RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #105: All Along the Watch Tower by Bob Dylan (+) covered by Jimi Hendrix.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010, as well as, the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their lists, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. “RS: Song XXX” means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.

RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #105: All Along the Watch Tower by Bob Dylan and covered famously by Jimi Hendrix.

For those of you who are well-acquainted with the Bible, you will know that there is a lot of symbolic importance to the image of a Watch Tower. In the Book of Ezekiel, there is much talk about preparing for the Second Coming of the Lord. As part of those preparations, a Watch Tower is to be constructed and manned with followers in order to be ready to receive the Lord when that Second Coming happened. If you require further proof that a “Watch Tower’ holds religious significance, note that the Jehovah Witness organization publishes a newsletter/magazine that they have christened as “The Watch Tower”, too.

This brings us to Bob Dylan. Dylan is universally regarded as being one of the most influential and important figures in all of music history. There are many reasons this is so but, foremost among them, is the impact he had on how songs were written. Prior to Bob Dylan appearing on the scene, many hit songs were written in a fairly simplistic manner. For example, think of “Peggy Sue” by Buddy Holly, “Wake up, Little Susie!” by The Everly Brothers and, of course, that old chestnut, “How Much Is That Doggy In The Window?” When Bob Dylan appeared, he did so with a poet’s sensibility. It was because of Bob Dylan’s storytelling that songs were permitted to extend beyond the three minute mark that was the benchmark for songs prior to that. Dylan is also credited with bringing a sense of complexity to his lyrics; creating songs that read like novels, with verses that contained fully-developed characters and scenarios that unfolded at a more leisurely pace. More than anything, Dylan wrote like someone who was a perfect marriage of a poet and a musician; he created songs with beautiful language that, also, contained excellent musical structure.

There are many who claim that when Bob Dylan write “All Along the Watch Tower” for his eighth studio album, “John Wesley Harding”, he was actually using the song as a ploy during contract re-negotiation. That he dressed up his lyrics in Biblical imagery doesn’t change the fact that Dylan, at the time, thought his reputation had grown to the point where he deserved a greater share of the revenue he was bringing in. Read the first two verses and see if you agree:

There must be some kind of way outta here!

Said the Joker to the Thief.

There’s too much confusion.

I can’t get no relief.

Businessmen, they drink my wine.

Plowmen dig my earth.

None will level on the line

Nobody offered his word.”

That Dylan borrowed language from the Bible seems fitting in that there is much in the way of beautiful langauge in the Bible. But, more than that, what Dylan did was create a new standard for songwriting. One bit of evidence for this can be seen in the fact that, not only did he write songs that sold well for him but, he also wrote songs that were so lyrically-poetic and so structurally-sound that they were admired by others who were able to cover them well and turn them into something uniquely their own. The Byrds did that with “Mr. Tambourine Man”, for instance, and so did a young guitar prodigy known as Jimi Hendrix, with “All Along the Watch Tower”.

How Jimi Hendrix came to record “All Along the Watch Tower” remains open to question but, the general consensus is that he was given a cassette of songs that Dylan had been working on that were recorded as demos. One of the songs was “All Along the Watch Tower”. Hendrix was already a huge admirer of Bob Dylan and was excited to listen to new work of his. So, as the story goes, Hendrix took the cassette tape back home, listened to it on repeat and, as midnight gave way to dawn, he began seeing the song through his own eyes. Consequently, Hendrix began to see where he could add in his own signature guitar licks (which were the guitar-version of Dylan’s poetic lyrics). Jimi Hendrix is regarded as highly for his guitar playing as Bob Dylan is for his songwriting. So, in covering “All Along the Watch Tower”, Hendrix is matching Dylan’s genius, note by note and, in the end, he created a cover song that, even Bob Dylan, himself, declared as being the best version of the song.

All in all, “All Along the Watch Tower” is a song that spawned two enormously strong versions of itself as gifts to the world. The genius of a songwriter, matched with the genius of the world’s greatest guitar player, gives us all one of the greatest single songs of all time. So, without further delay, here is “All Along the Watch Tower” by, both, Bob Dylan and by Jimi Hendrix. Enjoy them, both.

The link to the video for the song, “All Along the Watch Tower” by Bob Dylan, can be found here.

The link to the video for the song, “All Along the Watch Tower”, as covered by Jimi Hendrix, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Bob Dylan, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Jimi Hendrix, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Rolling Stone Magazine, can be found here.

RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #81: Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010, as well as, the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their lists, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. “RS: Song XXX” means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.

RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #81: Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix.

There are many who view “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix as being the best guitar-driven song of all-time. I think that there are credible cases to be made for many of his songs as being the best of their sort but, if the critics want to bestow that Champion’s wreath upon his head for this song then, who am I to argue? Without question, Hendrix is the Gold Standard for guitarists. Watching him play never ceases to amaze me. The complete ease with which he interacts with his guitar blows me away. If I were to handle a guitar as he does his, the screeching, caterwauling sound I would produce would be enough to threaten the integrity of every window in my house. But, in his hands, he makes the act of seduction seem effortless. In a world filled with outstanding guitarists such as Eric Clapton, Eddie VanHalen, B.B. King and so on, Jimi Hendrix rises above them all. He is, simply, the best.

