David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 341: Jimi Hendrix Experience (Little Wing)

April 12, 2024

This week I returned from my niece's wedding in Texas. It was a beautiful ceremony on the grounds of an Art Museum, and I enjoyed watching another couple commit to marriage and being with so many family members.

Not surprisingly, the music during the reception captured my attention, not that I had much choice, given the volume (god, I am getting old). My niece and her husband had a very good DJ who kept the music flowing from the beginning, when the couple entered via a rap song (don't ask me what it was called) and then after dinner, a first dance to a country song (again, please don't ask me what it was called). If you throw in that the aural-visual highlight of the night was probably the Tool song (my son tells me it was called "Enema," which makes me now wish I didn't know what it was called) that brought the groom, his friends, and Lincoln out there to bang/slam/whatever-verb-fits heads, and you can get a sense that the music was very eclectic.

I recognized maybe 1/4 of it, the obligatory ABBA, the AC/DC "You Shook Me All Night Long," the 1970s dance and disco music. All of it provided entertaining viewing of people out there dancing, even if I didn't know or particularly care for the song.

For me, the anticipated highlight of the music was going to be the father/bride dance. My brother-in-law puts me to shame in regards to music aficionado-ness, where either his record or CD collections probably out number my entire music collection in all forms. His collection ranges from classical to jazz to blues to pop to whatever. I didn't know who would primarily pick the song for the father/bride dance, but suspected it would be something not quite the typical fare. No "Isn't She Lovely" (as lovely as that song is). Nothing as trite as "My Girl." Maybe Louis Armstrong's "Wonderful World" if they wanted to concede something easily recognizable. 

They didn't disappoint me, as evidenced immediately by the thirty-second scratchy guitar, twinge of glockenspiel, lead-in to the fantastic drum roll setting up the growly vocal: "Well, she's walking through the clouds." Yep, I am not sure too many fathers and daughters have picked the Jimi Hendrix Experience for their father/bride dance (or at least not since the mid 1970s). "Little Wing" is a perfect song for the moment, especially given the line "with a circus mind that's running wild," incredibly apt for my always intellectually curious niece. And I can only imagine how her smile upon seeing her daddy was a "thousand smiles she gives . . . for free" when he's sad.

Let's just say, I am not sure there would be a dry eye in the house when Hendrix sings near the end, "Fly on, little wing," the perfect expression of love for a father letting his daughter go into a future with an outstanding young now son-in-law. However, we will never know if there would have been a dry eye in the house, because the DJ cut the song short, as he did every song (except the damn Tool one). He was quickly moving on to the mother/son dance, but throughout the night, songs segued into other songs through the beauty of the technology, but left me wanting completion (at least for the few songs I knew and liked).

However, it seems especially a crime to cut short Hendrix's "Little Wing." At 2 minutes and 24 seconds, the song already ends as soon as it begins, a crime in and of itself. The DJ cut the song during the instrumental outro that features Hendrix's barely whispered "fly on/little wing," which makes the crime twice as bad since it is cutting off some legendary guitar work. Read up on "Little Wing" and you can find some pretty cool explanations for how Hendrix was improvising amazing techniques related to tone and effects. I suppose that kind of stuff was going to fly way over the head of the crowd at the reception, but it didn't mean I wanted it to escape.

Maybe the DJ got paid by the song and not by the total time, but I came to resent the early ends of so many songs (some other songs, well, let's just say I was really thankful). I don't get out much, and especially haven't been to a wedding in a long time, but is this typical of a DJ? More typical of a wedding reception where perhaps everyone is afraid the dancing will stop and people will go home?

I don't listen to Hendrix much, so I am thankful that hearing the snippet has caused me to go back and listen to the whole song more repeatedly. Somehow I figure this is how my life would be if I lived a lot closer to my sister and brother-in-law. I would have more moments of hearing something from his collection that would remind me of the vast expanse of music that I don't engage with. It might also have made this song series a lot easier and finished way before now.

Jimi Hendrix Experience. "Little Wing." Axis: Bold As Love. Track: 1967. Link here. 

Day 340: Roxy Music "Avalon"

Day 342: Sublime "Hong Kong Phooey"

See complete list here.