Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The heaviest New Year's Eve guitar jam ever: Hendrix does "Machine Gun"

For many years I listened to a cassette tape recording of the sacred New Year's Eve (1969) performance of "Machine Gun" on my home stereo (and my Walkman, when I wanted to feel elevated as I loped down the sidewalk). 

In the late '90s I bought the CD to better hear the glorious Stratocaster tones, and that was enough. I was grateful the recording existed and never imagined being able to see the magical (spontaneous) Hendrix creative process at work.

In the early '00s I happened on a VHS documentary which featured snippets from the famous live recording of "Machine Gun" with awed commentary from Lenny Kravitz. This was like finding the Holy Grail. I rewound the tape a few times and told myself I'd rent the video again when I needed a fix.

And on the eighth day, programmers created Vimeo, where I can now watch the video below whenever fancy strikes.

How many ways do I love thee? 

The black and white film strips this down to the music and the music alone, as it should. 

Then there's Jimi Hendrix tuning, like a mere mortal, and improvising for the first 90 seconds, because he can. 

Even as history is in the making, the camera eye slips into a psychedelic cloud at 3:48. 

At 4:19, we have the grandest, most balls-out string bend ever committed to fretboard, akin to a suspended air raid siren, as The Solo to Beat All Solos starts. 

At 7:21, when Hendrix could easily go back to the verse, he instead continues on with more wah-wah pedal gravy. 

And all the while as Jimi steers this three-and-a half minute, mellifluous solo, he barely looks at his guitar, as if it were an appendage. 

We will never see his like again.


Other "Truth and Beauty" guitar hero essays:

          Click here for "The Second Coming:  Stevie Ray Vaughan," a first-hand                                                                                account of Vaughan's final concert

here for "It was 70 years ago today:  an appreciation of Jimi Hendrix"
  here for "Link Wray's 'Rumble'"          
here for "Great Guitar Solos, #1:  Eddie Hazel (Funkadelic)"

here for "Great Guitar Solos, #2:  Frank Zappa"

here for "Great Guitar Solos, #3:  Hiram Bullock" 

here for "Great Guitar Solos, #4: Dweezil Zappa Nails 'Eruption'"

here for "Great Guitar Solos, #5:  Alvin Lee"

 here for "Great Guitar Solos, #6: Neil Young's 'Hey Hey, My My'"

and here for "Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar - The Six-String Wizardry of Frank Zappa, Part II"


  1. hey nice post mehn. I like your style of writing. The way you writes reminds me of an equally interesting post that I read some time ago on Daniel Uyi's blog titled How To Make The World A Better Place And Live A Good Life .
    keep up the good work.


  2. Great post. Great, great center of the cyclone you give us here. I have the concert poster from that night framed on the wall next to my bed. Genius as he was, never forget how much practice and play Jimi went through to become the greatest musician of all-time (in my opinion).

  3. At about 11 minutes till Midnight, New Years Eve- 1969 going into 1970, The Band Of Gypsys Jimi Hendrix; took the stage and Opened with "WHO KNOW's" which is a Master Piece in and of itself, with it's soul full Sound and Hendrix, mesmerizing Blistering Solo's. The Song ended precisely Midnight. At This Point Hendrix, wished all a (Quote) "Happy New Year first of all of all, Hope you have a Million or 2 Million More, IF WE CAN GET OVER THIS SUMMER, Yah ha ha - Like to Dedicate this next song to The Dragon scene, all the Soldiers fighting in New York, Chicago and Milwaukee, ( THE Panthers and Weather Underground) oh yes and all the Soldiers in Vietnam".. At this Point Hendrix, and the BOG, Launch into "Machine Gun" A song so Poignant that you Can Feel The Deep Pain, smell Death, and Hear Planes dive Bombing Payloads of Napalm and 500 Pound Bombs - The Song Puts You in the Rice Paddies with Jungle Rot between your toes, The Un-earthly Mourn full sound coming From Hendrix, Stratocaster one minute, then it is converted into an M-16 a second Later.... When Miles Davis, was asked about Hendrix, Miles Shook his head and said , "That _other _ucking Machine Gun".. I, Too, would Rate Machine Gun, as his Most Memorable Performance, Second to Hendrix, rendition of the National Anthem at Woodstock. Anyone that is being real, and not biased for whatever reason, Would agree HENDIX, was and is, The Greatest Guitarist that breathed air. I Love Clapton in the Old days, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Robin Trower. Jeff Beck is on the list somewhere? But This short narrative is not about the ranking, as we have already agreed Hendrix, as the MASTER! This is about The End Of Summer, 1970. If You consult an old Farmers Almanac from 1970, It shows that at that Time, Summer Ended the 18th Day, of 1970 at which time we crossed over into the Fall Equinox! In essence the Master, HENDRIX, Predicted almost to the hour, His own Death... If You Look at the Pictures of Him with That Monica Danneman, Witch - on Sept 17th, having Tea with his Guitar, out in the Garden Looking into the Sun, You can See a Look I have Never seen on his Face. A look of Quiet resignation to his fate, Then he goes out Later that Evening and Jams with the Members of "WAR" and leaves his Favorite Guitar at the Jam, saying; "I'll get it Back Later..

  4. Thanks for your comment, droptoprob. Lots of juicy information there.