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... he commercial appeal, but plus the real Hendrix that gave him his true appeal. The next album by The Jimi Hendrix Experience was titled Electric Ladyland, which Hendrix said was a reference to... groupies, but I prefer the term Electric Ladies. My whole Electric Ladyland album is about them (Fairchild, Electric Ladyland 5). Some of the songs on Electric Ladyland, such as Crosstown Traffic and the cover of Bob Dylan's song All Along the Watchtower, mark a departure from the Jimi Hendrix established by Axis: Bold As Love.
Crosstown Traffic is more along the vein of songs included in Are You Experienced? and Hendrix was frustrated that it was released as a single. See, that LP was in certain ways of thinking... They always take out the wrong ones. You find yourself almost running away. People, they dont give me inspiration except bad inspiration, to write songs like Crosstown Traffic, cause thats the way they put themselves in front of me, the way they present themselves, Hendrix said (Fairchild, Electric Ladyland 9).
Despite Hendrix aversion to the commercialization of Crosstown Traffic, he must have been happy that his single of All Along the Watchtower was The Experiences most popular U. S. single ever (Murray 51). All Along the Watchtower was written by Bob Dylan, about whom Hendrix said: Sometimes I do a Dylan song and it seems to fit me so right that I figure maybe I wrote it. I felt like Watchtower was something Id written but could never get together. I often feel that way about Dylan (Fairchild, Electric Ladyland 20).
All Along the Watchtower is a protest song, pure and simple. During this period of the late 1960 s, music had become a popular medium for protest against the Vietnam War, the draft, and the government in general. Hendrix recorded All Along the Watchtower after a period in 1967 in which he wore a military jacket to all of is performances (Fairchild, Electric Ladyland 3). The military jacket represented both Hendrix support of soldiers in the then on-going Vietnam War, and served as a type of protest against the war. Come On, another cover, this time from Earl King, was included on Electric Ladyland and was inspired by five days of anti-Vietnam protesting and rioting in Chicago at the 1968 Democratic National Convention (Fairchild, Electric Ladyland 12 - 13). Despite those tracks, Electric Ladyland also contained many Hendrix originals that were completely ground-breaking.
Perhaps the most representative of the changes that were taking place in him was the almost epic-length blues number Voodoo Chile. Voodoo Chile is Hendrix statement of his own heritage, his refusal to deny himself and, as he said it, dedicated to our friends from West Africa (Fairchild, Electric Ladyland 22). Hendrix biographer Charles Shall Murray said this of Voodoo Chile in his book Crosstown Traffic: The relationship between the blues and Voodoo as a hold-over from West African religious and mystical practice and philosophy has been the subject of at least one first-class book- length study... , but in the context of the life and work of Jimi Hendrix, it is worth reiterating that his self- identification as the Voodoo Chile functions as his statement of black identity: a staking of claim to turf that no white bluesman could even hope to explore, let alone annex. Whether Hendrix intended Voodoo Chile as an explicit challenge to the hegemony of Western rationalism and black American Christian culture is ultimately not the point. That Hendrix was announcing, explicitly and unambiguously, who he thought he was, is (Murray 147). 1983... (A Merman I Should Turn To Be), the eleventh track on Electric Ladyland, is called by Murray: rocks premier work of science fiction; Hendrix was the musics first and funkiest cyberpunk (216). Merman marked the pinnacle of Hendrix producing skills, and Electric Ladyland was the first album that he himself produced.
Merman's lyrics indicate Hendrix increasing agitation with the world. In Tony Glover's November 9, 1968 review of Electric Ladyland for Rolling Stone, he describes Merman: Hendrix vision of the future shows a world torn by war, on the verge of destruction as he and his lady go for a walk by the sea, and dream of living in the water (20). The songs on Electric Ladyland show a marked turn for Hendrix that indicates that as his comfort in his own abilities and heritage grew, the faith that he once had in the world was being torn apart by the Vietnam War and his increasing realization that everything in the world is not necessarily made better by his own success. The social awareness shown on Electric Ladyland was nearly unprecedented, with both of his two earlier albums only hinting at social and cultural malcontent in songs like Axis: Bold As Loves If 6 Was 9. By the time that the next album was ready to be recorded, The Jimi Hendrix Experience was broken up, with Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell moving on to different projects.
