Yesterday I quoted Dvořák saying (in 1893) “I am convinced that the future music of this country must be founded on what are called Negro melodies. These can be the foundation of a serious and original school of composition, to be developed in the United States. These beautiful and varied themes are the product of the soil. They are the folk songs of America and your composers must turn to them.” Somehow he failed to predict that America’s composers would be what they called “Negros” back then. I want to recommend one piece by such a composer: Little Wing, by Jimi Hendrix.
I’ve felt a little guilty not having Hendrix in SotD, but there’s a problem; his recordings don’t do that much for me. The only one I’ve actually listened to for pleasure in recent decades is Band of Gypsys and it’s fine, but so sloppy. Little Wing though, over the years it’s become a paintbrush that other artists have used to write slashes of musical fire across the sky.
There’s not much to say about the song; typically spaced-out Hendrix lyrics, cool chord changes and bits of melody. I’m saving space for links, of which there are a lot.
Little Wing is on Layla with nice guitars, but it’s ponderous, especially the vocal. But there’s an ace version on the Clapton/Winwood Live at Madison Square Garden, with the best parts of the Layla arrangement and both guys in good voice: iTunes Spotify, Amazon.
Nigel Kennedy, the bad-boy Brit violinist, did an album of Hendrix covers, which is dreamy and enjoyable but not really essential — I caught the tour and that was better, Hey Joe was so sad it brought tears to my eyes. But Little Wing is the album’s highlight: iTunes, Spotify, Amazon.