Sunday, March 08, 2009

Rock of Ages: Jimi Hendrix Experience - "The Wind Cries Mary" (1967)

Jimi Hendrix is the man responsible for making the Electric guitar cool. No one else can stake this claim. In 1967 when the Jimi Hendrix Experience's stellar debut Are You Experienced? was released, rock and roll guitar playing changed forever. You could say that the wailings of "Purple Haze" or the fast pacing of "Fire" or "Manic Depression" are the most notable Hendrix tunes, but I think it's in the simply sublime structure of "The Wind Cries Mary" that Jimi's true prowess on record is shown. The other tracks are much more intense live and his bravado for stage antics makes songs like "Foxey Lady" enhanced by his live recordings and films. "The Wind Cries Mary" stands on it's own. It's also the most poetic of Jimi Hendrix's songs lyrically. Dylan inspirado aside, Jimi still weaves a poem of lost love and how both sides of this relationship are missing the other half.

One of my all time favorite lines in a song comes from this fine track. "A broom is drearily sweeping up the broken pieces of yesterdays life" is one of those lines that just stays with you. The imagery is fantastic and the emotion of the lyric definitely hits you hard. The image of "happiness shuffling on down the street" is pretty depressing. When the thing that makes you happy shuffles away, it makes it even more emotional. Hendrix guitar playing, although elaborate and fantastic, is very subdued. Not any distortion or too many effects on this track give it an honest tone. The bluesy tone mirrors the bluesy, yet psychedelic lyrics. It's definitely Hendrix's finest achievment all around. The band also backs him up with mild but structured ryhthm which swells and sways as the song progresses. Obviously we all know the fate of Jimi Hendrix, but he left us with one of rock musics most subtle and sublime tracks.

Up Next: Van Morrison ventures in the slipstream

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