BY CHRISTOPHER HEIM
Despite having a music career that only spanned four years and four albums total, American singer and songwriter Jimi Hendrix left a huge mark on music that cannot be overstated. Hendrix pioneered the art of electric guitar playing with the Wah-wah pedal and stereophonic phasing effects, and became one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century as a result. In light of the Hendrix biopic “All Is by My Side” coming Sept. 26, here are my top 10 favorite songs by rock’s greatest instrumentalist. (Song-Album Title)
- “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” (“Electric Ladyland”): A great finale to what would tragically turn out to be Hendrix’s last album while he was alive. With an explosive riff (THAT WAH-WAH PEDAL!!), great solos and quotable lyrics like the ominously prophetic (“I didn’t mean to take up your sweet time / going to give it back to you one of these days”); Hendrix created one of the greatest songs ever.
- “Castles Made of Sand” (“Axis: Bold as Love”): A semi-autobiographical song about how everything in life should be appreciated because nothing lasts forever, hence the metaphorical chorus “And castles made of sand fall into the sea eventually”.
- “All Along the Watchtower” (“Electric Ladyland”): A cover so good that even Dylan himself admits it’s better and plays it in a similar manner to Hendrix’s reinterpretation. Now that’s impressive!!
- Purple Haze (“Are You Experienced”): Hendrix’s most famous composition and the archetypical psychedelic rock song of the 60s.
- “Machine Gun” (“Band of Gypsys”): A 12-minute Vietnam-protest jam containing Hendrix’s best guitar solo and a great number of breathtaking guitar effects that resemble the sound of machine guns and helicopters.
- “Foxy Lady” (“Are You Experienced”): Whenever I listen to this great track, I envision the hilarious scene from “Wayne’s World” in which Garth lip-synchs this song in order to woo a beautiful lady.
- “Little Wing” (“Axis: Bold as Love”): Clocking in at a short and sweet two and a half minutes, it is Hendrix’s most concise song with its soulful chord progression and melodic closing guitar solo.
- “Hey Joe” (“Are You Experienced”): Hendrix’s break-out single tells the harrowing story of a man who is on the run and planning to head to Mexico after shooting his wife.
- “Angel” (“First Rays of the New Rising Sun”): A cut from his un-released fourth LP, this touching account of a dream Hendrix had about his mother represents his finest ballad.
- “Freedom” (“The Cry of Love”): A great R&B-style jam from his first posthumous album.