Jimi Hendrix – What’s a solo

Posted on March 5, 2011

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Foggy November nights are anything but strange to me. Still, this one in particular was starting to feel increasingly odd. I’d been strolling awhile in a loosed haze, wandering unfamiliar city streets, with just a piece of paper that read “Red House Hotel, 11:00 pm, room 309, No pictures!”

My frivolous cruise eventually led to my destination: a constricted alley where a dim lighted sign stood out of the mist, and informed me I was in the right place. It was a rather unassuming hotel, set in a 3 stories high outdated building. A dark stillness in the silence surrounded the air. I nervously finished a cigar, and tried to find my vague notes. Passing the revolving doors, the lobby was anything like the exterior, marble floors, strange columns and an uncommon high celling peaked by a baroque chandelier that brighten the room with white. There was no one insight, bar a peculiar man at the reception, who nodded as if he had been expecting me. He pointed to a wooden elevator which seemed as much out of place as anything else in the hotel.

As I walked towards it, every step was enhanced by a growing echo, and the feeling of the gatekeeper’s gaze on my neck. The elevator was handled by a younger employee, who didn’t wait for me to speak and operated a lever that pointed to “3” the top floor. The narrow elevator walls were uneasy, I turned back to look into the golden framed mirror, where my expression was strangely hazy, my features as restless as my soul. This was made worst by a careless three days beard, and a curly head impatiently turning white. The boy was without expression while we journeyed up at an eccentric pace that suddenly came to an halt. I was preparing to leave when, the until then dead silent boy, vigorously coughed. I took the hint, gave him a coin and he said “room 309, straight ahead”.

The long dark corridor was confined by identical doors, and at the end, facing the elevator, a fantastical decorated entrance crowned by the number 309 shining in gold. I made my way along the corridor and was about to knock, when the door slid open like an eye lid. It took me a while to perceive the whole scene. The door opened into a large circular room with no windows. Smoke and music chocked the air. A room filled with people who barely made an effort to acknowledge my presence.

Rather surprisingly, taking into account is flamboyant reputation, I find Mr. Hendrix in the quietest corner, smoking, enjoying a cup of wine, slightly bended forward while strumming an acoustic guitar. He greeted me with a welcoming smile and signalled to sit next to him. We joked and talked for a while about the world outside, until finally I asked the question that brought me there, “So Jimi tell me, what’s a solo?”

He smiled, landed his guitar and leaned back, his eyes moving away from me into the horizon, lighting a cigarette he said:

“You have to be inside the song, but also outside the song you know? It’s not just a gimmick, I mean, it’s fun and all but it’s like, completely personal and at the same time completely in tune with the song, the band, and crowds, and the Universe (smiles). Vibrations, (whispering) channel your own way of communication…it’s bizarre, ’cause it’s part of us (even quieter)…search for a deep sound…depth…different things. It’s a little thing through it, going through mystical scenes, with strong presence…deep and deep into something…”

Unfortunately this is the best transcription I could produce from memory, notes, and the whispering voice in my recorder. From that point on it’s all fragmented and clouded. As I hear the conversation’s recording, I can barely remember uttering those words, as if all had happened long ago to someone else. To make matters worst, the recording is in terrible condition and Jimi spoke with the softest tone throughout the night.

I keep going back to those words and his songs. Every so often I can almost grasp it, for a fugitive moment that lasts but a mere split second. Alas, perhaps it’s simply too immense to hold inside oneself.

by Jack Rabbit

I keep going back to those words and his songs. Every so often I can almost grasp it, for a fugitive moment that lasts but a mere split second. Alas, perhaps it’s simply too immense to hold inside oneself.

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Posted in: Sound Matters