"I believe I am more a musician than a songwriter. I only write my own songs because I don’t want to do other people’s. (…) I don’t consider myself a songwriter, but I would love to be recognized as such."
Reading these words from Jimi (Jimi Hendrix - Sarting At Zero, Bloomsbury Publishing) before listening to this humble playlist of coversignites the affectionate intent to prove Jimi wrong. Oh yes, you were/are a songwriter, and those (anyone) who can leave aside the legend, the guitar playing, and your iconic/tragic journey should listen carefully to your music and your lyrics to know you were way too modest for our own good. AND — while you said you wouldn’t do other people’s music — when you did, you instantly made it your own, as if the original composers of Wild Thing, All Along The Watchtower, or Hey Joe were just emissaries of the cosmos for you to fuse with it all, making it yours and ours in return.
This playlist, titled "(Searching for) Jimi Hendrix, a Room Full Of Covers", has a short history. Most of the songs selected were already on my mind (and paper) for a side-project (to the book and film project « Jimi Hendrix - Starting At Zero - His Own Story ») that was dear to Alan Douglas (a playlist and article is also to be found on GetUp.Radio about Douglas). The day before he passed away, Alan actually made me swear to — somehow — get this « selection » released. For Alan Douglas, a friend and expert of Jimi’s entire body of work, Jimi was an incredible composer and songwriter. And when I had him listen to about 25 tracks I had pre-compiled — some he knew, some he had no frigging clue they existed — there was an expression of renewed enthusiasm and astonishment that enlightened his then 81-year-old face.
"Everything’s all mixed up. It’s a mixture of rock, blues and jazz, a music that’s still developing, that’s just now coming, a music of the future. If it must be a tag, I’d like it to be called “Free Feeling”. It’s a mixture of rock, freak-out, blues and rave music. My rock-blues-funky-freaky sound." That’s something Jimi also said about his music. That and more could apply to the unlimited spectrum of artists, genres and energies that dared to « cover » Jimi’s gems. The playlist "line-up" speaks for itself.
This must be a truly humbling enterprise for any musician to embark on the idea of giving his/her/their versions of the work of such a genius and unmatchable talent. The only ambition or pretext of this selection is to help listeners realize Jimi was not just the WAY too soon lost guitar hero. « Professional ambition ? - I want to be the first man to write about the blues scene on Venus », Jimi answered a journalist in a famous tongue-in-cheek interview. Message fully received, Jimi.
Well, down here on Earth, there are some renditions of your music by others, most of which hopefully pay great enough respect to it all, while some others are fun or clever enough to swallow the heresy pill !
The opener is not a cover, but a homage to Jimi by the Last Poets, pioneers of what is now called rap, and the closing track to this playlist is one of the most brilliant samples of Jimi serving hip-hop maestros Digital Underground. We trust Jimi would have dug those for sure.
May this selection, at the very least, nurture the obvious fact that you are an incredible composer and songwriter, unique at that, too.