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Posts Tagged ‘jimi hendrix’

“Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”

Posted by purplemary54 on November 27, 2015

Today is the anniversary of the day Jimi Hendrix was transported to this planet to do that voodoo he did so exceedingly well.

I won’t go on about his talent; I’ve done it before, and not half as well as anyone else.  But I do like the idea that he was an alien.  It helps give people something to hang his unexplainable singularity on.  The same applies to Albert Einstein.  Why else would his thinking and vision be so revolutionary?  You could even hang the alien label onto William Shakespeare, or Vincent Van Gogh. Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson?  Aliens.  How else would they have basically created the blueprint of modern poetry so separately (and so drastically differently)?  Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt?  Yep, them too.

There’s so much about individuals like this that defies explanation.  How did such extraordinary talent and charisma and intelligence come to be?  Calling them beings not of this planet, extraterrestrials that were somehow delivered to humanity for some unknown reason, gives the more ordinary among us an excuse to continue being ordinary.  It’s okay to be an average person when you were born amongst other average persons, while these creatures drifted to us on some ethereal spacecraft.

They aren’t really aliens, of course.  While I do believe life exists on other planets, I’m not so sure about any of it ever showing up here.  Hendrix, like all the others I listed, were just extraordinarily gifted people who managed to discover and use their gifts.  Not all people are so lucky.  Some people never find what they’re best at, or they’re never given the tools to access their gifts.  Or, worse, they’re not determined or disciplined enough to do the hard work of nurturing their gifts.  So while we celebrate the music that Hendrix gave us in his short time on this planet, mourn a little for all the Jimi’s that didn’t get that chance.

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Repost: “The Wind Cries Mary”

Posted by purplemary54 on November 16, 2015

I got nothing today, but it’s really windy again (we lost a pretty big branch from one of the trees), so I thought I’d recycle this post.  Sadly, in spite of the song title, the wind is still not calling my name.

While I haven’t heard any otherworldly voices calling my name, it’s been pretty darn blustery today. It’s not the nasty, hot Santa Ana winds we had last week (thank goodness!), but it’s really blowing out there in my area.

I’ve never really liked wind. I understand the ecological necessity of it, I just find it terribly annoying. For one thing, no matter how short my hair is and no matter which direction I happen to be heading, the wind always blows my hair into my face. Always. And since I’ve had potted plants outside, I’m constantly setting the poor little things back up when the wind blows them over. It’s to the point where I won’t keep anything taller than a couple inches on the porch, because it’ll end up on its side. (My brother and sister-in-law have a huge cactus–nearly as tall as me–that fell over in last week’s Santa Anas. I wonder if they picked it up?)

Wind is noisy, too. I don’t mean the cool whooooo sound that happens when it blows under the crack of the front door (or any other tiny space); that’s actually pretty awesome. And I’m not complaining about the wind chimes (although I’m wondering if any of my immediate neighbors want to). But the sound of broken gates banging into cinderblock fences, or the various clacks and rattles of general detritus and debris gets pretty old after a while. Not to mention the constant whooshing and the way the house creaks when it gets really, really gusty.

I suppose if I flew kites today would be one of my favorite days ever. And I’m sure something must be getting pollinated out there. But my cats are a little on edge, and I’m tired of picking up plants. I’d like to put in my request for Spring to get things accomplished with a little less force. A nice breeze, but nothing over 10 MPH, please.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I hear someone calling my name.

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“The Wind Cries Mary”

Posted by purplemary54 on May 6, 2014

While I haven’t heard any otherworldly voices calling my name, it’s been pretty darn blustery today.  It’s not the nasty, hot Santa Ana winds we had last week (thank goodness!), but it’s really blowing out there in my area.

I’ve never really liked wind.  I understand the ecological necessity of it, I just find it terribly annoying.  For one thing, no matter how short my hair is and no matter which direction I happen to be heading, the wind always blows my hair into my face.  Always.  And since I’ve had potted plants outside, I’m constantly setting the poor little things back up when the wind blows them over.  It’s to the point where I won’t keep anything taller than a couple inches on the porch, because it’ll end up on its side.  (My brother and sister-in-law have a huge cactus–nearly as tall as me–that fell over in last week’s Santa Anas.  I wonder if they picked it up?)

Wind is noisy, too.  I don’t mean the cool whooooo sound that happens when it blows under the crack of the front door (or any other tiny space); that’s actually pretty awesome.  And I’m not complaining about the wind chimes (although I’m wondering if any of my immediate neighbors want to).  But the sound of broken gates banging into cinderblock fences, or the various clacks and rattles of general detritus and debris gets pretty old after a while.  Not to mention the constant whooshing and the way the house creaks when it gets really, really gusty.

