kiss the sky

Purple haze, all around
Don’t know if I’m comin’ up or down
Am I happy or in misery?
What ever it is, that girl put a spell on me

Help me
Help me
Oh, no, no

Ooh, ah
Ooh, ah
Ooh, ah
Ooh, ah, yeah!

Purple haze all in my eyes
Don’t know if it’s day or night
You got me blowin’, blowin’ my mind
Is it tomorrow, or just the end of time?

Ooh
Help me
Ahh, yeah, yeah, purple haze
Oh, no, oh
Oh, help me
Tell me, tell me, purple haze
I can’t go on like this
(Purple haze) you’re makin’ me blow my mind
Purple haze, n-no, no
(Purple haze)

 

 

 

Jimi Hendrix – Fire

This song was on Jimi Hendrix’s debut album  Are You Experienced released in 1967. The song was written by Hendrix shortly before it was recorded. The guitar and the drum sound is incredible on this one.

The main lyrics in this song (“let me stand next to your fire”) came from a time when the band had just finished a gig in the cold around Christmas, 1966. They went to bass player Noel Redding’s mother’s house in Folkestone, England, and when they got there, Jimi asked Redding’s mother Margaret if he could “stand next to her fire” to warm up. The family dog, a German Shepherd, lay by the fire, which inspired the line, “Move over Rover, and let Jimi take over.”

The song was remixed in stereo for the American release of the album. In 1969, it was released as a stereo single in the UK with the title “Let Me Light Your Fire”

 

From Songfacts

This lyrical lightning bolt was a breakthrough for Hendrix, who had just started writing songs at the request of his manager Chas Chandler. Writing riffs was easy for him, and it turned out he had a talent for crafting lyrics as well, as he was able to turn a simple line into a fiery tale of lustful passion. (This story is verified in Mat Snow’s Mojo story on Hendrix that ran in the October 2006 issue.)

Hendrix is legendary for theatrics like setting his guitar on fire and playing it with his teeth (not at the same time). This was the song he was (appropriately) playing when he set it on fire for the first time. It happened at a concert in London in March 1967, two months before the Are You Experienced? the album was released. Hendrix was low on the bill (below Engelbert Humperdinck), and looking to garner some media attention. When he ignited his guitar, he created a buzz that grew to a roar as his career took off.

Hendrix set fire to his guitar once again at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. At that show, he didn’t do the bit during “Fire,” he did it after playing “Wild Thing.”

The Red Hot Chili Peppers often covered this song in their early years. They decided to play it again at Woodstock ’99 in Rome, New York, but this was a very different festival than the one where Jimi Hendrix performed the song in 1969. The ’99 crowd was violent and unruly; when RHCP launched into this song, they increased their level of mayhem, tearing the place up and setting fires (yes, Rome was burning). >>

Gary Moore covered this on his 1999 release A Different Beat. >>

In the movie Wayne’s World, Wayne falls in love with the bassist from an all-girl band (Tia Carrere) after seeing them cover this song at Gasworks

Fire

Alright,
now listen, baby

You don’t care for me
I don’-a care about that
Gotta new fool, ha!
I like it like that
I have only one burning desire
Let me stand next to your fire
Let me stand next to your fire [Repeat 4 times]

Listen here, baby
and stop acting so crazy
You say your mum ain’t home,
it ain’t my concern,
Just play with me and you won’t get burned

I have only one itching desire
Let me stand next to your fire
Let me stand next to your fire [Repeat 4 times]

Oh! Move over, Rover
and let Jimi take over
Yeah, you know what I’m talking ’bout
Yeah, get on with it, baby
That’s what I’m talking ’bout
Now dig this!
Ha!
Now listen, baby

You try to gimme your money
you better save it, babe
Save it for your rainy day

I have only one burning desire
Let me stand next to your fire
Let me stand next to your fire

Jimi Hendrix – Hey Joe

“Hey Joe” was written by a singer named Billy Roberts, who was part of the Greenwich Village folk scene in the early ’60s. This was Billy’s most well-known song.

