Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Are you Experienced?

I have been, and am, listening to Jimi Hendrix. I've long loved Hendrix: in the 1960s he, Joplin, the Doors, John Lennon, among others, were my music. When Jimi and Janis died I began to drift away from rock; I didn't know who Bruce Springsteen was, at first, when my good friend Lou mentioned "The Boss" to me. By then I was into Beethoven, Tchaikovskii and Stravinsky, and was getting into jazz (Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young).

Over the years I listened to rock now and then. I liked Living Colour when my sons were growing up (mid 1980s, I'd guess); Cult of Personality was, I think, their biggest, certainly a big, hit. There were others I liked, but not much. Living Color reminded me of Hendrix; Jimi was the standard, the (in modern terminology) metric. Stevie Ray Vaughn I dug a lot. Eric Clapton I always liked. George Harrison put out albums over the years, and I liked him. Once Lennon was gone, taken, my exile, or separation, from rock and roll was certain.

Yet the memories remained, and from time to time I'd listen to my old Hendrix albums: Band of Gypsies and Live in the West are the two I still have. Recently I returned to listen; the progression is a bit blurry, because I did not make note of it happening, I just took CDs from HWPL and listened.

It began with SRV. Stevie Ray Vaughn: I remember when he was killed in the accident; I was into Clapton at that time. I also remember being into SRV (I'd see him on Austin City Limits), and was hurt deeply by his passing. SRV reminded me a lot of Hendrix; in fact, SRV idolized Jimi, and played his music a lot.

I came back to SRV from the biography of John Hammond that I read, The producer : John Hammond and the soul of American music . Hammond recorded Bessie Smith, Lady Day, Prez, Basie, Dylan, Springsteen and SRV.

From SRV I moved to Hendrix, to Marley, and, now, deeply into Jimi. So, there it be.

Yet it is more than just listening to music, I think. There is very little 1960s music I can tolerate; when I hear WFUV playing, I cringe, keep myself from retching, and move on. Only some of the music is tolerable, and that which is, is more than tolerable: it is fun, enjoyable, pleasurable.

This past weekend, as I drove upstate, a thought flashed in my brain: I am here, riding in my station-wagon, 55, listening to Hendrix on a CD. It seemed, well, cool, neat (no, I won't say ... cringe ... groovy).

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