Jimi Hendrix: The Archetype
Jimi Hendrix is an archetype with a message. I was intrigued when he sang "I sent a message of love, don't you run away, look into your heart, come on along with me today". I can see how these lyrics would be overlooked. Hendrix might agree they are too direct to be poetry. But I think Jimi would also say they are heartfelt. I wanted to understand what he meant by them.
I first heard Jimi's music as an adolescent in the 90's. I listened to his guitar and meditated on his life. Probably a little too much. I was consumed, and in retrospect, I don't think Jimi Hendrix was the best role model for a teenager. It’s understandable why a teenager might by drawn to him. He struggled with a lot of issues both personal and global. His life was tragic. He did not take care of his health, and unfortunately, he succeeded in escaping his pain with music, drugs and dreams; he died a young man. But I wasn't focused on Jimi's personal struggles. I knew he had the blues. I had the blues too and I thought the blues was everywhere. I wasn't worried about his dysfunctional personal life because I could see the whole world was suffering from dysfunction on many levels, and I heard Jimi addressing the world's problems with his music. To me Jimi was in fact a messenger of universal love, and I believed he told the truth. He was a participant. He certainly wasn't perfect, but the message in his music was consistent: Live in Love.
When Jimi Hendrix put down his ax in a ritual fiery sacrifice at the Monterey pop festival in 1967, perhaps a few saw the future. The pyre was lit. Hendrix went willingly into those flames. He knew on a deep level that everyone had to face the light of the fire, and that sacrifice is an inevitable part of our lives. If you ask me this was expressed in his performance. There's no way around the fact that life changes. All things pass. Everyone must let go of something. Everyone must forgo pleasure to avoid pain at one time or another. When we succeed, we must let go of our glory and move into the next moment. And if we fail, we must process the pain, learn from it and try again. We must face ourselves and face our nature, and then face each other.
Jimi's 1967 performance at the Monterey Pop was symbolic. The message was to accept the inevitable and live in love. Let the fire come, let the soul glow, let the candle burn, and be thankful for the light in the dark, for without it, we would not see.
Yes, Jimi Hendrix burned bright and fast. Too fast. His music lit the dark sky with soaring notes, trailing sparks of polyphonic flames and psychedelic sonority. For a moment, like the life of a shooting star, he appeared, as a cosmic mirror, reflecting the light of truth before vanishing.