This is the song that started it all for Hendrix. After being discharged from the US Army in 1962, he worked as a backing musician for The Isley Brothers and Little Richard, and in 1966 performed under the name Jimmy James in the group Jimmy James and the Blue Flames. Hendrix introduced “Hey Joe” to the band and added it to their setlist. During a show at the Greenwich Village club Cafe Wha?, Chas Chandler of The Animals was in the audience, and he knew instantly that Hendrix was the man to record the song.

This is one of the few Hendrix tracks with female backing vocals. They were performed by a popular trio called the Breakaways (Jean Hawker, Margot Newman, and Vicki Brown), who were brought in by producer Chas Chandler.

The song peaked at #6 in the UK Charts in 1966.

From Songfacts

 The song is structured as a conversation between two men, with “Joe” explaining to the other that he caught his woman cheating and plans to kill her. They talk again, and Joe explains that he did indeed shoot her, and is headed to Mexico.

Billy Roberts copyrighted this song in 1962, but never released it (he issued just one album, Thoughts Of California in 1975). In 1966, several artists covered the song, including a Los Angeles band called The Leaves (their lead singer was bassist Jim Pons, who joined The Turtles just before they recorded their Happy Together album), whose version was a minor hit, reaching #31 in the US. Arthur Lee’s group Love also recorded it that year, as did The Byrds, whose singer David Crosby had been performing the song since 1965. These were all uptempo renditions.

The slow version that inspired Hendrix to record this came from a folk singer named Tim Rose, who played it in a slow arrangement on his 1967 debut album and issued it as a single late in 1966. Rose was a popular singer/songwriter for a short time in the Greenwich Village scene, but quickly faded into obscurity before a small comeback in the ’90s. He died in 2002 at age 62.

Chandler convinced Hendrix to join him in London, and he became Jimi’s producer and manager. Teaming Hendrix with Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell, Chandler had the group – known as The Jimi Hendrix Experience – record “Hey Joe,” and released it as a single in the UK in December 1966. It climbed to #6 in February 1967, as Hendrix developed a reputation as an electrifying performer and wildly innovative guitarist.

America was a tougher nut to crack – when the song was released there in April, it went nowhere.

The song incorporates many elements of blues music, including a F-C-G-D-A chord progression and a story about infidelity and murder. This led many to believe it was a much older (possibly traditional) song, but it was an original composition.

Hendrix played this live for the first time at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. It was the first time the group performed in America.

This was released in Britain with the flip side “Stone Free,” which was the first song Hendrix wrote for The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

The song was released in the UK on the Polydor label in a one-single deal. Hendrix then signed to the Track label, which was set up by Kit Lambert, producer for The Who.

Dick Rowe of Decca Records turned down Hendrix for a deal, unimpressed with both “Hey Joe” and “Stone Free.” Rowe also turned away the Beatles four years earlier.

The Hendrix version omits the first verse, where Joe buys the gun:

Hey Joe, where you goin’ with that money in your hand?
Chasin’ my woman, she run off with another man
Goin downtown, buy me a .44

In the original (and most versions pre-Hendrix), Joe also kills his wife’s lover when he catches them in bed together.

This was the last song performed at Woodstock in 1969. The festival was scheduled to end at midnight on Sunday, August 17 (the third day), but it ran long and Hendrix didn’t go on until Monday around 9 a.m. There weren’t many attendees left, but Hendrix delivered a legendary performance.

While Jimi’s version is by far the most famous, “Hey Joe” has been recorded by over 1000 artists. In America, three versions charted:

The Leaves (#31, 1966)
Cher (#94, 1967)
Wilson Pickett (#59, 1969)

Hendrix is the only artist to chart with the song in the UK, although a completely different song called “Hey Joe” was a #1 hit there for Frankie Laine in 1963.

