Jimi on Youtube

April 29 2023

random trip report

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When I was assembling my list of important rock songs a couple years ago, there wasn't much Jimi Hendrix on YouTube. I guess there were copyright complaints from whoever owns his catalog.

That seems to have changed, and now there's an official 'Jimi Hendrix' channel. A lot of record companies are doing that these days - putting their catalog on YouTube, which I guess pays them something.

Anyway, I spent some time looking at different versions of 'Stepping Stone', my favorite Hendrix song of the high-energy variety. There's a studio recording of it, with bunch of variants:

From War Heroes:

From 'Voodoo Child: the Jimi Hendrix Collection'. This has a lot in common with the above. But the beginning is different in many details, and the solo leading up to the key change (roughly 2:00 to 2:20) is completely different. Can you hear other differences?

From Voodoo Soup. The beginning is from A, the solo is from B. The sound quality is lower, and it's in mono.

This supports the idea that Hendrix was a perfectionist, never completely happy with a recording, and that he fiddled with releases of existing songs.

There's another studio version, also with Buddy Miles, which is different, and inferior:

And a couple of live versions: with Band of Gypsys, which has some problems with the mike. Also the drumming is really bad.

Live at the Fillmore East. Pretty good, though not as good as the studio version. In the studio Jimi could layer several guitar parts, and also play around with stereo.

These show a couple of things: first, like all great musicians, Jimi never plays a song the same way twice. Second, he didn't like his own voice, and in live performances he often sings softly and mumbles.

By the way, I'm not exactly sure what the lyrics are. They change from one version to the next. A couple of web sites have lyrics, but they're wildly wrong.

Carl Christensen adds:

I think the second version is the best. I love the more pronounced wah-wah guitar 'vocalizing'. This was the studio recording of the live Band of Gypsys version. I think he liked this band better and bonded with them ie Billy Cox was an old Army buddy and formed their Nashville band the King Kasuals who later recorded this Jimi song without him.

As you know he could do more in the studio. Live recordings tended to be sloppy and bad audio due to the technology of the time. Plus the design of the Fender Stratocaster guitar meant he'd be out of tune immediately after using his whammy bar. It wasn't until the 80's this problem was solved (locking tuners, lubricated nut, Floyd Rose's design etc).

Also by the way, check out this extended live version of Voodoo Chile, with an organ:

Well, I'm a voodoo chile
Lord I'm a voodoo chile
Well, the night I was born
Lord I swear the moon turned a fire red
The night I was born
I swear the moon turned a fire red
Well my poor mother cried out "lord, the gypsy was right!"
And I seen her fell down right dead
(Have mercy)
Well, mountain lions found me there waitin'
And set me on a eagles back
Well, mountain lions found me there,
And set me on a eagles wing
(It's the eagles wing, baby, what did I say)
He took me past to the outskirts of infinity,
And when he brought me back,
He gave me a venus witch's ring
And he said "fly on, fly on"
Because I'm a voodoo chile, baby, voodoo chile

Well, I make love to you,
And lord knows you'll feel no pain
Say, I'll make love to you in your sleep,
And lord knows you felt no pain
(Have mercy)
'Cause I'm a million miles away
And at the same time I'm right here in your picture frame
(Yeah! what did I say now)
'Cause I'm a voodoo chile
Lord knows I'm a voodoo chile

Well my arrows are made of desire
From far away as jupiters sulphur mines
Say my arrows are made of desire, desire
From far away as jupiters sulphur mines
(Way down by the methane sea, yeah)
I have a humming bird and it hums so loud,
You think you were losing your mind, hmmm...
Well I float in liquid gardens
And Arizona new red sand
I float in liquid gardens
Way down in arizona red sand
Well, I taste the honey from a flower named blue,
Way down in California
And the New York drowns as we hold hands
'Cause I'm a voodoo chile
Lord knows I'm a voodoo chile

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