I suppose if I flew kites today would be one of my favorite days ever.  And I’m sure something must be getting pollinated out there.  But my cats are a little on edge, and I’m tired of picking up plants.  I’d like to put in my request for Spring to get things accomplished with a little less force.  A nice breeze, but nothing over 10 MPH, please.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I hear someone calling my name.

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“Mannish Boy”

Posted by purplemary54 on February 26, 2014

I’ve decided this is my new favorite version of this song.

This is not to knock the original version by the incomparable Muddy Waters.  His will always be the definitive version of “Mannish Boy.”  But it’s formidable.  It’s heavy, both literally and figuratively.  The drums and bass pound into your skull like a sledgehammer.  Waters voice calls out like a preacher from his pulpit, and there are very few listeners who are not converted by the end.  But all his boasting and bragging is kind of off-putting; if I met a man like him, I wouldn’t give him a second glance.

But Jimi Hendrix’s version is, well, fun.  He tones down the heavy rhythm, and speeds it up just a little, and naturally makes the guitar the foremost instrument.  He makes it swing.  This guy sounds like he’s playful and sexy.  I’d at least let this guy buy me a drink, trade a few jokes with him.  This version is from the posthumous release Blues, which helps paint a fuller picture of both Hendrix’s musical roots and his spectacular ability to innovate and create new sounds.  I hate that his star burned out too soon, but we’re still getting light from it many years later.

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A Double Dose of Birthday Goodness!

Posted by purplemary54 on November 27, 2012

Holy crap!  Today also would’ve been Jimi Hendrix’s 70th birthday.  (Let that thought blow your mind for a moment, I’ll wait.)

Every time a poll or a list of the Greatest Rock Guitarists comes out, Hendrix is on top.  (If it’s a typical list, then Eric Clapton or Jimmy Page is second.  If it’s an accurate list, the Duane Allman is second.)  No one could do what Jimi did.  No one could conceive of the guitar the way Jimi did.  I don’t know if it’s because he strung his guitar backward to play left-handed, or if he was simply that prodigiously talented (probably the talent).  The theory I’ve always like best is that he was not of this Earth.  Jimi Hendrix was from another planet.  It’s the simplest and fastest explanation for what he was and did.

Yeah.  He was from another planet.

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Vote or Shut Up!

Posted by purplemary54 on June 5, 2012

It’s primary voting day here in California.  Which is why I’m reposting this slightly edited post from February.  Voting makes me feel so American.

“The Star-Spangled Banner”

One of Whitney Houston’s star turns was her performance of the National Anthem at the Super Bowl in 1991.  She had the style of voice and just enough vocal range to knock it out of the park, a truly fine performance of a song that I consider almost unsingable.  The reminder that she did it well made me think of other times I’ve heard excellent performances of our National Anthem.  There was a common denominator to the ones I picked out.

First of all, since “The Star-Spangled Banner” is unsingable except by someone with a remarkable voice and vocal range (think opera, not pop/rock), instrumental/orchestral versions are almost always superior.  But of the times I’ve heard it sung more than passably by a popular singer, Whitney Houston and Marvin Gaye are the two that come to mind.  And instrumentally, I am especially partial to Jimi Hendrix’s sunrise anthem at Woodstock (god bless the solid body electric guitar).  And it suddenly dawned on me that all the versions of “The Star-Spangled Banner” I find truly inspiring (well, the ones that don’t involve either patriotic events or small children) are all by African-Americans.  It’s an interesting coincidence.

Race relations in the United States, especially between blacks and whites, are difficult to discuss.  It’s such an emotional, complicated topic that even today, when we have an African-American president, it is impossible to come to any sort of resolution.  Of course, that may be because there is no resolution yet.  Racism will always exist, and those of us who believe in equality and freedom will always have to battle people who think ignorance and bigotry are a god-given right.  We fought a horrible civil war largely over the racist institution of slavery.  We had to amend the Constitution to make sure that black people were given the same civil rights as white people.  We’ve had to bring in military troops just so black students could attend school with white students.  The Supreme Court had to rule that there is no such thing as “separate but equal” before racist laws were struck down.  There is nothing about the history of black-white relations in this country that is not somehow tinged with (often bloody) struggle.

I used to wonder when I was younger why so many African-Americans made everything about race, why they were always bringing it in to every conversation and discussion.  And then it dawned on me (thank you Ralph Ellison): It’s always about race for black people because white people never, ever let them forget that they’re black.  They’re not the ones making it about race; it’s a white-dominated society with its institutionalized racism making it about race.

Which makes the fact that these performances of our National Anthem especially poignant.  It’s not something that gets highlighted very often, and I’ll bet Whitney, Marvin, and Jimi were well aware of it.  They understood the power they had–the power of their talent–to bring people together for those few moments.  And they knew how important it was that they were Americans.  Black Americans.  That it wasn’t about the color of their skin or even the content of their characters in that moment.  They were simply Americans, singing their National Anthem for other Americans.

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