Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Star Spangled Banner by Jimi Hendrix

It's my birthday again.  On this day, I've enjoyed going onto the blogosphere to talk about some woefully misunderstood things.  In the past, they've all been cartoon characters, namely Daffy Duck, Pepe Le Pew, and Tweety.  This year, I'd like to try something in a different vein.  So, as a birthday present to myself, I will talk about a woefully misunderstood non-cartoon related thing, Jimi Hendrix's version of the Star Spangled Banner.  Of course, before you read even one thing I have to say about it, listen to it in the embedded video below:

Most people don't quite understand what Jimi was trying to say with this song.  They're not at all sure if this is for or against America.  I have known some people who think it is just a blind jingoistic tribute to  "Yankee Doodle Land" and it makes them sick.  (Always sticking feathers in their hats and calling them macaroni.  Sheesh!)  And there's others who feel that Jimi took a cheap stab at America by simply converting the Star Spangled Banner into the raukus "noise" of his guitar.  This attitude was portrayed brilliantly in Pixar's first Cars movie, by the way.  (Yes, the clip below is in Spanish)

However, most people simply just don't understand the song and dismiss it as Jimi just making noise for random reasons.  I remember one stand up comedian talking about it.  His comment on the part where Jimi breaks into Taps was "do you get the feeling he forgot what song he was playing part way through?"  Well, if I could find that comedian, I would tell him that Jimi was very much aware of every single sound he was playing during the entire song.  It all added up to one, not cheap knee jerk, but rather a very brilliantly, scathing satirical assault on America.  "How?" you ask.  Well, I think I've got it figured out.  If you want to know as well, read on.  (Although, if any of you reading this had it figured out already, that is awesome for you.  You're invited to read on and possibly add a few points I may have missed.)

The clue for the song's message is in the "noise" Jimi interjects at different parts of the song.  Go back to that youtube clip and listen to it again.  Those aren't just random sounds.  They are the sounds of war, specifically the Viet Nam War.  They are sounds of:

Bombs dropping!

Tanks muscling their way around!

People screaming in terror!
And the basic anguish most of the people felt for being in that impossible situation.

Notice he starts playing all of that right after the part where the song usually says "and the rocket's red glare".  This of course is how he shows that war has always been a part of America's anthem.  (By the way, for those who aren't aware, the rocket's red glare in the original anthem is a refernce to another war that America lost, namely the War of 1812.  Here's a fun song about that:

Tee hee)

So, the playing of Taps is to commemorate all of the people who were needlessly killed in that muddled conflict.

Sadly, very very sadly, Jimi's message in that song is just as relevant for America today as it was in his time.  The evidence for that is painfully clear.

I guess it'll take more than song and a few thousand deaths before America will finally learns its lesson. Oh well, maybe after America invades Iran or Syria and some other musician writes a song against that will America finally squint their eyes passed that "rocket's red glare" and see the light.

Come on, Ms. Gaga.  You can do it.

I'll end this post with a similar misunderstood song about the whole Viet Nam situation.  Most people stupidly assumed it was a partiotic song about the good ol' U.S.A. when it's actually putting down the way the U.S. government treated the veterans of the Viet Nam War.  President Reagen even used that song for his re-inaugeration when he was re-elected president in 1985 (and some people look back with fondness at him???????)  Anyway, enjoy the song:

And always:

(aaaaaaaaaaand.............. Happy birthday to me!)

1 comment:

Gregory Scandalis said...

Here is a version with 3 feedback distortion guitars. Sounds like Jimi x 3 :