TUESDAY TUNES | JIMI HENDRIX | ‘CASTLES MADE OF SAND’
Posted on July 2, 2014 by Trace
— J u k e b o x —
CASTLES MADE OF SAND
Jimi Hendrix was arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music. Hendrix helped usher in the age of psychedelia with his 1967 debut, ‘Are You Experienced?’ and the impact of his brief but meteoric career on popular music continues to be felt.
He expanded the range and vocabulary of the electric guitar into areas no musician had ever ventured before. His boundless drive, technical ability and creative application of such effects as wah-wah and distortion forever transformed the sound of rock and roll.
“Castles Made of Sand” has been summarised by the Hendrix biography ‘Jimi Hendrix: Electric Gypsy’, writers to mean: “a sharply observed reflection on life’s bitter ironies”.
With the significance of sand within the track as a metaphor: “for the temporary nature of existence, of time slipping away, how nothing can be taken for granted – love, loyalty, family bonds and friendship”.
It is claimed that ‘Castles Made of Sand’ is one of Hendrix’s more obviously biographical songs, said to be written about his uncertain and transitional childhood involving “different homes, different schools, different carers and a mother who was here one minute and gone the next”.
Hailed by Rolling Stone as the greatest guitarist of all time, Jimi Hendrix was also one of the biggest cultural figures of the Sixties, a psychedelic voodoo child who spewed clouds of distortion and pot smoke.
A left-hander who took a right-handed Fender Stratocaster and played it upside down, Hendrix pioneered the use of the instrument as an electronic sound source.
Players before Hendrix had experimented with feedback and distortion, but he turned those effects and others into a controlled, fluid vocabulary every bit as personal as the blues with which he began.
But while he unleashed noise with uncanny mastery — he did not consider himself a good singer, yet his vocals were nearly as evocative as his guitar playing.
‘The Jimi Hendrix Experience’ held its first rehearsal on October 6, 1966 – coincidentally, the very day that possession of LSD became illegal in the U.S. Hendrix was an instant sensation in Britain, where he was befriended by such admiring colleagues as Eric Clapton [then playing with Cream] and Bob Dylan.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s first three singles – “Hey Joe,” “Purple Haze” and “The Wind Cries Mary” – all made the British Top ten, with “Purple Haze” peaking at #3.
After conquering Britain, Hendrix found fame in his homeland as a result of a memorable performance at the Monterey International Pop Festival – in California – on June 18, 1967.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s virtuosity and mastery of the emerging psychedelic style, delivered with flair and theatricality by an exotically attired Hendrix, made him one of the breakout artists of the festival [along with Janis Joplin, Otis Redding and the Who].
The Jimi Hendrix Experience played only eight songs at Monterey, but the force of their performance would quickly propel him to fame in his Homeland.
After a highly sexualized performance of the Troggs’ “Wild Thing,” Hendrix set fire to his Fender Stratocaster. “It was like a sacrifice,” Hendrix later explained. “You sacrifice the things you love. I love my guitar. I’d just finished painting it that day and was really into it.”
Hendrix’s performances at Monterey and Woodstock have become part of rock and roll legend. What is often overlooked is how hard he worked – or how hard he was worked by his management company – as a touring artist. In the spring of 1968, for instance, the Jimi Hendrix Experience performed 63 shows in 66 days.
Under extreme pressure from a combination of hours of nonstop work, sudden celebrity, creative demands and drug-taking, Hendrix was beginning to show signs of exhaustion by 1970. It was evident in his relatively lackluster performance at the Isle of Wight Festival that August. He performed his last concert in Germany on September 6.
On September 18, he died from suffocation, having inhaled vomit due to barbiturate intoxication. He was 27 years old.
The following from Woodstock Story goes into details and theories on Jimi’s death… was he murdered? Friends state that in Hendrix’s final days, he became increasingly more paranoid. Did Hendrix have a feeling that his end was coming soon?
The circumstances surrounding his death are still speculated upon. After a couple of days missing, Hendrix was found dead at the flat of his girlfriend Monika Dannemann. The autopsy revealed large quantities of red wine in his stomach along with his lungs. The official cause of death was recorded as inhalation of vomit and barbiturate intoxication.
The recorded facts paint a vague portrait of Hendrix’s death, and the events surrounding the incident leave a lot of questions unanswered. Did Jimi Hendrix simply fall victim to the excessive lifestyle in which many other musicians have met their doom, or is there more to his death than meets the eye?
On the morning of his death, girlfriend Dannemann claims to have woken up to find Hendrix sleeping normally and proceeded to go out for cigarettes. Upon return her story states that she found that Hendrix had gotten sick and was having trouble breathing. She called Eric Burdon of the Animals who they had partied with the night before; he demanded that she call an ambulance. Dannemann claims that the ambulance arrived at about 11:30 a.m. and that she rode with Hendrix on the way to the hospital where he suffocated en route.
The recollection of the ambulance attendants are a direct contradiction of Dannemann’s story and claim that the apartment was empty except for Hendrix lying dead on the bed. After an unsuccessful attempt at revival, they pronounced him dead. The autopsy failed to conclude the time of death, but it was evident that Hendrix had been dead for some time before the paramedics arrived….. [if you are intrigued to read on click H E R E for more on the murder theory]
We were unable to source a video for ‘CASTLES MADE OF SAND’ … so instead check out Jimi’s performance at Woodstock of the ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ above.
L Y R I C S
Down the street you can hear her scream
“you’re a disgrace”
As she slams the door in his drunken face,
And now he stands outside and all the neighbours start to gossip and drool.
He cries “Oh girl, you must be mad,
What happened to the sweet love you and me had?”
Against the door he leans and starts a scene,
And his tears fall and burn the garden green.
And so castles made of sand,
fall in the sea, eventually.
A little Indian brave who before he was ten,
played war games in the woods
with his Indian friends,
and he built a dream that when he grew up,
he would be a fearless warrior Indian Chief.
Many moons passed and more the dream grew strong,
He would sing his first war song,
And fight his first battle,
but something went wrong,
Surprise attack killed him in his sleep that night
And so castles made of sand,
melts into the sea eventually.
There was a young girl, whose heart was a frown,
Because she was crippled for life,
and couldn’t speak a sound
And she wished and prayed she would stop living,
so she decided to die.
She drew her wheel chair to the edge of the shore,
and to her legs she smiled
“You won’t hurt me no more.”
But then a sight she’d never seen made her
JUMP AND SAY
“Look, a golden winged ship is passing my way”
And it really didn’t have to stop…
it just kept on going.
And so castles made of sand slips into the sea, Eventually.