Some of the notable covers include:
Shadows of Knight (1966)
Music Machine (1966)
The Mothers Of Invention (1967)
Deep Purple (1967)
King Curtis (1968)
Roy Buchanan (1973)
Patti Smith (1974)
Soft Cell (1983)
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (1986)
The Offspring (1991)
Eddie Murphy (1993 – yes, the comedian)
Walter Trout (2000)
Popa Chubby (2001)
Robert Plant (2002)
Brad Mehldau Trio (2012)

The liner notes for Are You Experienced? say this song is “A blues arrangement of an old cowboy song that’s about 100 years old.” >>

The phrase “Hey Joe” is something men in the Philippines often shout when they see an American. Ted Lerner wrote a book about his experiences there called Hey, Joe: A Slice Of The City-An American In Manilla.

In an early demo version, Hendrix is caught off guard by the sound of his voice in the headphones, and can be heard on the recording saying, “Oh, Goddamn!” Then telling Chas Chandler in the booth, “Hey, make the voice a little lower and the band a little louder.” Hendrix was always insecure about his vocal talents, but thought if Dylan could swing it, so could he.

6,346 guitarists played “Hey Joe” simultaneously in the town of Wroclaw, Poland on May 1, 2009, breaking a world record for most guitarists playing a single song.

The BBC apologized after “Hey Joe” was played following a report on the Oscar Pistorius trial, following the disabled athlete’s shooting of his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. (The song includes the lines: “Hey Joe, where you going with that gun in your hand? I’m going out to shoot my old lady, you know I caught her messing around with another man.”)

This was one of five bonus tracks added to the album Are You Experienced? when it was re-released in 1997. The only song on the album not written by Hendrix, it is credited to Billy Roberts.

Not much is known about the song’s writer Billy Roberts, who apparently got in a car accident in the ’90s that left him impaired. Royalties from this song go to him through the publisher Third Palm Music.

This was used in the 1994 movie Forrest Gump when Forrest starts a fight at a Black Panthers gathering, but the song wasn’t included on the official soundtrack.

Hey Joe

Hey Joe, where you goin’ with that gun in your hand?
Hey Joe, I said where you goin’ with that gun in your hand?
Alright.
I’m goin down to shoot my old lady

You know I caught her messin’ ’round with another man.
I’m goin’ down to shoot my old lady
You know I caught her messin’ ’round with another man.

And that ain’t too cool.
(Ah-backing vocal on each line)
Uh, hey Joe, I heard you shot your woman down
You shot her down now.

Uh, hey Joe, I heard you shot you old lady down
You shot her down to the ground. Yeah!
Yes, I did, I shot her

You know I caught her messin’ ’round
Messin’ ’round town.
Uh, yes I did, I shot her
You know I caught my old lady messin’ ’round town.

And I gave her the gun and I shot her!
Alright
(Ah! Hey Joe)
Shoot her one more time again, baby!
Yeah.
(Hey Joe!)
Ah, dig it!
Ah! Ah!
(Joe where you gonna go?)
Oh, alright.
Hey Joe, said now
(Hey)
uh, where you gonna run to now, where you gonna run to?
Yeah.
(where you gonna go?)
Hey Joe, I said
(Hey)
where you goin’ to run
to now, where you, where you gonna go?
(Joe!)
Well, dig it!
I’m goin’ way down south, way down south
(Hey)
way down south to Mexico way! Alright!
(Joe)
I’m goin’ way down south
(Hey, Joe)
way down where I can be free!
(where you gonna…)
Ain’t no one gonna find me babe!
(…go?)
Ain’t no hangman gonna
(Hey, Joe)
he ain’t gonna put a rope around me!
(Joe where you gonna.)
You better belive it right now!
(…go?)
I gotta go now!
Hey, hey, hey Joe
(Hey Joe)
you better run on down!
(where you gonna…)
Goodbye everybody. Ow!
(…go?)
Hey, hey Joe, what’d I say
(Hey… Joe)
run on down.
(where you gonna go?

