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*7.15-IF 6 WAS 9 (Jimi Hendrix Experience)

Jimi Hendrix Experience

LISTEN

Yeah, sing the song, bruh…

If the sun refuse to shine
I don't mind, I don't mind.
If the mountains fell in the sea
Let it be, it ain't me.

     I got my own world to live through
     And I ain't gonna copy you.

Now if 6 turned out to be 9
I don't mind, I don't mind.
If all the hippies cut off all their hair
I don't care, I don't care. Dig!

     [Chorus]

          White collar conservative flashing down the street,
          Pointing their plastic finger at me.
          They're hoping soon my kind will drop and die,
          But I'm gonna wave my freak flag high, high!

          [Break]

          Wave on, wave on

          [Break]

          Fall mountains, just don't fall on me.
          Go ahead on Mr. Business man, you can't dress like me.

          [Break]

          Don’t nobody know what I’m talking about.
          I’ve got my own life to live.
          I’m the one that’s gonna have to die
          When it’s time for me to die
          So let me live my life the way I want to.
          There…

          Sing on Brother, play on drummer.

[Coda]


Axis: Bold as LoveAxis: Bold as Love picked up where Are You Experienced left off, while using technologies that had become available since the last Jimi Hendrix Experience release, such as flanging and the wah-wah. (The wah-wah pedal was featured in songs not included in this review.) It just so happened that George Chkiantz, engineer responsible for the flanging that first appeared in the Small Faces’ Itchycoo Park, brought his expertise to the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The album also made extensive use of moving sounds from one speaker to another so that sometimes one seems to be spinning in space. [The only other moving across the speakers that comes to mind before this album was in the Beatles’ song Good Morning Good Morning when the listener seemed to move through a series of animal sounds in the coda.] The album’s chief engineer, Eddie Kramer, indeed had worked on Sgt. Pepper, and challenged by Jimi Hendrix’ aural imagination, this album frequently shows mastery of electronic techniques beyond their playful use as novelties. The Jimi Hendrix Experience is the only other group outside the Beatles to make extensive use of backwards recorded guitars. The album has been compared with the Door’s Strange Days, another album that improved upon engineering techniques developed after Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band that were not available upon the production of the group’s initial release. Both groups repeat a similar song format to their first albums in their second, and show greater complexity of composition.

If 6 Was 9 serves somewhat the same function as Third Stone from the Sun on the first Experience album. It’s loosely woven and fairly lengthy at over five minutes, wandering away from its initial blues musical structure to a long freeform talking blues broken up by sonic effects. Much of the song’s instrumental tone is drawn from a rhythmic interplay between the drums and an electric guitar playing chords. To the coda, which lasts over a minute, is added a screeching soprano recorder doing a wild jazz improvisations that sound like worn out brakes as a train pulls into the station. I suggest editing out this portion of the song.

The message of If 6 Was 9 is somewhat like It’s My Life by the Animals, released in October 1965, but Eric Burdon addressed his girlfriend with his song; Jimi Hendrix addresses the public in general. If 6 Was 9 also has more gesture toward being Black than in Hendrix’ previous work (and more than any other song on Axis: Bold as Love)—there’s a hint of Black pride in it. There’s an attempt to distance himself from the hippie aesthetic, while still participating with them in an acknowledgement of the freakishness of his individuality, famously claiming to “wave [his] freak flag high!” The song desires respect for individuality, not a sense of belonging. He wants to be left alone not because of racism, but simply because like all other human beings he has to die alone “so let me live my life the way I want to.” If everything were different, if the first were last and the last were first, if Black were White," Hendrix seems to be saying, "I would still need to do me."

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