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Authors: Jimi Hendrix

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A LITTLE BOY INSIDE A DREAM

JUST THE OTHER DAY

HIS MIND FELL OUT OF HIS FACE

AND THE WIND BLEW IT AWAY.

A HAND CAME OUT FROM HEAVEN

AND PINNED A BADGE ON HIS CHEST

AND SAID
GET OUT

THERE, MAN,

AND DO YOUR BEST.

[I
N
M
AY
1961, J
IMMY WAS ARRESTED FOR RIDING IN A STOLEN CAR
.
H
E WAS GIVEN A TWO-YEAR SUSPENDED SENTENCE AFTER THE PUBLIC DEFENDER
TOLD THE JUDGE THAT
J
IMMY WAS GOING TO ENLIST IN THE ARMED FORCES
.]

 

Jimmy to the judge:

 

“Yes, Sir.

I’ve been thinking about being a Screaming Eagle.”

 

I was eighteen. I didn’t have a cent in my pocket. I’d just spent seven days in the cooler for taking a ride in a stolen car, though I never knew it was stolen. I figured I’d
have go in the army sooner or later, so I walked into the first recruiting office I saw and volunteered. I was thinking about playing then. I was slightly playing. I knew about four songs on the
guitar. You know, the usual rumble. I wanted to get everything over with before I tried to get into music as a career, so they wouldn’t call me up in the middle of something that might be
happening.

I had no musical training, so I couldn’t sign up as a musician. I figured I might as well go all the way, so I joined the airborne. I did it because I was bored, but the army taught me
what boredom is. There’s nothing more monotonous than spending a whole day peeling potatoes.

 

I hated the army immediately.

{SOME TIME AFTER LUCILLE’S DEATH, A FRIEND OF AL’S, WILLENE, MOVED INTO
THE HENDRIX HOUSEHOLD, TOGETHER WITH HER DAUGHTER, WILLETTE.}

 

LETTER HOME, JUNE 1961:

Dear Mr & Mrs James A. Hendrix,

Well, I know it’s about time for me to write. We had a lot of things to do down here though. How’s everybody up there? Fine, I really hope. The weather
here is pretty nice except that it’s pretty windy at times because the ocean is only about 2 miles away. I can’t say too much because we have to clean the barrack up a little
before we go to bed. I just wanted to let you know that I’m still alive, although not by very much. All, I mean all, my hair’s cut off and I have to shave. I’ve only
shaved two times so far counting tonight since I’ve been here
.
I won’t be able to see you until about 2 months from now – that’s if I’m lucky. We’re going through Basic training, that’s the
reason. Although I’ve been here for about a week, it seems like about a month. Time passes pretty slow even though we do have a lot to do. How’s the gardening business? I hope
it’s doing fine. I believe it’s more expensive being in the army than living as a civilian. So far we had to get two laundry bags $1 each, a block hat $1.75, two locks 80 cents
each, 3 towels 50 cents each, stamping kit $1.75, haircut $1, shoe polish kit $1.70, shaving razor, blades and lather $1.70, insignias 50 cents. So I guess this isn’t all that good
financially, as I first thought

We don’t get paid until June 30th 1961, so I would like to know if you can send me 5 or 6 dollars. They only gave us $5.00 when we first came and all
that’s gone except $1.50 and that isn’t going to last a minute around here. I can and will pay you back at the end of this month when we get paid if you could send it. After we
get situated things will be way better. It’s just this first mixed-up month that messes us up. So I really must close now. Please, if you have time, write back and tell me
what’s going on up there
.

Give everybody my love – Grandma, Gracie, Willie May, Uncle Frank, Betty, etc., etc
.

From James, with love
.

p.s. Please if you can send a few dollars as soon as you can

– thank you
.

 

 

The training was really tough. It was the worst thing I’ve ever been through. They were always trying to see how much you could take. There was one thing we used to call the “hanging
agony.” You would be left hanging in a harness on a rope with your feet just a few inches from the ground. You’d be like that an hour some days, and if the harness was slightly in the
wrong position it was hell. And they only gave you about three seconds to put the harness on. They tried to make us tough – so we had to sleep in the mud. The whole idea was to see how much
you could take. I took it. I was determined not to crack.

