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Authors: Jimi Hendrix

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C
RITICS REALLY GIVE ME A PAIN IN THE NECK. It’s like shooting at a flying saucer as it tries to land, without giving the occupants a chance to
identify themselves! There’ll always be somebody who wants to nail you down. They come back to the dressing room with a kind of
“let’s strip him naked and hang
him from a tall tree”
attitude. Most of them go away so stoned they don’t know what they’re writing about.

They are already classifying us on the basis of one album and perhaps one or two concerts they’ve heard. It’s not easy to classify us, but sure as hell they are going to try! Like,
somebody called me the “Black Elvis.” It’s the establishment’s game. Pat us on the back and get rid of us quick. Squeeze the soul out of us and put us in cages for the rest
of our lives. But we won’t be put in! We don’t pay attention to brand names like that. Once they have you thinking about yourself, they have you by the balls.

Something different like the Experience comes along, and a lot of labelers are frightened by it. They want to put you in little bags. If they can’t put you in a bag, then they’re
frightened and don’t know what to do. Quite naturally they’re going to start little rumors about people they don’t understand, like
“Jimi Hendrix is sullen, he’s
always stoned, he drinks watermelon juice with his coffee, he uses shower curtains for toilet paper.”
This is what the negative folks are trying to tell you. They project a certain image
so everybody gets scared to actually know about me.

It’s going to take time to reach these labelers with our sounds. For starters I don’t think you should try to dissect the musical and the visual. People who put down our performance
are people who can’t use their eyes and ears at the same time. They’ve got a button on their shoulder blades that keeps only one working at a time. You feel they’re kind of
afflicted, like a cat who can’t watch TV and chew gum.
Damn them and those crummy bird-crumb snatchers who say I don’t really play with my teeth!

 

W
HEN WE GOT TOGETHER IN ENGLAND we didn’t say, “All right, now we’re going to play this song, I think I’ll go down on my
knees, and Mitch, you twirl your sticks there, and Noel, you put the bass on top of your head.” We just got thrown together. We didn’t know each other from Adam, and all these things
started happening.

What it is, is self-satisfaction.
We’re playing for the audience, but I have to entertain myself too. And I’m working for that note to come out a little
different. Sometimes I have to wind it up physically to feel that note. If I feel like putting the guitar down and stepping on it, I’ll do it. Same with Noel. He plays his guitar any kind of
way he feels.

If I stopped moving around because some people were distracted from the music, I would be dishonest and give myself ten points less. We might play sometimes just standing there. Sometimes we do
the whole diabolical bit when we’re in the studio and there’s nobody to watch. It’s how we feel. How we feel, and getting the music out. The sooner people understand that the
better.

 

And I think it’s time for people to understand that we are not always in the same bag with each performance.
How can you be when you are constantly
reaching, improvising, experimenting? It’s impossible. In the old days we used to go on with a list, but pretty soon I threw the list away because I didn’t feel like it.
Spontaneity is what I could best term it. We are constantly growing in this spontaneity. This whole thing’s going to blow wide open soon.

Things have to go through me, and I have to show my feelings as soon as they’re there. That’s why when we played at Monterey I decided to burn my
guitar. I’d just finished painting the guitar that day and was really into it. I sprayed lighter fluid on it and then stamped out the burning pieces.
It
went over pretty well, so in Washington, D.C., I destroyed my guitar again.
When we played the Hollywood Bowl they were waiting for us with fire
extinguishers!

 

T
HE SMASHING ROUTINE BEGAN BY ACCIDENT. I was playing in Copenhagen, and I got pulled off stage. Everything was going great. I threw my guitar back
onto the stage and jumped back after it. When I picked it up there was a great crack down the middle. I just lost my temper and smashed the damn thing to pieces.

The crowd went mad – you’d have thought I’d found the “lost chord” or something. After that, whenever the press was about or I got that feeling, I just did the bit
again. But it isn’t just for the show, and I can’t explain the feeling. It’s just like you want to let loose and do exactly what you want if your parents weren’t
watching.

I’m not really a violent man, but people got the impression I was because of the act. You do this destruction thing maybe three or four times, and everybody thinks you do it all the time.
We only do it when we feel like it. You feel very frustrated, and the music gets louder and louder, and all of a sudden, crash, bang, it goes up in smoke. Some nights we can be really bad. If we
smash something up then, it’s because that instrument, which is something you dearly love, just isn’t working that night. It’s not responding, so you want to kill it. It’s a
love-hate relationship, just like you feel at times when your girlfriend starts messing around. You can do it because the music and the instrument can’t fight back.

It’s just the bad bits coming out in me. I mean, no matter how sweet and lovely you are, there are black and ugly things deep down somewhere. I bring mine out on stage, and that way no one
gets hurt. And we find that it works for the audience too. We try to drain all the violence out of their systems. We mostly build on bar patterns and emotion, not melody. We can play violent music,
and in a way it releases their violence. It’s not like beating it out of each other, but like violent silk. I mean, sadness can be violent.

Maybe after people dig us presenting some violence on stage they won’t want to leave and destroy the outside world. Feeling vibrations and letting loose at a place like that is a
soul-bending type of thing. It’s better than bending your soul in riots.
You should never get to that point.

{THE SUMMER OF 1967 WAS MARRED BY THE WORST RACIAL VIOLENCE OF THE DECADE. THE EXPERIENCE PLAYED IN DETROIT ON AUGUST 15, SHORTLY AFTER RACE RIOTS HAD DEVASTATED MUCH OF THE
CITY AND LEFT FORTY-TWO DEAD.}

 

T
HE NEGRO RIOTS IN THE STATES ARE CRAZY. Discrimination is crazy. I think we can live together without these problems, but because of the violence
these problems aren’t solved yet. There’s a lot of silly talk on both sides. Quite naturally I don’t like to see houses being burned, but I don’t have too much feeling for
either side right now.

