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Not necessarily stoned, but beautiful


Jimi's American debut at the Monterey Pop Festival

I've been thinking a lot about Jimi Hendrix lately, and this reminded me of a story about old blues guitarists—specifically, about Lightnin' Hopkins.

Robben Ford, a formidable guitarist who had a hit with a song you may recall ("Wild About You," 1988), was playing with Hopkins when Hopkins missed a change. (A change is where the players shift from one chord to another.) Now, some bluesmen will deliberately come in a half-beat behind the change (John Lee Hooker comes to mind) but Hopkins missed the change completely.

Ford asked him about it later. Now, Hopkins was from the school of "Those white boys want to play the blues so bad—and that's just how they play 'em." So he wasn't going to take no mess from Ford. He told Ford, "Lightnin' change when Lightnin' wanna change."

Blues guitarists of Hopkins's generation didn't appreciate it when people asked them about their influences. These players thought they were being disrespected when someone asked them about who influenced them.

I'm not necessarily sure this is the same anymore. For decades, Eric Clapton has been acknowledging his debt to Robert Johnson, and Clapton's albums and sets routinely include songs by blues greats from the past.

Anyway: Many contemporary guitarists still talk about the influence Hendrix had on them, even though he's been dead since 1970. These are some great players, guys with huge chops of their own. Carlos Santana once said that guitarists used to play in black-and-white, and then Hendrix came along playing in Technicolor. But my favorite take on Hendrix comes from Jeff Beck. Enjoy:
("I'd better find something else to do")

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Wish I'd Said It

Nota bene: “Fear has governed my life, if I think about it. ... I always feel like I’m not good enough for some reason. I wish that wasn’t the case, but left to my own devices, that voice starts speaking up.” – Trent Reznor

“I hate to say this, but not many people care what you do. They care about what you do as much as you care about what they do. Think about it. Just exactly that much. You are not the center of the universe.” — Laurie Anderson

"The path's not yours till you've gone it alone a time." – William Carlos Williams

“Filling this empty space constitutes my identity.” – Twyla Tharp

"My definition of peace is having no noise in my head." – Eric Clapton

"The wreckage of the sky serves to confirm us in delicious error." – John Ashbery

"We are all here by the grace of the big bang. We are all literally the stuff of the stars." – Dwight Owsley

"For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream." – Vincent van Gogh

"It is only with the heart that one can see right; what is essential is invisible to the eye." — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

"Forget about being a perfectionist, because entropy always wins out in the end." – Darren Kaufman.

"Impermanence. Impermanence. Impermanence." – Garry Shandling

"Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; the only earthly certainty is oblivion." – Mark Twain

"There is no realm wherein we have the truth." – Gordon Lish

"Actual life is full of false clues and sign-posts that lead nowhere." – E.M. Forster

“Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe." – Frank Zappa

“I try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.” – Elmore Leonard

“The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.” – Voltaire

• Journal title and subtitle: Ian Hunter, “Man Overboard”

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