 

Jimi Hendrix – Crosstown Traffic

“Crosstown Trafic” was recorded at the Record Plant in 1968. Traffic’s Dave Mason was a guest vocalist on this song. This song includes a famous kazoo riff, which Hendrix originally performed using a comb and a piece of cellophane.

This song peaked at #52 on the Billboard 100 in 1968. The album was Electric Ladyland and it was Jimi’s only number 1 album in Billboard.

Hendrix wanted a Linda Eastman photo for the album cover… A photo of the band and some kids at Central Park on an Alice In Wonderland Statue… he wrote  “Please use color picture with us and the kids on the statue for front or back cover — OUTSIDE COVER,”  but Reprise ignored his request…this is the photo he wanted.

Instead, they used this one

Image result for jimi hendrix electric ladyland

The UK cover was of 19 nude women which again…Jimi didn’t want or ask for… The public opinion was that the cover was tasteless. Hendrix agreed. He distanced himself from the photo in interviews and proclaimed disdain for the photo.

 

From Songfacts

This song is about a girl who is hard to get rid of. Getting through to her that she’s not wanted is like getting through crosstown traffic.

The lyrics are similar to many Blues songs in that they are filled with sexual references in clever metaphors: “I’m not the only soul, who’s accused of hit and run, tire tracks all across your back, I can see you’ve had your fun.”

Dave Mason from the group Traffic sang on this. That’s him singing the high part on the word “Traffic.”

Chas Chandler produced the original tracks, but Hendrix remixed them when he started producing his own music in 1968.

 

Crosstown Traffic

You jump in front of my car when you
you know all the time
Ninety miles an hour, girl, is the speed I drive
You tell me it’s alright, you don’t mind a little pain
You say you just want me to take you for a drive

You’re just like crosstown traffic
So hard to get through to you
Crosstown traffic
I don’t need to run over you
Crosstown traffic
All you do is slow me down
And I’m tryin’ to get on the other side of town

I’m not the only soul who’s accused of hit and run
Tire tracks all across your back
I can, I can see you had your fun
But, darlin’ can’t you see my signals turn from green to red
And with you I can see a traffic jam straight up ahead

You’re just like crosstown traffic
So hard to get through to you
Crosstown traffic
I don’t need to run over you
Crosstown traffic
All you do is slow me down
And I got better things on the other side of town

Jimi Hendrix – All Along the Watchtower

Bob Dylan wrote this song and it was on his John Wesley Harding album. It was the longest time that I finally started to like Jimi’s version. The song peaked at #20 in the Billboard 100 in 1968. This was Jimi’s only top 40 hit in the Billboard 100.

I do like the simplicity of Bob’s original version also.

Bob said this about Jimi Hendrix in a 2015 speech: “We can’t forget Jimi Hendrix. I actually saw Jimi perform when he was with a band called Jimmy James and the Blue Flames. Something like that. And Jimi didn’t even sing. He was just the guitar player,” Dylan said. “He took some small songs of mine that nobody paid any attention to and brought them up into the outer limits of the stratosphere, turned them all into classics. I have to thank Jimi, too. I wish he was here.”

From Songfacts

This was written and originally recorded by Bob Dylan in 1967, but it was the Jimi Hendrix cover that made the song famous. Many other artists have covered it, including Eric Clapton, Neil Young, U2, Dave Matthews Band and The Grateful Dead. Dylan was so impressed with Jimi’s version that Dylan for years played it the way that Jimi had recorded it. 

This was Hendrix’ only Top 40 hit in the US, where his influence far outpaced his popularity. He charted a few times in the UK, where he rose to fame before making a name for himself in America.

