Moving right along from Elvis to Hendrix —
how much more remarkable his appearance in his time? OK, like the times were just right, the blues context was established, the UK was so firmly in love with the US whilst the US was segregated up its own ass, and continues to be so today. One could argue all night about a scene whether it's storyville or swingin london or a bunch of nerdy terrorists ganging up in the cinematheque — but Hendrix is such a rich anomaly of talent and 'show them how to do it' and intense drive and creativity. As, erm, elsewhere, I think Hendrix was the first to really extend genial talent with electric amplification and the sheer loud excitement of cutting the sound-flight envelope. I remember once seeing a compilation of you know, 'classically' psychedelic music from the 60s, the really trippy stuff with poss. some Floyd on it, and they tacked on Voodoo Chile at the end of it — as though besides cheap rights they wanted to tap into the signal importance of this guy with just one track. I mean imagine sitting out tripping in the grass with your friends, there's violence and love in the air to such a liquid extent your eyes feel like popping out (and let me post-preface that by saying how hard it is to talk about love and hippie shit in this day and age and not sound like a complete moron; let's say those times weren't ripe for irony-as-lifestyle yet. I'd suggest H.S. Thompson's take on the scene (cf Fear n Loathing, on acid and San Fran) to be a fair and honest indicator, irrespective of whether Wolf lumped him in with the other New Journalism lumpkins — which is another essay altogether, very muchly because of its failure to understand Gonzo as preemptor of the whole journalism-fiction thing, ie conscious involvement with the creation of one's story, and a generation of PoMoronics ever after — though note, New Journos just celebrate themselves, like almost any young writer in the 90s — Gonzo just takes this to the rational, original extreme); you could be drafted any minute (and what does that feel like, I mean to the conspiracy nut generation? Drafting frightens the shit out of me and I think it a failure of society, to be at John Howard's beck and call, for example, when there's already so much transparently wrong with him and this world, when everybody knows without winking irony that he serves as Dubya's bushy-eyed lap- and attack dog, as well as economic underdog when trade tariffs are decided); you know, it's a simple question of humanity, you got these really great drugs going round yer system, and some leather-faced president decides to shoot students and send them off to a body-bag conflict for an ideological threat as selfish as it is overstated, and you just say No Fucking Way (as though by instinct you're anticipating the fat grooviness of rock music like Sabbath about 3-4 years from now, and the long hair and the bong-ons and the sheer underclassness of it all — you just know it's going to be yours), you're sitting there in the grass and someone pops on a bootleg of Voodoo Chile and it feels like knives are cutting up everything you see into thin slices, and the world is screaming in pain — though you know underneath that it's good, that the world has to be destroyed so it can be created again anew, and this guy is singing about imminent death with the most brazen attitude as though he's saying goodbye to a neighbour in the morning, and it feels like he's playing with a power beyond anything you've heard before, louder than any of the fuzzboxes your friends brought home and cranked thru their puny Vox amps until their parents screamed to cut the racket, it's like an aural apocalypse of sorts, like souls in turmoil and death triumphant; you're feeling all this, right, you know that the world's still the same place and that your friends are likely to be feeling the same way about these crazy sounds even though it's just a tape ... I mean, it's almost sheer impossible to recreate the hard core impression of the arrival of Hendrix in the full context of the mid-sixties, especially for us pristine CD sound-obsessed consumers with our teen demographics and serious irony and sincerity. As a generation we look positively inhuman next to Jimi. But the UFOs, what about the flying saucers? Your man Jimi was way big into conspiracy theory man! Well, you can stick that up your X-Filed pipe and smoke it too. The only way to describe the genius and absolute talent of Jimi is to say he was an alien in the first place. Which is a statement about ourselves more than anything.