Jimi Hendrix Wrote One Of His Biggest Songs In 145 Seconds

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Some people say Jimi Hendrix was an alien.

Well, his song “Little Wing” might be proof of that.

Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix in Denmark on September 3, 1970 (photo by Jan Persson/Redferns)

Hendrix recorded his album Axis: Bold as Love in late 1967 at Olympic Studios in London. On this album was one of his biggest songs — “Little Wing.”

His inspiration came from his experience at the Monterey Pop Festival, which was three days of music held in June of 1967. In addition to The Jimi Hendrix Experience, other acts included The Who, Janis Joplin, and The Grateful Dead.

So when Hendrix went into the studio later that year, he channeled what he had found at that festival.

“[‘Little Wing’ is] based on a very, very simple Indian style,” Hendrix said, according to the book Jimi Hendrix: Electric Gypsy“So I figured I take everything I’d see around [at the festival] and put it maybe in the form of a girl … and call it ‘Little Wing,’ and then it will just fly away.”

Hendrix lighting his guitar on fire at the Monterey Pop Festival (photo via History Things)

And in a mere 145 seconds, he came up with “Little Wing.”

Hendrix’s biographer Harry Shapiro describes the shortness of the song perfectly in the book.

“The song fades on a magical solo after only two minutes and twenty-five seconds,” he writes. “Even live, ‘Little Wing’ was hardly any longer — he said what he wanted to say and stopped.”

He also describes the arrangement of the song beautifully.

“Musically, ‘Little Wing’ is structured to lay a gossamer touch across the whole song from the arresting opening statement and the haunting glockenspiel to the use of a Leslie speaker cabinet for the guitar,” he said.

Truly, one of Hendrix’s greatest songs. And to think he wrote it in 145 seconds is incredible.

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Caleb Murphy is a musician who writes about music. His writing appears in Consequence Of Sound, Pittsburgh City Paper, and some other cool places. He blogs about music at calebjmurphy.com.
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