This was recorded while Hendrix played with the Jimi Hendrix Experience: Hendrix on guitar, Noel Redding on bass, and Mitch Mitchell on drums. For this song, however, Redding was not on bass; Hendrix did it. Redding was also the guitar player for his band Fat Mattress, which Hendrix referred to as Thin Pillow. Hendrix often felt that Redding did not put his heart into the bass and was concerned that Redding concentrated more on Fat Mattress than he did on the Experience. Things like these led to him being replaced by Billy Cox. >>

The original version of this song is very slow. Jimi Hendrix’ version had a large impact on Dylan which made him make his own version “heavier.” 

Hendrix: “All those people who don’t like Bob Dylan’s songs should read his lyrics. They are filled with the joys and sadness of life. I am as Dylan, none of us can sing normally. Sometimes, I play Dylan’s songs and they are so much like me that it seems to me that I wrote them. I have the feeling that Watchtower is a song I could have come up with, but I’m sure I would never have finished it. Thinking about Dylan, I often consider that I’d never be able to write the words he manages to come up with, but I’d like him to help me, because I have loads of songs I can’t finish. I just lay a few words on the paper, and I just can’t go forward. But now things are getting better, I’m a bit more self-confident.” >>

Hendrix had been working on and off with the members of the band Traffic as he recorded Electric Ladyland. Traffic guitarist Dave Mason caught Hendrix at a party and the two discussed Bob Dylan’s newest album, John Wesley Harding, containing “All Along The Watchtower.” Hendrix, long fascinated with Dylan, decided to cover the song on the album. On the resulting track, Mason plays rhythm on a 12-string acoustic guitar.

In our interview with Mason, he explained: “Hendrix just happened to be sitting in one of those semi-private clubs in London. He was there one night just sitting alone, and it was like, “F–k, I’m just going to go over and say hi and talk to him.”

Mason recorded the song himself in the Hendrix arrangement for his 1974 self-titled album. He also made the song a mainstay of his concerts. Mason says it’s a deceptively simple song: “It’s just the same three chords, and they never change.”

This was used in an episode of The Simpsons when Homer’s mother was telling him a story that took place in the ’60s about why she had to leave him. 

In a 2008 poll conducted by a panel of experts in the Total Guitar magazine, this was voted the best cover song of all time. The Beatles’ rendition of “Twist and Shout,” first recorded by the Top Notes, came second, followed by the Guns N’ Roses version of the Wings song “Live and Let Die” in third place.

This was used in the 1994 movie Forrest Gump shortly after the title character arrives in Vietnam.

Yes this is Bob’s version…the only one I could find.

All Along The Watchtower

There must be some kind of way outta here
Said the joker to the thief
There’s too much confusion
I can’t get no relief

Business men, they drink my wine
Plowman dig my earth
None were level on the mind
Nobody up at his word
Hey, hey

No reason to get excited
The thief he kindly spoke
There are many here among us
Who feel that life is but a joke
But, uh, but you and I, we’ve been through that
And this is not our fate
So let us stop talkin’ falsely now
The hour’s getting late, hey

All along the watchtower
Princes kept the view
While all the women came and went
Barefoot servants, too
Outside in the cold distance 
A wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching
And the wind began to howl

Jimi Hendrix – Castles Made Of Sand

I’ve always liked Jimi’s more mellow songs. The song moves so well because of his guitar playing and the futility of life lyrics. The song originally appeared on the Axis: Bold as Love album in 1968. It was not released as a single and did not chart although the album peaked at #3 in the Billboard 200.

From Wiki

Hendrix’s brother, Leon Hendrix, has commented that the lyrics allude to their father’s alcoholism, Leon being taken away so suddenly by Child Protective Services without announcement, and the abusive relationship between their parents (or from stories told by their grandmother, who was half-Cherokee.

From Songfacts

This is one of Hendrix’ most autobiographical and personal songs. He hated talking about his past, and avoided it during press conferences and interviews.

Hendrix played all of the lead guitar parts backward, then rewound the recording of the lead guitar parts to the song to get that effect you hear in the beginning and in the middle of the song. 

Hendrix’ mother was a Cherokee Indian, and in this song, he identifies with his heritage as a Native American.

