Oh, so… Jimi.
Context first. I inherited a good chunk of my music taste from my parents and my elder sister, and from a friend of the family named Doug Wedge.
Mom listened to The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and Peter, Paul, and Mary and other hippie-type music, and Dad listened to Beethoven and The Clancy Brothers… and (if they were both really drunk) they both listened to Bob Dylan. Mom used to say that she felt bad that she missed the whole music scene of the 70s, because she was busy raising kids.
Doug’s mother Sarah occasionally watched Megan and I when we were little, before the 80s starting having its own music. We’d go over to Doug’s and spend the night, and Doug had this really awesome stereo (with a reel-to-reel that we weren’t allowed to touch) and Sarah let Doug buy his own records. We’d horse around with Battlestar Galactica action figures or his old Space 1999 Eagle (it was huge) and when we got bored of that, we’d set up a drum set with four pillows on a coffee table and two tennis rackets for guitars, and we’d put on The Beatles or The Cars or Rush or Kiss and airband away. Doug always played the drums. Megan and I both “played” guitar left-handed, because she was a leftie and I always mimicked what she was doing.
Megan dipped into metal and bought Holy Diver and On Through the Night (and then Pyromania, of course), and then dropped metal for a while and got into 80s New Wave stuff and then Goth and down a myriad path that maybe I could get her to write about some day, because it’s a story in and of itself. Generally, I listened to what she listened to, and Megan became heavily invested in listening to things before they became popular, so throughout high school I was regularly bombarded with new music where the performer would become famous a year or two later when their new album got radio play and I’d get to say, “Red Sails in the Sunset was better” or, “Original Sin blows this album away” or some other pretentious baloney like that.
Anyway, I picked up classic late 60s and early 70s rock much later than most, having skipped over most of it on my way to Prog rock thanks to Doug. Jimi always was around on the radio, of course, but it was a long time before I actually bought one of his albums myself.
I have a thing about distortion which always led me to have difficulties with extended listening to Jimi (or more recently Radiohead). I have some minor hearing loss but the frequency range at which it is apparent makes it hard to get through the spaces where they really go nuts with the boundaries of the instrument.
So I bought Are You Experienced and Electric Ladyland and every once in a while I’d pull them out and listen to the tracks on there that didn’t hit that part of my hearing range that bugged me.
Because of this huge confluence of factors, I always thought from the standpoint of songwriting that Jimi was overrated… I mean, Foxy Lady and Crosstown Traffic and Purple Haze and a couple of his others aren’t exactly, yanno, deep, man, and Fire is one of those songs that when it comes on the radio I find some other channel. Hey Joe and Voodoo Chile made me think maybe I ought to listen to the guy’s entire body of work more, but I never really got around to it.
And then I heard this, which is never on the radio: