Joe Satriani's top 10 Jimi Hendrix songs of all time
"Jimi Hendrix's music means everything to me. In fact, I consider it to be a fundamental part of my DNA. His guitar playing was brilliant, thrilling and revolutionary in just about every way you can imagine. Beyond that, there was his stunning ability to compose, record and produce music that has truly stood the test of time.
"Here are ten Hendrix songs for the curious at heart to check out. If you're already a fan, you'll no doubt know many or all of these fabulous tracks. If you're just getting into the man's work, consider these an introduction of sorts, complete with commentary from yours truly, a dedicated Hendrix disciple."
First up: Villanova Junction
"Working our way backwards from ten to number one, here's a fitting song to finish off an impossible list. Ten of Jimi's best? Impossible - there are too many 'bests'! This is Jimi, drained at the end of his Woodstock performance, giving us one last look into his unique musical vocabulary.
"Here he channels Wes Montgomery as he leads the band through a powerful, improvised arrangement, and he does it as the sun is rising over what was to become a historical three-day concert."
Listen: Jimi Hendrix (live at Woodstock) - Villanova Junction
"This very well could be everyone’s favorite Jimi Hendrix song. It's just that beautiful! The guitar style and performance became legendary the moment he recorded it.
"Jimi was a consummate rhythm player, and this song defines his mastery at creating guitar compositions within vocal songs. His brilliance shines brightly on this one."
Listen: The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Little Wing
Third Stone From The Sun
"This is a masterpiece of modern music. How could something be so spacey, yet be so down home, and with a groovy back beat, too? Only Jimi could pull this off.
"Working with feedback is not child's play; it can lead to nowhere fast if not in the best of hands. Jimi's use of feedback was always incredibly sophisticated. Additionally, there's his unique approach to the Stratocaster, which involves torturing it until it submits to his vision, one concerning space aliens bent on our destruction here on earth."
Listen: The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Third Stone From The Sun
All Along The Watchtower
"The architecture of this recording is magical, and Jimi shines, with melody dripping from everything he plays. He took this Bob Dylan song and made it an epic musical statement.
"Jimi’s guitar and vocals work together to add another dimension to the song's message, one that became his personal protest manifesto, with plenty of heart."
Listen: The Jimi Hendrix Experience - All Along The Watchtower
"This will always be my favorite blues statement by Jimi. It’s short and sweet, with lots of retro effect. It's so warm and slippery sounding.
"Jimi channels his roots and tips his hat to those who have played the blues before him in such an elegant way."
Listen: The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Red House
"Here's Jimi's new group, Band Of Gypsys, recorded live at the Fillmore East in 1969. This is the most amazing live performance by any guitarist I've ever heard. Sometimes it hurts to listen to this recording, because it's too much, too pure, too emotional for me.
"There's something about Jimi's almost meek-sounding voice, together with his raw guitar that draws you in, and breaks your heart."
Listen: Band Of Gypsys - Machine Gun (live), part 1
Listen: Band Of Gypsys - Machine Gun (live), part 2
1983... (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)
"This song is so deep, and the recording is wondrous. On this cut, Jimi created a new landscape for guitarists with a performance that is devastating.
"With its epic arrangement, twists and turns, the song sometimes makes Jimi sound like someone else. I love the instrumental melody that makes up the chorus. The mix was ahead of its time, and it still gives me chills every time I hear it."
Listen: The Jimi Hendrix Experience - 1983... (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)
Are You Experienced?
"If this song touches you, then consider yourself experienced. Think about it: how many songs can you name that feature a forward performance playing over a backward performance, and manage to rock and blow minds at the same time? Unbelievable!
"This recording contains Jimi's legendary backwards guitar solo that set the standard for all backwards solos. Jimi's guitar playing is wonderfully modal, demonstrating what a supreme musician he really was."
Listen: The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Are You Experienced?
May This Be Love
"This is a gem of a song, a diamond, although one that's still a little rough around the edges. It's so perfectly innocent sounding and beautiful. It's as though Jimi figured out how to channel the true message of love into his fingertips and out onto his guitar strings.
"The solo is sweet, tender and altogether breathtaking. Listen closely, though: right before the bridge, you can hear him turn the page with his lyrics on it. That would be edited out in today's recordings."
Listen: The Jimi Hendrix Experience - May This Be Love
Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
"This song has it all, and yet, as a recording, it's deceptively simple: Jimi with one guitar, Noel Redding on bass, Mitch Mitchell on drums, with just a touch of added percussion. Despite the sparse instrumentation, the musical statement is intense, complete and not lacking for one ingredient. Jimi's vocal performance is full of the kind of swagger and grace that was uniquely his.
"There's not a wasted note anywhere. All in all, it's perfectly wild. And the mix is cool!"
Listen: The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
Liked this? Then check out Joe Satriani: How Jimi Hendrix changed my life
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