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Little Wing through the years.

June 11, 2010

Jimi Hendrix.

Every aspiring rock star kid has to spend some time immersed in his music. Love or hate him, no one can deny that he changed music. Hendrix could do brutal rock and flowing melodies like no one else. And even to this day, you can hear just a few notes of any of Hendrix’s recordings and instantly know it’s Hendrix. Even if you have never heard the song before. There was something so very raw about the way he played. Not low-fi, not bare bones, but raw. he just knew how to reach right down into you and make you feel something.

I really should play Hendrix more often…

Now I want to go into something that both inspires and annoys the fuck outta me. Covers of Hendrix. like I said, Jimi Hendrix had a certain magic around his playing, his style. He was Hendrix. And most people are so enamored by his music that they try to emulate him. And most times, they fuck it all up. Oh gods do they ever fuck it up. They may be technically proficient, they may know every note by heart, but they just can’t cross that chasm between knowledge, and emotion. They play Hendrix like a surgery. Fucking sterile.

So last night I was on a youtube tangent ( like usual) and saw Little Wing. Possibly one of Hendrix’s most beautiful compositions. And saw just how many versions are out there. Some were more successful than others.

So let’s start with the one and only, Jimi Hendrix…

That is the bar. That is right!

But it wasn’t the only version I felt was right. Stevie Ray Vaughan, was a master in his craft. And he was also taken away from us too soon. But when SRV did it, he made it his. He knew how to keep it Hendrix, but still make it his. So let’s give that version a listen…

Again, that is music!

The Corrs too?

Yep, the Corrs have a version. OK it’s confession time. I honestly think this version stinks. Not because it is musically bad, or done wrong. The thing I really don’t like about it is that it’s too … pretty. That’s right, I called it pretty. It is like a fucking ballroom painted in pink, it is a goddamned ruffled dress or something. I can’t take it. I actually first saw this version last night and I couldn’t finish it. At. All.

I have listened to the Corrs before and they turned me off for that very same reason. It felt like musical interior decorating. It was right notes-wise, but they were wrong. The spark wasn’t there. I just didn’t feel it.

But here it is, just to say that I am giving my favorites and non-favorites a chance.

Steve Vai has also attempted Little Wing too. Steve Vai is technically fantastic. But for some reason, he falls into the surgical category all too often himself. Notes? Spot on. Vocals? Spot on. Emotion? Not there…

If you are into the tapping guitar style I have a “treat” for you. Carlos Vamos.

It is a version that that both fascinates and bothers me.

Listen to the way it is executed, and it is Little Wing, but it’s not. I like that part. But the reverb is horrific. And then there is the spots where he tries to make it rhythmic. With a flourish of his thumb it all falls apart. I know what he is trying to accomplish, and in many compositions it works. Just not Little Wing.

Nigel Kennedy does a very interesting version of his own. It is classical it is rock, but it isn’t. I am not sure if I would ever listen to it more than a handful of times since there are parts that depend on a guitarist and I those passages with the guitar I just don’t feel it. But when the violin comes to the front, I really enjoy it.

Hrmm… So this is a tough one. You paid your monies, you takes your chances. Give it a spin. Or not.

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