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*7.16-LITTLE WING (Jimi Hendrix Experience)

Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix

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[Intro]

Well, she's walking through the clouds
With a circus mind that’s running wild:
Butterflies and zebras, moonbeams and fairy tales.
That's all she ever thinks about--
Riding with the wind.

When I'm sad, she comes to me
With a thousand smiles she gives to me free.
It's alright, she said it's alright
Take anything you want from me--

Anything.

Fly on, little wing…

[Coda]


Little Wing is a lovely song that begins with an electric guitar that Hendrix picks while simultaneously playing multiple complementary notes, often parts of chords, and then changing a note within the chord to create a melodic effect. The melody is accompanied by a glockenspiel and the sound of the guitar is put through Leslie speaker (a revolving speaker which creates a hovering affect). [The Beatles had used a Leslie in Tomorrow Never Knows, but it had been Lennon’s vocals that had been processed in this manner rather than a musical instrument.] With the use of flanging as well, there’s just a touch of streaking in the sound that is analogous to the streaks of light one would see when tripping on LSD. [A similar use of the Leslie speaker, again in recording the vocal, had been used to suggest tripping in Joe McDonald’s song Grace.] As the song continues, the guitar chords get more solid and a bit louder. The fingerpicking diminishes and the whirring effect of the Leslie increases while the glockenspiel continues to hammer out a clear melody. The song indeed feels like it’s lifting up and flying away.

There’s a rare delicacy to the whole song that shares a bit of the tone of the Rolling Stones’ Lady Jane or Simon & Garfunkel’s Scarborough Fair back in 1966. Hendrix told an interviewer in 1968 [Jimi Hendrix / Tony Brown: Jimi Hendrix Talking (1994)] that through this song he had personified his feelings about being at the Monterey Pop Festival into tender feelings for a girl. If this is true, Hendrix thought of his audience at the time as free to follow the latest fantasy, generous of spirit, and submissive to his will. It’s a song of gratitude to his fans packed into “a very, very small little matchbox”, as Hendrix himself put it. If the song had been confined to the verses, it would have been brief indeed. The song’s length is doubled with the instrumental introduction and coda.

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