Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Jimi Hendrix plays the National Anthem

Jimi Hendrix died way, way too young. He had so much more music left inside him!
by Charlie Leck

I watched an extraordinary documentary by PBS yesterday. HEAR MY TRAIN A’ COMIN’ is about Jimi Hendrix and his, unfortunately, short life. What a musician he was and could he play an electric guitar. The documentary was both wonderful and terribly sad. He lived far too short a life and had so many more songs inside him yet. I was blown away by the playing of the National Anthem at Woodstock in ’69. I shivered and trembled during this incredible rendition. You can watch a You Tube video of it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wt3cYpFLJiM

The Hendrix version of the National Anthem drew pretty heavy criticism from literalists and confused patriots. Since then, performers have taken great liberty when presenting the song at events, celebrations and festivals. The Hendrix performance goes above and beyond them all in beauty and meaning. You have to remember that it was ’69 and chaos ruled in America. It was the very reason for Woodstock. The anthem is a screeching, screaming, crying rendition for a nation divided and in peril; and for a flag in danger of falling. It was six o’clock in the morning at Woodstock and most of the crowd had gone off. The grounds looked like a battlefield that had been torn up and badly stained by war. Out, over it rang Hendrix’s National Anthem and the exhausted fans who remained were moved to tears or screams of pain and sadness. This is a moment well worth watching and it is much more visual and mysterious in the PBS documentary than on the You Tube video. I think it could be called a very special moment in music history.

You can watch the two hour PBS documentary on-line by just signing up with PBS (no charge) at http://video.pbs.org/video/2365112662/


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