Tag Archives: Jimi Hendrix

C.K. Williams on Whitman

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C.K. Williams on Whitman
Princeton University Press

But which of us isn’t a similar jerry-built motion machine? Which of us doesn’t sometimes feel that we’re weird pop-ups of impulses, ambitions, desires, and dreams? But we don’t live in poems, even those of us who are poets; unlike Whitman, we plunge into our poems, but then we emerge: we are the makers of our poems – Whitman’s poems made him; he existed in them in a way he existed nowhere else.

Whether Marc Chagall or Jimi Hendrix. Sylvia Plath or Tom Waits – ought not a similar persuasion be applied to most true artists who essentially live both inside of and with their art? It’s hard to think of any of these artists, including Walt Whitman, in any other way, which, to varying degrees, is exactly what this fine little pocket book addresses.

That C.K. Williams on Whitman is deeply entrenched within the parameters of (fine) poetry, most certainly helps it along its way; and is therefore, all the more readable for it. As Robert Pinsky has written: ”This is the exuberant, true book of a poet, of two poets: a personal, illuminating, and beautiful demonstration of the truest reading.”

That it most definitely is.

From such musicality as:

The carnival of sleighs, the clinking and
shouted jokes and pelts of snowball…

to such colourful and kaleidoscopic revelation as: ”Just reading it, the brilliance of the moments of inspiration are like raw synaptic explosions, like flashbulbs going off in the brain, in the mind: pop, pop, pop. The images, the ideas, the visions, the insights, the proclamations, the stacks of brilliant verbal conjunctions, the musical inventiveness and uniqueness: one after the other, again and again, in a form that reveals them naked, unmodulated, undimmed by any apparent resort to the traditional resources of poetic artfulness.”

Phew., as a lover of poetry and the occasional analysis thereof: what more could one ask for?

David Marx

Jimi Hendrix London

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Jimi Hendrix London

By William Saunders

Roaring Forties Press – $14.95

Jimi Hendrix London, is, as its title suggests, another throw of the dice by way of re-tracing the arrival of Jimi Hendrix in London; the city that was to propel him to gargantuous worldwide fame in a mere matter of months.

From his arrival in England’s capital in September 1966 – replete with forty dollars and a guitar supposedly stolen from The Rolling Stones – to the open verdict that was decided at the inquest into his death at 34 Westminster Coronor’s Court, 65 Horseferry Road (”a squat little building a few hundred yards from Westminster Abbey”), everything the singer/songwriter/guitarist extraordinaire did in London, is herein meticulously recorded.

As the synopsis on the back cover makes clear: ”Journalist and poet William Saunders retraces Jimi’s London odyssey, weaving the story of his public and private life around the studios and clubs, hotels and apartments, back streets and concert halls where he lived and played.”

Written in a manner that is both attractive and easy to read, most of the chapters consist of bite-size chunks of information, that traverse the dense and extremely productive period of one of the finest musicians ever to have graced the world – let alone London.

Is it any wonder that even The Beatles were mighty taken, as Suanders makes by clear with regards Hendrix’s rendition of ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,’ a mere three days after it’s release (in the chapter ‘rise and shine’): ”It was during a Sunday evening concert at the Saville Theatre that Jimi pulled off one of his great coups de theatre. On the first Sunday of June; the Experience were top of the bill, and the 1,200-seat threatre was full […]. Paul McCartney, who was in the audience, was deeply impressed […]. ‘To think that the album meant so much to him as to actually do it by the Sunday night, three days after the release. He must have been so into it, because normally it might take a day for rehearsal and then you might wonder whether you’d put it in, but he just opened with it. It’s a pretty major compliment in any one’s book. I put that down as one of the great honours of my career, I’m sure he wouldn’t have thought of it as an honour, I’m sure he thought it was the other way round, but to me that was like a great boost.”

As a major fan of Hendrix, I was surprised to learn of his penchant for mimicking a variety of English accents, which ‘why can’t the english teach their children how to speak’ interestingly touches on: ”Even the orthodox usage of the BBC could take Jimi by surprise and stimulate his imagination. ”I heard big impressive words spoken on telly,” he told his friend the American journalist Sharon Lawrence. ”I’ll never forget watching the news and a reporter speaking of ‘uncharted waters.’ Ever since I have wanted to use ‘uncharted waters’ in a song. That’s life in a nutshell. Hearing English spoken in England was like opening a door.”

All nineteen chapters of Jimi Hendrix London has something of idiosyncrantic interest to offer; to such a degree in fact, that it will invariably entice even the most devout of Hendrix fans – myself included.

David Marx