Hendrix read the words for this song as a poem instead of singing them.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers were all big fans of Jimi Hendrix and often perform this song live

Castles Made Of Sand

Down the street you can hear her scream you’re a disgrace
As she slams the door in his drunken face
And now he stands outside
And all the neighbours start to gossip and drool
He cries oh, girl you must be mad,
What happened to the sweet love you and me had? 
Against the door he leans and starts a scene,
And his tears fall and burn the garden green

And so castles made of sand fall in the sea, eventually

A little Indian brave who before he was ten,
Played war games in the woods with his Indian friends
And he built up a dream that when he grew up
He would be a fearless warrior Indian chief
Many moons passed and more the dream grew strong until
Tomorrow he would sing his first war song and fight his first battle
But something went wrong, surprise attack killed him in his sleep that night

And so castles made of sand melts into the sea, eventually

There was a young girl, whose heart was a frown
‘Cause she was crippled for life,
And she couldn’t speak a sound
And she wished and prayed she could stop living,
So she decided to die
She drew her wheelchair to the edge of the shore
And to her legs she smiled you won’t hurt me no more
But then a sight she’d never seen made her jump and say
Look a golden winged ship is passing my way

And it really didn’t have to stop, it just kept on going…

And so castles made of sand slips into the sea, eventually

Jimi Hendrix – The Wind Cries Mary

This is the softer side of Jimi. I had the American version of Are You Experienced and came across this song and it has always stuck with me. It was written about his girlfriend Kathy Mary Etchingham.

The song peaked at #6 in the UK charts and was the B side to Purple Haze in America. Bob Dylan was one of Hendrix’s biggest influences and it shows…this song has some great imagery.

From Songfacts.

Jimi wrote this in 1967 for Are You Experienced?; it was inspired by his girlfriend at the time, Kathy Mary Etchingham. He’d gotten into an argument with her about her cooking. She got very angry and started throwing pots and pans and finally stormed out to stay at a friend’s home for a day or so. When she came back, Jimi had written “The Wind Cries Mary” for her.

Kathy Mary recalled, “We’d had a row over food. Jimi didn’t like lumpy mashed potato. There were thrown plates and I ran off. When I came back the next day, he’d written that song about me. It’s incredibly flattering.” (Source Q magazine February 2013)

Jimi wrote the song quietly in his apartment and didn’t show it to anybody. After recording “Fire” (which was about his sexual relationship with Kathy), he had 20 minutes to spare in the recording studio, so he showed it to the band. They managed to record it in the 20 minute period they had. The band later recorded several more takes of the song, but they all seemed very sterile and they decided to go with the original recording.

This was the third single from Are You Experienced?. 

A lot of people assumed this was about marijuana, which is also known as “Mary Jane.”

This song begins with a distinctive and recognizable introduction, in which three chromatically ascending ‘five’ chords are played in second inversion. A ‘five’ chord consists of two notes (first or “root,” and fifth) instead of three (root, third and fifth). The missing middle note gives the chord a more ‘open’ or ‘bare’ sound. A second inversion “flips” the notes in the chord, so that the fifth, not the root, is the lowest sounding note. This makes it more difficult for the listener to immediately identify what key the song is being played in. In addition, a syncopated rhythm makes it difficult for the listener to identify the “downbeats” of the song. This combination of musical elements creates a unique and disorienting experience when the song is heard for the first time.

Jamie Cullum covered this song, replacing the guitar part with a jazzy piano. Other artists to record the song include John Mayer, Popa Chubby and Robyn Hitchcock.>>

According to the book Jimi Hendrix: Electric Gypsy, Hendrix wrote this as a very long song, but broke it down to fit the short-song convention and make it radio friendly. Hendrix was concerned that listeners wouldn’t understand the song in its shortened form.

