Friday, March 16, 2007

possibly controversial thoughts about Jimi Hendrix

This idea has been boiling in my gut since I was in college. Figured I go ahead and get it out there.

Johann Sebastian Bach was the last great Baroque composer. That is because he literally exhausted the genre. After Bach, there was nothing of interest that anyone could do in the "Baroque" style, so composers (including his own sons) had to develop different genres of music in order to not be redundant. Bach "completed" Baroque music.

Ludwig Van Beethoven completed "Classical" music. I use the term Classical here not as most non-music people understand it to mean all "art" music, but rather in the sense that is used in musical circles where it means roughly 1750-1820. After Beethoven's 9th there was pretty much nothing left to do with Classical music. Romanticism had to step up to the plate.

Jimi Hendrix completed both psychedelic music and the Blues.

In a world in which "Red House" and "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)" exist, there is nothing for any later blues guitarist to do but retread paths that have already been trodden by better men than they. Or move beyond the genre and not be a "blues guitarist" anymore.

"Are You Experienced", "Third Stone From the Sun", and the "Star Spangled Banner" as performed at Woodstock, are the end-all-be-all of acid rock. It just doesn't get any more far-out than that. There can never truly be a modern song with the impact of, say, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" or "Incense and Peppermints", because Jimi finished all that. Music had to move on. And it (mostly) did.