Here’s something you don’t hear every day…

Jimi Hendrix was one hell of a good…rythym player.

He really was. Where his solo playing was all blues/ pentatonic scale– based (much like everyone else), his chording had a very delicate and decorative flair to it. Lots of Baroque-style trills and flairs added to chord suspensions, and a very melodic sensibility. Very J.S. Bach.


This is the final exam for my three Learning Connection guitar students. Kind of advanced for a 101 course, but they surprised me by not exactly being beginners; hence the not-exactly-for-beginners final.

Five major chords, one measure each, keep the rythym smooth and steady. It’s not so much the chords themselves but the changing from one to the next, in proper time, that causes the crying and knashing of teeth.

Those chords also happen to be the changes to Hey Joe, from Jimi’s first album ( Are You Experienced, Reprise Records, 1967 ) The students are aware of that, and that I certainly didn’t expect anyone to cover Jimi’s version; just give me five chords, first position, keep a nice even tempo, …and repeat…

I was pondering whether to make CD copies for them to practice with, and then said…oh hell, they can get that themselves, if they’re interested. I really just meant it to be an exercise, anyway.

The crying and knashing will commence this evening, 6 pm sharp.

But it did serve to get me listening to the old chestnut again, in never-ending appreciation. Jimi was freaking awesome. A little dated, naturally, but the creative spark is just timeless.

It also served to get me to ponder the lyrics to Hey, Joe

Mother of God. It’s a song about a guy who kills his girlfriend and tries to escape to Mexico.

Why was that OK in 1967?… no one said a word about it….nowadays, the guy who wrote that would be on a Homeland Security watchlist. He couldn’t get on a plane. He couldn’t get off a plane. There’d be a mandatory background check, and Dr. Phil would do a two-day taping to examine him.

And what about the first line? ” Hey Joe, where you going with that gun in your hand?” In 1967, apparently just a pleasant bit of conversation…today, a Senate sub-committee demanding to know why he didn’t call 911…was it because he knew him? Was it because he was involved? Was he a Democrat? Where is his birth certificate?

But to just listen to the song… the dynamics build very slowly to a wonderful crescendo… gloriously angelic background singing…spirited rythym section…great soloing… hell , by the end of this thing, I’d go shoot her myself if it would help him get across the border any sooner. “ No, you go ahead, Joe, I’ve got this…and here, take my Rosetta Stone Spanish Edition…and shoot the guy, too? Well sure, might as well…seeing as how I’m out already…you take care, now. Buh-by.”

Yep. That Jimi Hendrix sure had a way with a song…

Published in: on February 27, 2013 at 3:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

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