LETTER HOME, OCTOBER 1961:

Dear Dad,

I just received your letter and I’m so glad to hear that you’re doing OK and that Leon and you are together. That took me by surprise and I really am so
happy about that, because I know it does, or should I say it did, get lonesome around there by yourself. That is the way I feel when I start thinking about you and the rest – and
Betty. Tell Leon to do what he’s supposed to because, just as you used to tell me, it pays off later in life. I’m so happy too about you getting a TV, and I know that
you’re fixing the house up “tuff.” Keep up the good work and I’ll try my very best to make this AIRBORNE for the sake of our name. I’m going to try hard and
will put as much effort into this as I can. I’ll fix it so the whole family of Hendrix’s will have the right to wear the Screaming Eagle patch of the US Army Airborne (smile)!
Take it easy and when you see me again I’ll be wearing the patch of proudness. I hope.

To Daddy Hendrix from from your son, love James

p.s. Please send my guitar as soon as you can – I really need it now – it’s still over at Betty’s house
.

FROM ANOTHER LETTER HOME:

There’s nothing but physical training and harassment here for two weeks. Then when you go to jump school, that’s when you get hell! They work you to
DEATH! Fussing and fighting everything you do. You have to do 10, 15 or 25 pushups – pushing Tennessee around all day with my hands – exercising in wet sawdust in temperatures
six degrees below zero. They really make the sparks fly, and then half the people quit. That’s how they separate the men from the boys. I pray that I will make it on the men’s
side.

I had to buy two pairs of jump boots and four sets of tailored fatigues, plus twenty Screamin’ Eagle patches. You know what that represents? The 101st AIRBORNE DIVISION, Fort
Campbell, Kentucky – yes, indeedy!

LETTER HOME, NOVEMBER 1961:

Well, here I am, exactly where I wanted to be, in the 101st Airborne. We jumped out of a 34-foot tower on the third day we were here. It was almost fun. We were the
first nine out of about 150 in our group. When I was walking up the stairs to the top of the tower, I was walking nice and slow, just taking it easy. There were three guys who quit when
they got to the top of the tower. They took one look outside and just quit. You can quit any time. And that got me thinking as I was walking up those steps, but I made up my mind that
whatever happens I’m not quitting on my own.

When I got to the top, the jump master snapped these two straps onto my harness and slapped me on the butt and said right in my ear “Go, Go, GO!” I hesitated for a split
second, and the next thing I knew, I was falling. All of a sudden, when all the slack was taken up on the line, I was snapped like a bullwhip and started bounding down the cable
… While I was sliding down I had my legs together, hands on the reserve, my chin tucked into my chest. I ran smack dab into a sand dune. Later they’ll show us how to go over it
by lifting our feet, of course. But my back was to it. Oh well, it was a new experience.

love James

 

That was about the best thing in the army – the parachute drops. I did about twenty-five. It’s the most thrilling thing I ever did before. It’s just as much fun as it looks, if
you can keep your eyes open.

When you first jump it’s really outasight. Like you’re in the plane, and some cats just NEVER been in a plane before. Some people were throwing up in a big bucket, you know, a big
garbage can sitting in the middle.

It was great!

And then the plane was goin’

RRR
OOO
AAA
R
R
R
R
!!!
Just roarin’ and shakin’ and you can see the rivets just jumpin’ around.

Talk about what am I doing here?

 

You’re just there at the door and all of a sudden,

flop!

rush!

For a split second a thought went through me like,

“You’re crazy!”

 

Physically it was a falling over backwards feeling,

like in your dreams.

 

And it’s almost like blanking,

and it’s almost like crying, and you want to laugh.

 

It’s so personal, because once you get there

everything is so quiet.

 

All you hear is the breeze –
ssssshhhhhhh
– like that.

 

It’s the most alone feeling in the world.

 

You’re there all by yourself,

and you can talk very low or you can scream or do anything.

And then I thought how crazy I was for doing this thing,

 

but I loved it anyway.

 

Then you feel that tug on your collar, and you’re

supposed to look up and see if your chute is open. Every time

you jump you’re scared that maybe this time it won’t open.

 

And so you look up, and there’s that

big, beautiful,

white mushroom above you.

 

That’s when you begin talking to yourself again,

and you just say,

 

“Thank the Lord.”

 

But the army’s really a bad scene. I was stationed in Kentucky. Kentucky’s right on the border of North and South, and in that camp were some of the orneriest, most
boot-licking guys. Some of the officers, man! It was terrible! They wouldn’t let me have anything to do with music. They tell you what you are interested in, and you
don’t have any choice. The army is more for people who like to be told what to do.

I was in for fifteen months, but I got injured on a jump and hung up on the discipline. One day I got my ankle caught in the skyhook just as I was going to jump, and I broke it.
I told them I’d hurt my back too. Every time they examined me I groaned, so they finally believed me.

I was lucky to get out when I did, with Vietnam coming up.

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