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What Are Your Top Five, All Time, Favorite Jimi Hendrix Songs?

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When faced with such a dilemma as to having to define your favorite song by one of the most amazing musicians in history I figured it best to justify the top choice with a few alternate picks that also mean a lot to me. As such, when a good friend told me yesterday that her favorite Jimi Hendrixsong was hands down, “Manic Depression,” I felt compelled to dispute that claim. And though “Manic Depression” is absolutely one of my favorite songs, this inquiry proved that it is indeed not my favorite. These, my friends, are my top five all time Jimi Hendrix songs.

“Like a Rolling Stone (Bob Dylan cover)”

I once had a record that had bits of Otis Redding’s performance on one side and Jimi Hendrix’s on the other – taken from the Monterey Pop Festival. This has to be one of the most enlightening performances I had ever heard, and I was really young and it just blew my mind. I mean young – like junior high, and I didn’t know what I had with the album – or so many others that I no longer have today and it just crushes me that I don’t have this piece of history (even though it was a cheap reissue)…I found the performance online here and it is every bit as beautiful and creative now as it was for me then…plus that introduced me to Otis Redding…not a bad deal…and it made me look up some cat name Bobby Zimmerman too.

“Ezy Rider”

The track is so crushing and gives me a complete idea what a later stage Hendrix would have sounded like had he been around to live through the success of so many ‘classic rock’ bands. People mourn Elvis‘ death, partially because they are curious as to what could have been. I mourn Jimi’s because of that reason too and Jimi could have been far more than “Ezy Rider.”

“Castles Made of Sand”

It’s so entirely funky yet soft, and I think it’s the closest Jimi came to rapping – though at the time I imagine it would have been referred to as toasting. But his lyrics are such a subtle way of saying that ‘my friends, let’s do the best we can while we can because some day babies, some day we’re not going to be around to enjoy what we’ve got here.’

“Manic Depression”

Its beat is furious for its time and would make anyone who once thought Jimi’s blues influence to be crucial look the other way and scoff. Then, at about a minute and a half his acid kicks in and for the next few seconds he becomes the sole member of The Experience. The rhythm section is absolutely amazing though, I really hope I didn’t downplay that with the last statement – like I said – furious.

“Are You Experienced?”

This is the Hendrix song that defines the man for me. The lyrics are so brutally insightful as to what he was going through with all his drugs and blossoming talent. He talks of a smaller world that you must elevate yourself from and in the process you must go through to redefine what it is you truly are. I can understand that though I still find my mind clinging to the things that don’t matter, as depression entirely makes its presence known from time to time. Musically, it is one of the most inventive songs of all time, the backwards reverb looping – entirely underscoring Jimi’s perfect & simple riff which he seems to be playing without even touching the instrument. “Not necessarily stoned, but…beautiful” – this is my favorite Hendrix song.

And if you wanted to change your life, stop listening to goth (there’s nothing wrong with listening to goth, sorry) learn to love and for the love of god (not that god) and go outside and breathe some freshness into your soul. Get some fresh air, a fresh perspective and remember what kinda jams you should be listening to. I never gave props to The Grateful Dead, but I should have – you should too. There’s a great podcast over at Fader right now, dig it. – Chris