There is no such thing as a color problem. It is a weapon for the negative forces who are trying to destroy the country. They make black and white fight against each other so they can take over
at each end. That is what the establishment is waiting for. They let you fight, they let you go out into the streets and riot. But they’ll still put you in jail. I wish they’d had
electric guitars in the cotton fields back in the good old days. A whole lot of things would have been straightened out, not just for the black and white, but I mean for the cause.

 

L
OOK AT THE SKY TURN A HELL-FIRE RED
, L
ORD

S
OMEBODY’S HOUSE IS BURNING

DOWN, DOWN, DOWN, DOWN
.

 

W
ELL
, I
ASKED MY FRIEND
,

“W
HERE IS THAT BLACK SMOKE COMING FROM
?”

H
E JUST COUGHED AND CHANGED THE SUBJECT AND SAID
,

“U
H, IT MIGHT SNOW SOME
.”

 

S
O
I
LEFT HIM SIPPING HIS TEA

AND
I
JUMPED IN MY CHARIOT AND RODE OFF

T
O SEE JUST WHY AND WHO COULD IT BE THIS TIME
.

S
ISTERS AND BROTHERS
,
DADDIES
,

MOTHERS STANDIN

ROUND CRYING
.

W
HEN
I
REACHED THE SCENE THE FLAMES

WERE MAKING A GHOSTLY WHINE
.

S
O
I
STOOD ON MY HORSE

S
BACK

A
ND
I
SCREAMED WITHOUT A CRACK
,

I
SAY
, “O
H BABY
,
WHY

D
YOU
BURN

Y
OUR BROTHER

S
HOUSE DOWN
?”

 

W
ELL
,
SOMEONE STEPPED FROM THE CROWD
,

H
E WAS NINETEEN MILES HIGH
.

H
E SHOUTS
, “W
E

RE
TIRED AND DISGUSTED
,

SO WE PAINT RED THROUGH THE SKY
.”

I
SAY
, “T
HE TRUTH IS STRAIGHT AHEAD
,

S
O
D
ON

T
BURN YOURSELF INSTEAD
,

T
RY TO LEARN INSTEAD OF BURN
,
HEAR WHAT
I
SAY
!”

 

You know where the truth is. The truth is that it’s time to get together now! If people would only stop blaming. You can see how frustrating it is. The black person argues with the white
person that he’s been treated badly for the last two hundred years. Well, he has, but now’s the time to work it out instead of talking about the past. We know that the past is all
screwed up, so instead of talking about it, let’s get things together now!

AUGUST 8, 1967,
BURNING OF THE MIDNIGHT LAMP
RELEASED IN THE U.S.}

I really don’t care what our records do as far as chart-wise.
Burning Of The Midnight Lamp
, which everyone around here hated, only made number eleven in the charts. They said that
was the worst record, but to me that was the best one we ever made. I think it’s a very groovy record. I’m glad it didn’t get big and get thrown around. A lot of nice records get
abused through the charts. They throw them up to the top three, and then they come right back down. It might have been a nice record, but nobody will remember it two weeks from now.

I don’t think that people really understood
Burning Of The Midnight Lamp
. Maybe it’s a little murky in there, a bit smoky, but it’s the kind of disc you put down and go
back to. When I first heard Procol Harum’s
Whiter Shade Of Pale
, the meaning was very muddy. I understood about the first verse and that was all. But as you hear it again and again,
you begin to put the thing together.

I wrote part of that song on a plane between L.A. and New York and finished it in the studios in New York. There are some very personal things in there. I was feeling kind of down. But I think
that everyone can understand the feeling that when you’re traveling, no matter what your address, there is no place you can call home. The feeling of a man in a little old house in the middle
of a desert where he is burning the midnight lamp. You don’t mean for things to be personal all the time, but that’s the way it is …

 

T
HE MORNING IS DEAD AND THE DAY IS TOO
.

T
HERE

S
NOTHING LEFT HERE TO GREET ME BUT THE VELVET MOON
.

A
LL MY LONELINESS
I
HAVE FELT TODAY
.

I
T

S
A LITTLE MORE THAN ENOUGH TO MAKE

A MAN THROW HIMSELF AWAY
.

A
ND
I
CONTINUE TO BURN THE
M
IDNIGHT
L
AMP
,
ALONE
.

 

N
OW THE SMILING PORTRAIT OF YOU

I
S STILL HANGING ON MY FROWNING WALL

B
UT IT REALLY DOESN

T
,
REALLY DOESN

T BOTHER ME
,
TOO
MUCH AT ALL
.

I
T

S JUST THE EVER FALLING DUST THAT MAKES IT SO HARD FOR ME TO SEE

T
HAT FORGOTTEN EARRING LAYING ON THE FLOOR

F
ACING COLDLY TOWARDS THE DOOR

A
ND
I
CONTINUE TO BURN THE
M
IDNIGHT
L
AMP ALL ALONE
.

 

 

I can’t stay in one place too long. It drags me down, regardless of what’s happening. I’m scared of vegetating. I have to move on. There’s so much to see and so many
places to go. I wish I could travel all the time. I was in England longer than I’ve stayed in any one place, other than New York. I dig Britain, but I haven’t really got a home
anywhere.
The Earth’s my home.

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