Hendrix new band, Band of Gypsy's, included Buddy Miles on drums and Billy Cox on the bass (Alterman 10). The album that they recorded, titled Band of Gypsy's, , represents the least amount of development Hendrix made between any two albums. Band of Gypsy's, the last album that Hendrix would cut and release as a whole during his life, Murray reports that: Hendrix was always ambivalent about the... album, Band of Gypsy's. (54). Band of Gypsy's was a collection of new songs that were recorded at the 1969 New Years Eve party at the Fillmore East in New York City (Murray 54). Lorraine Alterman, a writer for Rolling Stone who attended the party, wrote: Only one number, Machine Gun, stands out as truly exciting.
Hendrix dedicated it to all the soldiers in Detroit, New York, Chicago and, oh yes, Vietnam. Of the other songs, she wrote: The rest of the songs... tend to sound very much alike. Stylistically they arent far from Purple Haze days (Alterman 10).
Through Machine Gun, the towering, explicitly anti-war song, one can begin to interpret Hendrix mentality as he planned that track. The title itself gives away the meaning of the song, and Hendrix had given up all hopes of subtlety. The combination of this song, along with Hendrix new all black band, made it seem to Mike Jeffery, his current manager, that Hendrix was about to sign up with the Black Panther Party (Murray 54 - 55). There were many rumors going around at the time that seemingly substantiated this myth. Lorraine Alterman reported... Hendrix is involved with militant blacks and perhaps this is why he now has an all-black group and has thrown away the gimmicks of his act (10).
After a few shows with his new band, Hendrix called it quits. He said: The Band of Gypsies was outside as far as Im concerned. It was just... going through head changes is what it was, I really couldnt tell I dont know... And here Id been fighting the biggest war I ever fought. In my life.
Inside, you know? (Burks 42). Hendrix got together with The Experience midway through 1970, but they never recorded another album (Burks 40). The Band of Gypsy's was Hendrix failed attempt to become a black rock superstar in an all-black band, the only way in which he could fully be recognized for his greatness at that time in which black superstars were few and far between, especially the rock music. His success in his previous three albums was not as important if the praise that was lavished upon him was because his band included two other white members.
Through the filter of history, though, the praise that Hendrix has been given has been both color- blind (as far as his influence on modern-day rock musicians) and based on his ethnicity (when he is praised as a blues and R&B guitarist). The evolution of the albums of Jimi Hendrix was influenced by multiple occurrences: his early affinity for the blues, the years he spent as a R&B guitarist, his life in Greenwich Village, his trip to London, the Vietnam War, and the years of rioting and protest against war and racial injustice all infused themselves into Jimi's albums. The early commercially and an undeveloped form of Hendrix later song-writing and playing are displayed on Are You Experienced? On the second album, Axis: Bold As Love, Jimi expressed his ethnic individuality, he expanded his musical repertoire, and he began his first voicing's of malcontent.
Electric Ladyland and Axis: Bold As Love mark the apogee of Jimi Hendrix short career. Electric Ladyland combines the pure perfect blues found earlier in Red House on Voodoo Chile, It also shows the pinnacle of his lyrically and musically creative side, with songs like 1983... (A Merman I Should Turn To Be). Despite the fact that his next album, Band of Gypsy's, was a relatively lackluster effort, it does, without a doubt, show a period of Hendrix development in which the pressure of being a star and the many social and societal ills that surrounded him caused a major change. His death in 1970 seemed to indicate a feeling of apathy from Hendrix; he died choking on his own vomit (Anonymous 1). Looking back on his albums, there is definite pattern of personal growth and decay, all influenced by everything that happened around, and inside, the legendary musician we know as Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix music can serve as an accurate interpretation of what was occurring around him, and inside of him, in the music he made at any given time.
He went from a shy R&B sideman to an showboating, behind-the-back- playing guitarist to a man troubled about what was going on around him in the world, societal, cultural, and his own personal forums. The evolution of Jimi Hendrix as an individual contained an increasing acceptance of his racial heritage -- which included culture and music as well as Jimi's broadening awareness of the problems of his day. This chain of events eventually led to his death, but it can be traced by all of us today though the intricate and sublime music of this incredible visionary in the four completed albums he left for us. Bibliography:
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