The 1960’s was an era of innovation and greatness for the genre of U.S. Rock. The previous decade of British rock had lost its grandeur, and America was hungering for something new. It was artists like Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan that satisfied that hunger. In the late 1960’s, large-scale concerts with massive audiences came to rise, as loyal fans from all across the country flocked to music festivals like Woodstock.
The two artists I’m listening to for this project are Jimi Hendrix, and Bob Dylan. Jimi Hendrix was (and still is) one of the greatest guitar players and performers of all time. Essentially he redefined the way the world viewed rock and roll. He introduced concepts to the genre that the world had never heard before, with his genius use of distortion and other effects on the guitar. As a child, Hendrix taught himself how to play guitar. He started out as a session guitarist, playing back-up guitar for other bands in the recording studio, and then set out on a solo career. In 1966 (or 67, I couldn’t the exact year) he formed “The Jimi Hendrix Experience”, consisting of just himself and a drummer and bassist. The trio went on to hit the UK Top 10 three times during the first half of 1967. In 1970, before he could complete his fourth album, which was to be named First Rays of the New Rising Sun, he tragically died of drug-related causes.
The next artist I listened to was Bob Dylan. As a child, just like Hendrix, Dylan learned to play the guitar, but also the harmonica as well. He went to college to study art, but dropped out at the end of his freshman year to become a full-time musician. He spent most of 1961 playing at numerous Greenwich coffeehouses, and opening up for bluesmen like John Lee Hooker. The last performance with John Lee Hooker caught the attention of Atlantics Records executive John Hammond, and Dylan was signed to his label. He went on to produce several successful records, but on July 29, 1966, he suffered a near-fatal motorcycle crash. He recovered fine and well, but he was a changed man. He no longer desired to play his usual energetic, fiery, folk rock. His next couple albums, John Wesley Harding, and Nashville Skyline marked his transition to calmer, country rock. He’s since released over 10 albums, and is still recognized as one of the world’s most prominent folk rock guitarists.
The musical examples by Jimi Hendrix I listened to were Little Wing, All Along the Watchtower, The Wind Cries Mary, and Wait Until Tomorrow. The lyrics for all of these songs are of a certain mood or emotion, but it’s so hard to identify, since most of his lyrics don’t make a whole lot of sense like blues lyrics do. The best I can say about them is that they sound sadly optimistic… as if he’s got something he wishes he could do or have, but he can’t which makes him a little sad, but at the same time he’s too happy to care. They’re wistful lyrics, yet at the same time they sound content with life as it is. This is all probably because he wrote most or all of his lyrics while he was on drugs. The tempo for Wind Cries Mary is really slow, while the tempo for All Along the Watchtower is faster (although some might debate that the tempo is the same and that Wind Cries Mary is just a sleepier song). Little Wing and Wait Until Tomorrow are pretty much the same tempo as each other, but in between the first two… more of a medium paced tempo. The majority of Hendrix’s songs have call and response, they all have the same texture as far as band organization is concerned, although the textures he could achieve with his guitar alone was mindblowing. As far as the form of his songs goes, they’re all 16 bars as far as I can tell.
The songs I listened to by Bob Dylan were A Hard Rain’s-A-Gonna Fall, Lay Lady Lay, Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You, and The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carrol. From these examples I realized that Bob Dylan doesn’t have any rigid type of lyrics that he sticks to. A lot of his songs’ lyrics are sad and wistful, but some like Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You are happy lyrics. His lyrics make you feel like reminiscing on your life in my opinion. A lot of his songs have a medium-paced, steady, driving tempo. Not a lot of his songs have call and response, like The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carrol, and some do, like Lay Lady Lay. As far as I was able to tell, all of the examples I listened to were 16-bar pattern. His texture varied from Delta Blues, with just him and an acoustic guitar, to a full symphony, to his most common, jazz band arrangement. Hard Rains Gonna Fall is just one example of a song he used the Delta blues texture with.
I would say that Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan best represent what the music of the 60’s was about, which is why I picked them.
As a Hendrix fan, I’m fascinated by his groundbreaking work with distortion, and amplification effects. He produced sounds I didn’t even know could come from a guitar.
I enjoyed Hendrix the best, because I’ve always listened to him, ever since I started playing guitar. And I like Bob Dylan sometimes, just for easy listening, but I have to say, he’s not my favorite.
I would definitely recommend we listen to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert Collins, maybe a little James Gang, Funkadelic, and many more.