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.

Axis: Bold as Love

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.

This is part of the Song of the Day series (background).

Links · Spotify playlist. Hendrix’s version: iTunes, Spotify, Amazon.

Stevie Ray Vaughan is utterly soulful: iTunes, Spotify, Amazon.

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.

As for live performances, here are Nigel Kennedy, Clapton/Winwood, and finally Jeff Beck feat. Narada Michael Walden on drums and vocals; tasty.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: masse (Jun 05 2018, at 09:42)

stevie ray's "little wing" is just amazing. raw skill, taste, and fluidity.


From: David (Jun 07 2018, at 09:17)

Did you listen to the Radio One Hendrix live album at all? He really seems to have fun on those recordings


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