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*7.19-BOLD AS LOVE (Jimi Hendrix Experience)

Jimi Hendrix Experience

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Anger, he smiles, towering
in shiny metallic purple armor.
Queen Jealousy, envy, waits behind him;
her fiery green gown sneers at the grassy ground.
Blue are the life-giving waters taken for granted,
They quietly understand.
Once happy turquoise armies lay opposite ready,
But wonder why the fight is on.

     But they're all bold as love (3x)
     Just ask the Axis.

My red is so confident that he flashes trophies of war,
and ribbons of euphoria.
Orange is young, full of daring,
but very unsteady for the first go round.
My yellow in this case is not so mellow;
in fact I'm trying to say it's frightened like me.
And all these emotions of mine keep holding me
from giving my life to a rainbow like you.

     [Chorus]

[Codas 1 and 2]


Bold as Love is the grand finale of the album Axis, as obvious an ending as The End or When the Music’s Over by the Doors to their two albums, but not because of the lyrics. The album’s finale depends on the heavily flanged instrumental climax of the song which runs for nearly ninety seconds (or for more than a third of the entire cut). The affect is analogous to the orchestral crescendo in the Beatle’s A Day in the Life. After a first coda begun halfway through the song that is related to the structure of Bold as Love (but introducing the “carousel” ¾ time signature mentioned in relation to One Rainy Wish) the coda changes abruptly into second closing marked by Mitch Mitchell’s flanged drum fill over which “Jimi Hendrix arpeggios and phase-solos …taking his spaceship in stately and regal fashion out of orbit and into the stratosphere.” [Harry Shapiro & Caesar Glebeek, Jimi Hendrix: Electric Gypsy 1995] The spaceship has been making frequent visits into the several cuts of Axis: Bold as Love, and with the Bold as Love coda the spaceship becomes a unifying metaphor. Jimi Hendrix appears to have visited us from another planet to prepare us earthlings to live among extraterrestrial beings.

The verses of Bold as Love seem to take up a challenge Hendrix put to himself in his first album, in the song Love or Confusion, which contains the lyric Must there be all these colors without names without sounds? Here, he makes an allegory of the colors, assigning emotions to them as if feelings were color-coded. The first emotion, Anger, comes on very strong, taking up most of the time allowed to the line. We find Anger is dressed in purple armor. Jealousy of course is green, and understanding blue and turquoise. Red is self-confident, orange is courage, but yellow is cowardice (“in the case, not so mellow” in a nod to Donovan). Thus all the primary and secondary colors are represented. The lyric suggests to me that all these emotions are in conflict and lack the harmony necessary to “give my life to a rainbow like you.” Who is this “you”? From the context of the album, “you” seems to be the feminine muse, who Hendrix would later call “the electric lady”. In this, she is perhaps more related to the woman in the Rolling Stones’ She’s A Rainbow than to God made manifest in the sunset of Donovan’s Wear Your Live Like Heaven.

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