The Wind Cries Mary

After all the jacks are in their boxes
And the clowns have all gone to bed
You can hear happiness staggering on down the street
Footprints dressed in red
And the wind whispers “Mary”

A broom is drearily sweeping
Up the broken pieces of yesterdays life
Somewhere a queen is weeping
And somewhere a king has no wife
And the wind cries “Mary”

The traffic lights they turn blue tomorrow
And shine the emptiness down on my bed
The tiny island sags downstream
Cause the life that lived is dead
And the wind screams “Mary”

Will the wind ever remember
The names it has blown in the past
And with its crutch, its old age, and its wisdom
It whispers no this will be the last
And the wind cries “Mary”

My Favorite Guitarists

Here are some of my favorite guitarists. Being fast is not something I care about… I’ve always liked guitarists who play with feel more than finger tapping.

 

Roger McGuinn, Byrds – He will not rip off lightning licks but he plays the Rickenbacker 12 string like no one else. I like the tone and his understated style.

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Neil Young – This may seem like an odd choice but when Neil plays the electric guitar…anything that can happen will. He plays by feel and feedback and God bless him for that.

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Brian May, Queen– You can hum his solos. One of the most melodic lead guitar players I’ve ever heard.

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Pete Townsend, Who – The king of the power chord. Pete does not have blinding speed but every note he plays is for a purpose.

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Keith Richards, Stones – The Human Riff… When Keith found G tuning the Stones sound changed forever and it may have been the key to their longevity.

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George Harrison, Beatles – After the Beatles, he reinvented himself into a great slide guitar player. Guitar players are still trying to find that tone. He had a great touch and taste in whatever he played.

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Buddy Guy – For electric blues and the tone he gets Buddy Guy is the man. Below is a picture of Buddy at the Festival Express playing a great version of Money.

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Jimi Hendrix – Like Keith Moon…many musicians have tried to copy him but none have. It is controlled chaos but I like it.

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Chuck Berry – Rock and roll owes a lot to him…he has been copied more than anyone.

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Scotty Moore, Elvis – The guitar player backing Elvis on his great 50s hits. Keith Richards said of Moore… Everyone else wanted to be Elvis, I wanted to be Scotty.

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Also

Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, Peter Green, Lindsey Buckingham, BB King, Joe Walsh, Jimmy Page

 

 

 

 

 

Jimi Hendrix – Voodoo Child (Slight Return)

This song explosion is like an atom bomb going off. From the first words “Well, I stand up next to a mountain and I chop it down with the edge of my hand” you know Jimi means business. This is no boy band or pop song…Jimi is shooting to kill. This song is off of the great 1968 Electric Ladyland album. From the tone of the guitar and how he spits out the lyrics, the song is a masterpiece. The guitar riff is one of the best.

Voodoo Child (Slight Return) did not chart in Billboard but did go to #1 in the UK and it was Jimi’s only number 1 single there.

From Songfacts.

This was recorded after Hendrix had finished the long, slow blues of “Voodoo Chile,” a 15-minute jam that appears earlier on the album. An ABC film crew came into the studio to do a piece on The Experience, and told them to “make like you’re playing, boys.” Jimi said, “Okay, let’s do this in E.” The TV footage was lost.

Steve Winwood played organ on this. He was a member of the band Traffic, and often played on the same bill with Hendrix. When Jimi was recording this in New York, he had Winwood come by and play.

This was voted the best guitar riff in rock’n’roll history, by readers of Music Radar. The website said “From its wah-wah into the the rhythm parts and the astonishing solo, this is still regarded by many as the high watermark of electric guitar expression.” Guns n’Roses’ “Sweet Child o’ Mine” came second in the poll and Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” third.

Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”
Well, I stand up next to a mountain
And I chop it down with the edge of my hand
Well, I stand up next to a mountain
And I chop it down with the edge of my hand
Well, I pick up all the pieces and make an island
Might even raise a little sand
Yeah

‘Cause I’m a voodoo child
Lord knows I’m a voodoo child, baby

I want to say one more last thing

I didn’t mean to take up all your sweet time
I’ll give it right back to you one of these days, hahaha
I said I didn’t mean to take up all your sweet time
I’ll give it right back one of these days
Oh yeah
If I don’t meet you no more in this world, then
I’ll meet you in the next one
And don’t be late
Don’t be late

‘Cause I’m a voodoo child, voodoo child
Lord knows I’m a voodoo child, baby

I’m a voodoo child, baby
I don’t take no for an answer
Question no
Lord knows I’m a voodoo child, baby

Oddest Concert Pairings

I have always liked odd mixtures. Anything out of the norm and I pay attention. That is why I blog about the past more than today. I liked the 60’s and 70’s era because houses, cars, and music were for the most part unique. I couldn’t tell a Ford from a Chevy today. A lot of new houses look just alike in cloned neighborhoods.

I would have loved to have been at one of these concerts.

Jimi Hendrix / Monkees 1967 – This is number one on my list. Can you imagine the young Monkee fans hearing the sonic volume of Jimi Hendrix? Jimi had to play while a bunch of 12-year-old girls screamed “We want the Monkees” and “We want Davy. ” It was the sixties and Peter Tork said: “It didn’t cross anybody’s mind that it wasn’t gonna fly.”

The Who / Herman Hermits 1967 – Smash your guitars and drums and Hope I die before I get Old and then Mrs Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter?… You can imagine Peter Noone tripping over shards of guitars every night.

Lynyrd Skynyrd / Queen 1974 – This one is a head-scratcher. The theatrical Queen and the southern boys from Florida just don’t seem a great match. Roger Taylor of Queen had some ugly things to say about Lynyrd Skynyrd later on.

Bruce Springsteen / Anne Murray 1974 – This one is baffling. Anne Murray’s managers demanded that Bruce open the show for Anne in NYC! They argued she was more successful and she was…but this was New York and Bruce Springsteen…what a fatal mistake…halfway through Bruce’s set Anne’s managers regretted their decision. Many of the audience had left by the time Anne took the stage.

The Ramones/Toto 1979 – This one doesn’t make sense at all…what promoter thought this through? The laid-back ToTo fans sat through the Ramones but Toto singer Bobby Kimball, came out and apologized to the crowd for the “horrible band” they had to sit through.

Cher/Gregg Allman 1977 – Yes they were married but what an odd concert to go to. You have Gregg who was one of the best blues singers at that time and Cher…who was Cher…Gregg Allman mentions in his book “My Cross to Bear” that the audience was mixed…some with tuxedos and some with denim jackets and backpacks and there were fights at each show on the tour between the two sets of fans.

Gregg Allman

“It was right after that—the tuxedos against the backpacks, because I think the Allman Brothers outnumbered the Sonny and Chers—that Cher came to me, and the poor thing was just crying. I asked her what was wrong, and she told me, “We’ve got to cancel the rest of the tour, because I can’t stand the fighting.” So we ended it right then, which was about halfway through it. We went home the next day, and that was the last time I ever played with her.”

The Ramones / Ted Nugent, Aerosmith 1979 – Bottles and debris were thrown at The Ramones from the crowd as Johnny Ramone was shooting birds at the audience. 

Johnny Ramone about this concert…

“About five or six songs into the set, the whole crowd stood up, and I thought it had started to rain. Dee Dee thought the same thing, but they were throwing stuff at us – sandwiches, bottles, everything. Then, all of a sudden, I broke two strings on my guitar in one strum. I thought it was a sign from God to get off the stage, because I’d rarely break a string, maybe once a year. So I just walked to the front of the stage, stopped playing, and gave the audience the finger – with both hands. I stood there like that, flipping them off, with both hands out, and walked off. The rest of the band kept playing for another ten or fifteen seconds until they’d realized I was walking off, and then they did too. I wasn’t gonna stand there and be booed and have stuff thrown at us without retaliating in some way. We had to come off looking good somehow, and there was no good way to get out of that.”

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