The origins of the song, “Purple Haze” are convoluted. For some, they stretch back to a SciFi book called “Night of Light” by Philip Jose Farmer. In that book, there was a story about the Sun producing sunspots that caused a purple haze to form on a planet which, in turn, caused mass disorientation. There are, also, many who believe that “Purple Haze” comes from describing the effects of hallucinogenic drugs. Hendrix, himself, stated that the lyrics to “Purple Haze” come from that feeling you get from falling in love. Most critics and fans agree that the true story rests somewhere in the middle of theories #1 and #2 but, if Jimi believed in the life-altering effects of Love then, I applaud that reason, too.

“Purple Haze” was the second song Hendrix ever released. The first was a cover of an old tune called, “Hey, Joe!”. While Jimi Hendrix received lots of praise for his rendition of “Hey, Joe!”, he felt somewhat upset because it was not an original work and, that it really didn’t showcase who he was. So, he was determined to make his second release, an original work. Like many prodigies, Hendrix played and played and played, for hours upon end. He played guitar as easily as he breathed. It was during one of his improvised sessions, where he was playing around with new sound combinations and new acoustic settings and recording techniques, that the rough skeleton structure of “Purple Haze” began to emerge. Just like a writer staring at a blank page, Hendrix began weaving an aural tapestry out of thin air. His sound engineer happened to overhear him playing and thought that his jam session possessed something special and encouraged Hendrix to lay done some preliminary tracks. After, what I believe was only, four hours of total studio time, “Purple Haze” had been fleshed out into a full song. A funny aside, initially, Hendrix had ten pages of lyrics and the song was many minutes long. But, having good producers and sound engineers is worth their weight in gold because, Hendrix was talked into paring his epic poem done to a more reasonable time of around three minutes. It is because there was so much editing done to the lyrics that many fans believe the lyrics hold such a mysterious air. All that I know is that I am grateful that a line such as:

” ‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky!”

didn’t end up becoming a rejected, crumpled ball tossed into the corner, upon the floor.

So, as we continue to listen to the very best of the very best songs of all-time, I present to you, “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix and The Experience. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song, “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Jimi Hendrix, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Rolling Stone Magazine, can be found here.

The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History: KEXP-Song #475…Foxey Lady by Jimi Hendrix.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.

KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #475: Foxey Lady by Jimi Hendrix.

Over the whole of modern music history, there have been many excellent guitarists. There have been accomplished Bluesmen like B.B. King and Muddy Waters, Heavy Metal shredders like Steve Vai and Tony Iommi, along with rockers like Eddie VanHalen and Carlos Santana. All of these folks are/were masters of their craft and are held in high esteem by fans and by fellow musicians for a reason. But, few would argue with the assertion that the greatest guitar player of all time was Jimi Hendrix.

Jimi Hendrix packed a lot into his 27+ years of life. He was a prodigy on the guitar in the same way that Mozart was a prodigy on the piano. Hendrix did things with a guitar that had never been done before and have rarely been done since. His playing style was primal and theatrical and displayed an easy virtuosity that is amazing to see, even all these years later. He was a powerful, musical force. Hendrix had many hit singles including, “Purple Haze”, “All Along the Watchtower”, “The Wind Cries Mary” and, today’s song, “Foxey Lady”. He was the star attraction at the original Woodstock Music Festival in 1969. He was a first-ballot Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame selection in 1992. His three albums, “Are You Experienced?”, “Electric Ladyland” and “Axis: Bold As Love” have all been deemed by Rolling Stone Magazine as being among the Top 100 Albums of all time. The same magazine ranked Hendrix as the Greatest Guitarist of all time and the sixth Greatest Performer ever, too.

Jimi Hendrix began his career playing with Little Richard, The Isley Brothers and others but, his virtuosity made it difficult for him to maintain a backing role on any stage. He was a star from the moment he began to play. I confess that I do not possess the musical knowledge to accurately describe his playing style in precise technical terms. Instead, I, like you, am left to watch his performances and marvel at the ferocity of his playing. In this video for “Foxey Lady”, his guitar style seems almost sexual which is, I presume, in keeping with the seductive nature of the lyrics to this song. Whatever the case, he is obviously a man who is supremely confident in his gift.

Jimi Hendrix died when he was just 27 years old. He asphyxiated after an overdose of barbiturates. Along with Jim Morrison of The Doors, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, Amy Winehouse and Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones (who all died at age 27, as well), Jimi Hendrix died way too soon and left us all to lament what more he might have been able to give us, musically. But, what he did give us musically while he was alive was phenomenal! Jimi Hendrix was unlike anyone who has ever played the guitar. If you have never watched him play then, you are in for a treat. If you have seen him play then, get ready to relive the magic that he brought with him to the stage. Regardless of what you bring to this post/video, you are about to watch the greatest guitar player of all time doing what he did best. That is treat enough for this day.

The link for the music video to Foxey Lady by Jimi Hendrix can be found here.

The official Jimi Hendrix website can be accessed by clicking on the link here.

Thanks, as always, to KEXP, for honouring the music of the past, with as much fervour, as they do the music of the present and the future, too. a link to their website can be found here.