Wednesday, September 9, 2009

number four

4. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced. I am going to go out on a limb, and proclaim that Jimi Hendrix was the coolest son of a bitch in the history of rock. A lot of people believe he was the greatest rock guitarist ever, and I agree, but even more importantly in my mind, he was a cool son of a bitch. And that was reflected in his music. For all the acclaim his guitar-playing received, he was a pretty damn good singer too, and an amazing songwriter. "Little Wing" - hell of a song.

Unfortunately, it doesn't appear on Are You Experienced, but that's one of the few flaws of this album. I still remember the first time I heard "Purple Haze": riding in the carpool to high school, with Shane DiMaio's mother driving. Greatest song of all time? It's certainly up there. And without question, the opening guitar solo ... to my mind, it kind of summarizes rock and roll, in the space of about 10 seconds. It's rock boiled down to its essence. And somehow, Jimi found a way to rock hard in so many different ways, without ever sounding like he was borrowing from his other work. "Fire" sounds completely different from "Foxey Lady," which sounds completely different from "Manic Depression." And "Hey Joe" is completely different in a different way. But put them all together, and it creates one of the most memorable albums of all time.

It's kind of hard to believe Jimi was only 27 when he died. Sweet Jesus, what would he had done if he'd lived for even 5 more years? Or was alive now? He'd only be 67 years old. Just barely drawing Social Security. Playing the guitar with his gums, and then smashing it with his walker. But somehow, he would still make it look cool. Damn ...

1 comment:

CTV said...

not on my list but I like this pick. And this is a great album.

I recently was coerced into watching the Woodstock movie (the original) by my in-laws. I had heard about Hendrix rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, but had never really listened to it, much less seen it performed. I thought -- how good can it be? Well, it blew my mind. He throws all kinds of crazy feedback and noise into it (including Taps!!) but somehow it all holds together. For perhaps the first time in my life, I wish I had been at Woodstock. At least for that 3 1/2 minutes.