Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Jimi Hendrix - If 6 was 9

There is something very wrong with the world today. The culture of the west, which frankly I believe to be the best, holds a great problem within. The problem of which I speak is that of identity.

This problem is stranger then anything culturally the human race has ever experienced. In the west we live within a culture that is far more accepting and understanding then any form of civilization that has ever come before. There is choice, freedom, and liberty to all. Yet still people have no idea who they are, their minds and every thought that swims around in their brains is derivative of their friends’, the books they read, and the movies they watch. When all you do is focus yourself on an extreme point of view, never listening to the other side, you are what they call ‘conformed’. The problem at this moment is most complicated because as it stands there are so many different ideas out there in the media that people are constantly conforming to something and it is hard to find the true individuals. The people that say ‘fuck you, I’m not believing your shit until you prove it to me, until then I’ll think what I think is best!’ They don’t have to be so rude mind you, that’s just personal flier.

If you want to see what I’m talking about you need to look no further then MTV or Much Music. The same rehashed; unoriginal, uninspired garbage gets played over and over again, while most good music rarely sees the light of day anymore.

Goths/emos wearing black makeup and all black clothes, whining about how no one understands them, but honestly what is to understand? They state no personal problems, they share no grievances, and the only pain they wear on their face is the desperate cry for attention.

The hip-hop musicians going on about how they are ‘pimps’ and their cool ‘bling’ and all their ‘hoes’, but honestly what is so cool about glorifying all the worst aspects of poverty stricken African-American culture? Pimps are men who basically steal money from whores, they brag about crime, and they treat women like shit.

Lastly, and most hated by me anyway, is all the cry babies who try to be political and couldn’t put two thoughts together with any real coherency going on about how bad the world is. Oh really? What’s so bad about it? War = bad, no shit, thank god I have about a million mindless preteens telling me this, I couldn’t possibly figure out for myself. George Bush = stupid, again no shit, George Bush is proof enough that he is stupid, I don’t need whiny wimps on the ‘left’ coast telling me this. And lastly, and most importantly, they all go on like this: “I don’t care what you say. I’m going to be me!” Translated into honest English this is: “I am so brainwashed into conforming into this group I hate ALL other ways of thinking without ever thinking about it. I am a huge hypocrite!” You know the type, they take many forms these days but they are all the same.

Anyway sorry if this month’s music in review is a little preachy or too over top, I just really hate hypocrites. So on to the point.

You want a real individual, someone who actually did what they wanted, and expressed how they felt, without compromise, you want someone like Jimi Hendrix. Now it is a lot easier to find individuals in the music scene from the sixties and seventies. Back then when you were being political, you actually had a lot to complain about, but more importantly people actually tried to think of solutions to the world’s problems instead of just sitting around blaming the current cabinet in power and crying themselves like lost little children. Furthermore you see a lot of variety in, get this, the ideas put forth, insane I know, it was like they were all, gasp, individuals. More so it was easier, arguably, to create an original sound because the concept of a three to five man rock group was so young there was a lot of room to experiment freshly.

Not a lot of people know this but Jimi Hendrix started his career, playing guitar for Little Richard. The young Jimi Hendrix had a great admiration for Little Richie and began to mimic him in clothing and he even grew his mustache out like Little Richard. Little Richard fired Jimi with this words of wisdom “you are a good kid, and I want what’s best for you, and while imitation is the truest form of flattery, and I am flattered, I want you go out and become someone yourself. Woohooo!” I might have the exact words wrong, it has been a long time since I saw that Hendrix documentary, and I just imagine Little Richie goes woohoo, at the end of every sentence. Well thank god Little Richard is such a cool guy that he set Jimi straight because he would go on to kick serious ass.

Interesting notes about Jimi Hendrix, and I hope I get these all straight are:

Hendrix unlike the vast majority of musician (especially in rock) supported the Vietnam War. I believe he was even enrolled as a paratrooper at one point, but was injured in training, or something, and ended up staying behind.

Hendrix was innovating in a way rarely seen even to this day in regards of playing guitar. I mean come on, the man played with his tongue, his feet, and even suffered third degree burns when he played his guitar while it was on fire. To this day when you hear a guitar rift by Hendrix you say to yourself “Oh that’s so Hendrix” which is commendable, he has a sound that is purely his own. Only the best are granted this accolade, when you hear something mediocre like say Poison, you say, “This sounds like 80’s Hair rock,” or the Young Bloods – “70’s hippie rock.” And so on.

Jimi Hendrix faced racism on every front. The Black Panthers and other “Black Supremacy Groups” constantly pressured Hendrix to fire his band mates and hire black musicians to play with him, because he couldn’t work with, or even be friends with white people, sigh. Hendrix also had to put up with being told he shouldn’t be playing “white music” nor should he be entertaining “white people”. To these absurd statements Hendrix would always say “I only see color in my music.” Which was very big of him. Of course it is not like white people gave Hendrix an easy time either, he was kicked out of many cities for brining with him one of his white girlfriends, there were even times when this almost got him killed.

But still Jimi faced all that adversity and still managed to create three, and sadly only three, albums before his tragic death. He was one of those men when he says something about being an individual you better damn well believe him, because he didn’t have to say he was unique, he was unique, and his life was proof of that. We will never see another man like Jimi Hendrix only cheap, pale, imitations, its been nearly four decades now and you can already see that I’m right. Truly one of a kind, he was something we should all try to be, ourselves, each of us when uncorrupted and true is one of a kind.

Hendrix has a lot of good songs to choose from, but given my rant I ended up choosing the song “If 6 was 9”. The lyrically content is perfect for this vein of discussion. Maybe you could tell but it is something that really bothers me. Because people keep “Pointing their plastic finger at me. They're hoping soon my kind will drop and die, But I'm gonna wave my freak flag high, high.”

Until next month, keep on rocking in the free world.

- Colin Kelly