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Hendrix New Movie Must See ‘Hear My Train Acomin’ ‘ – November 2013

Jimi Hendrix was the greatest electric guitarist EVER! You can see this in this new movie by Bob Smeaton, a Jimi Hendrix aficionado, who has apparently collected loads of footage of and about Jimi. Every moment of Jimi’s guitar playing is magic in ‘Hear My Train Acomin’,’ [which actually is a blues song about death, acomin’…] and beyond anything anyone else ever did, from the bearded boys of ZZ Top to George Harrison to Jimmy Page to Eric Clapton to Jeff Beck to Buddy Guy to Larry Coryell and Duane Allman, on and on and onward. The film shows/shares so many tastes of Jimi’s searing, driving, piercing, beautiful, intricate, bluesy, psychedelic playing. Yet, it is painful to have so many tastes and not hear the whole song, through way too much of the film. Especially in the beginning of the movie.

Apparently the footage of the daytime Miami concert was ‘new’ for Smeaton, and he featured that via showing the entire version of ‘Foxey Lady’ that the Experience played that day – in the middle of the movie. It was unbelievable. The sound, the energy, the sexuality of Jimi. Though from the interviews, especially with his three ‘birds,’ whom he loved, probably amongst many others, he was presented to be shy in public. He always had his guitar with him and was forever practicing and playing and staying up late, and jamming and sitting in with various musicians. When he was on stage, doing his thing, he was flamboyant, raucous (in his playing), utterly fantastic, and very very overtly sexual. So much so that after he made his breakthrough via England and his meeting and associating with the Beatles, the Stones, the lads from the Yardbirds (which included Clapton and Beck and Page), he couldn’t get onto the Ed Sullivan American TV show, like they had all done, because from the movie you could see he was too “far” for Uncle Ed and his more mainstream television audience. He had humped and thrusted against his speaker and guitar when he played at the Monterey festival, where he blew away everyone with what he could do and who and what he was, and Mr. Sullivan could not handle that on his 8 PM Sunday night family TV show.

It was great seeing and hearing all these edgy and lovely sounds that Jimi could create on his instrument in a movie. There are outtakes available via the PBS site I have provided for you, of some of Jimi’s concerts, including the Miami concert.

He died so young, amidst the trio of musicians who fired up the sixties with their talent and passion: Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin were the other two, Janis dying within six days of Jimi. A tragic week that was in September of 1970.

He actually only released four albums during his lifetime, and though Charles Chandler, his manager, and former bass player of the Animals (‘House Of The Rising Son,’ ‘We Gotta Get Out Of This Place’) kept pushing him to make that ‘hit,’ Jimi was in another zone. Yet at one point he did have 3 top twenty tunes at the top of the pops, and according to the movie, his amazing double album ‘Electric Ladyland’ was a number one album in England. Interesting facts about that album: in England, for some misguided reason, not pleasing Jimi, the UK cover displayed Jimi and tens of naked adoring women in a bend-around photo. When the album was released in the USA it had a different cover, the one of Jimi’s head in a backlit red shadow. Stevie Winwood played keyboards on it, from Traffic and the Spencer Davis Band; as did Chris Wood of Traffic on the flute. The long drawn out two sides of ethereal mermaid or merman (as Jimi called hisself somewhere in the mix) music was way before its time in terms of someone of Jimi’s stature creating these sounds of water and ether and crosstown traffic, tingling and trickling thru time….I remember my ladyfriend back then, whom I turned on to Jimi with this album, reacting to the slower stuff saying it was “boring,” which it definitely was not to surfer me. Some of that footage of the band playing that music is shown in the movie. Also on that terrific all-time album are Dylan’s ‘All Along The Watchtower,’ the version of which is probably the highlight of the album in terms of energy and fineness of song. ‘Rainy Day, Dream Away’ is also on ‘Ladyland,’ the background of Jimi’s composing of the song, revealed in the movie, as Jimi’s concert performance that day was postponed by rainy weather.

I did get to see Jimi, back in around 1969 in NYC, when my friend, and former NY State Surfing Champion, John Schneller got ahold of a few tickets. I remember Jimi being astounding, but the specifics of what he played that night and what it sounded like exactly, have escaped from my memory vault. But I am so grateful that this movie rekindled my appreciation for what Jimi did on guitar, and all the concerts I missed, as Jimi ascended to the top of the music world during his four short years from Monterey and London to his death in the latter city on September 18, 1970.

The background of his life is interestingly portrayed with interviews with his family and early photos. Including him playing guitar in his paratrooper’s uniform, his baby photos, his father’s words, and those of other appreciative family members. He learned from all the great blues musicians on his way up to the peak of the stratosphere that he reached and finally came crashing down from, after supposedly taking his ladyfriend’s sleeping pills and being found unconscious next to her in bed in the morning of September 18.

Jimi’s humble prophetic conversation is wonderful to hear, and his cosmic vision is there to be reaped from the film, if you can patiently listen and re-listen to his soft spoken words to understand and perceive what he is saying.

Don’t miss this movie. There may be a better one coming in the future, as Jimi is probably the most important and finest musician to have existed in the 20th century. But for now, just hearing his guitar, and being in the audience for what this movie presents, is still dancing through my head, to better round out my own appreciation for Jimi and the genius that he was and will always be.

Check the web address

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/jimi-hendrix/film-jimi-hendrix-hear-my-train-a-comin/2660/

Next post I intend to write I want to be about the now-late and great Lou Reed, of Velvet Underground fame, ‘Walk On The Wild Side,’ ‘Men Of Good Fortune,’ ‘High In The City,’ ‘Heroin,’ who just died at 71 after unsuccessful (ultimately) liver transplant surgery.

(C) 2013  Conrad Miller M.D.  November 6, 2013

 

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