The political and peace movements of the 1960s were not pacifistic in origin. Just as Jesus would not have come to his enlightened concepts without a surrounding atmosphere of hatred and (non-nuclearized) suspicion, Jimi did not come to the peaceful aspirations most remember him for through acceptance of the status quo.
Forget the drugs and groupies scene laid on him. He overcame an entire system and way of thinking that was deeply embedded in people's psyches of the time and opened up new forms of communication. The beauty of it was that it was not simply about Hendrix, but the people he reached through the sounds. He was reaching those who needed to find wisdom the most––not the cool kids, though they were not excluded. The vulnerable, the questers.
He was in-his-way very (pre-Silicon Valley) urban into nature West Coast. I knew people like him growing up in Oakland and they invariably looked beyond black and white, though they may have sat at the back of the class.
The beauty of this story is how labyrinthine and imperfectly captured it is. Hearsay, hazy recollections, vaults of sounds still unreleased, the revealing fragments and cosmic extrapolations.
How do we get there from here? How so we take wisdom and apply it in organic ways, no chemicals ingested? How to convey these ideas in a way that can have a real effect?
Jimi was not pro drugs, far from it. He was complex enough to want to change and intelligent enough to see the full bounds of the prison in which he was trapped. Room full of mirrors.
A lethal combination of fame and self-reflection––on the road to Rainbow Bridge he never quite found his own belly-button window.
The power of Hendrix, or a similar synaesthesistic force, is unequivocally this: he reaches people around the world and not just those who are in good situations. Two months ago on Boracay I walked past Captain Haddock's, an art shop that used to feature a cartoon depiction of the fabled sailor and is a beacon of the arts (and hand-rolled tobacco) on the island.
Two months ago Clint Eastwood-inspired Rody Duterte was elected President of the Philippines by a wide margin and a portrait of Adolph Hitler went up next to the usual Johnny Depp and Bob Marley playing soccer images. These are by by C--- who specializes in quick portraits for 350 pesos, yet is an artist's artist.
Anti-Nazi as I may be I didn't stir waves, I wanted to see what happened to the picture, of its own volition. Sure enough it stayed up for a couple weeks, no one defaced it or seemed to notice, and then––it was replaced by an astounding channeling of Hendrix, long hands on guitar. Wearing his Swinging '60s British military regalia (transformed into a cosmic coat straight out of Fantasia) and with a deeply local tribal sensibility. Speaking peace, even at full volume.
What had happened here? Evolution, without my even willing it. A manifestation of fabric. This at a time when my listening was shifting back toward rare demo/live/jam Hendrix. I was inspired that that vision was still in some sense universal.*
A cosmic sign, then, and this time I led the effort to take the image down (through the teeth that make fabric work: cold, hard cash). For the next couple months, I will hang cosmic Jimi wherever I travel and then it will go into cold, hard monthly storage until I have enough fabric (bread) for my own place.