A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 132: The Big Bang of Rock Turns 50!


“I came to England, picked out the two best musicians, the best equipment, and all we are trying to do now is create, create, create, music, our own personal sound, our own personal being…”

Are You Experienced was released 50 years ago today! Say WHAAAAT? 50??? Far out, man. This album has been called the greatest and most influential debut album of all time. Music critic Dave Marsh writes, “Are You Experienced is sort of the musical equivalent of the Big Bang that scientists believed originated the universe. In both cases, many generations later, the world is still trying to absorb, organize and make sense of what that initiating event spewed forth.”

I can’t claim to remember when this album came out as I was one year old at the time. But I did listen to it and much more Jimi in my teens and twenties, and had the album spinning on my turntable less than a couple of decades after its release. Four or five songs off of Experienced were standards on the rock stations I grew up listening to. And if you were into rock music at all (and I was definitely into it), Hendrix was THE Guitar God, second to none, the golden standard, the Wayne Gretzky of freaky-haired ax wielders.

Are You Experienced sounds and feels like nothing else. It is so hard to believe it is 50 years old because it sounds so fresh. On this celebration of the Birth of the Other Big Bang, here are some of my random thoughts on this scorching, far out, explosive album:

  • “Purple Haze” opens the album. This song alone must have blown people’s minds in 1967. Can you imagine turning on the radio and hearing hits like Lulu’s “To Sir with Love” or the Monkees “I’m a Believer” and then the DJ puts on this track that sounds like the beginning of an alien invasion?! Bom, BAM, Bom, BAM, Bom, BAM, Bom, BAM!!! Holy Hannah Banana
  • I said the album sounds fresh but that doesn’t mean it is without its dated elements. My favorite is “Foxey Lady”. That term sounds so quaint 50 years later. It’s hard to imagine that hip dudes in the ’60s actually referred to good-looking women this way. It remains a blistering track but was mined for comic gold in “Wayne’s World” as Garth lip-syncs it for the woman he adores.
  • I always listened to Hendrix to hear Hendrix, the guitar work that seemed to be produced by someone returned from some alternative future world. But years later, when I started playing the drums, I began to listen to music to hear what the drummers were doing. “Manic Depression”, the second track on this album, just about sent me into fits of aural pleasure: Mitch Mitchell absolutely kills it. Undoubtedly one of the greatest rock drummers of all time who often gets eclipsed by the fact that he backed Jimi.
  • Love the hair on these guys on the album jacket photos. If you thought Jimi’s afro was wild, check out Mitchell’s. That is an epic white guy ‘fro, there.


  • “The Wind Cries Mary” is a GREAT song. It really and truly is a GREAT song. Reading the lyrics I can’t help but think Jimi was trying to write like Dylan, especially 1966 Blonde on Blonde Dylan: “Will the wind every remember/ The names it  has blown in the past?/ And with its crutch, its old age and its wisdom/ It whispers, ‘No, this will be the last’/ And the wind cries Mary”.
  • If you want to own a Hendrix album and are wondering which one, well, he only released three in his young life (he was dead at 27) but Experienced is the one. Buy it, download it, whatever – Add it to your collection if you truly consider yourself a lover of rock and of music that matters. Experience it, all you hip dudes and foxey ladies.


A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 59: Words About Music By…

“Music is a world within itself”, Stevie sang. Musicians share a common bond but have such different ways of expressing it. Here are some quotes from famous musicians, describing music, their experience of it, their perspectives and opinions. I was struck by what vast variety of commentary there is here yet such a unity of spirit. It made me think that Beethoven would totally get Henry Rollins, and vice versa, or that Leonard Bernstein would have loved to work with Lady Gaga.

Enjoy musicians’ words about music…

“Music is a safe kind of high.” – Jimi Hendrix

“Music should strike fire from the heart of man, and bring tears from the eyes of woman.” – Ludwig von Beethoven

“Music, at its essence, is what gives us memories. And the longer a song has existed in our lives, the more memories we have of it.” – Stevie Wonder

“Music is such a balm. Always has been. It’s such a heartbeat, like blood thrumming through the womb. That’s why music appeals to people.” – Al Jarreau

“Rock and roll music, if you like it, if you feel it, you can’t help but move to it. That’s what happens to me. I can’t help it.” – Elvis Presley

“Music is the arithmetic of sounds as optics is the geometry of light.” – Claude Debussy

“The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.” – Johann Sebastian Bach

“I believe that music is a spiritual language. My everyday self is pretty mundane and boring, but when I’m making music it allows for me to communicate a kind of transcendence that I can’t communicate otherwise.” – Sufjan Stevens

“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” – Billy Joel

“Music is a lady that I still love because she gives me the air that I breathe. We need all sorts of nourishment. And music satisfies and nourishes the hunger within ourselves for connection and harmony.” – Cat Stevens

“The music is the message, the message is the music. So that’s my little ministry that the Big Man upstairs gave to me – a little ministry called love and happiness.” – Al Green

“Once a song’s out there, it’s no longer mine. And that’s the whole purpose of music: to belong to people.” – Sade Adu

“The reason I play music is to touch people – for selfish reasons, as well. It feels good to make someone else feel something, whether it’s a kiss, a painting, good idea or it’s a song.” – Dave Matthews

“I’ve always felt music is the only way to give an instantaneous moment the feel of slow motion. To romanticize it and glorify it and give it a soundtrack and a rhythm.” – Taylor Swift

“Normally, things are viewed in these little segmented boxes. There’s classical, and then there’s jazz; romantic, and then there’s baroque. I find that very dissatisfying. I was trying to find the thread that connects one type of music – one type of musician – to another, and to follow that thread in some kind of natural, evolutionary way.’ – Jerry Lee Lewis

“I try to give to my music the spiritual quality, very deep in the soul, which does something even if you are not realizing it or analyzing it – that’s the duty of the music.” – Ravi Shankar

“…what I like my music to do to me is awaken the ghosts inside of me. Not the demons, you understand, but the ghosts.” – David Bowie

“I don’t care much about music. What I like is sounds.” – Dizzy Gillespie

“Lean your body forward slightly to support the guitar against your chest, for the poetry of the music should resound in your heart.” – Andres Segovia

“God had to create disco music so I could be born and be successful.” – Donna Summer

“Jazz is a white term to define black people. My music is black classical music.” – Nina Simone

“Music is probably the only real magic I have encountered in my life. There’s not some trick involved with it. It’s pure and it’s real. It moves, it heals, it communicates and does all these incredible things.” – Tom Petty

“I think music is the most phenomenal platform for intellectual thought.” – Annie Lennox

“It doesn’t matter the kind of music, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a cowboy hat or a yarmulke. I don’t care if it’s outer space or pop, the spirit is the same.” – David Lee Roth

“I frequently hear music in the very heart of noise.” – George Gershwin

“All music is folk music. I ain’t never heard a horse sing a song.” – Louis Armstrong

“I hope to refine music, study it, try to find some area that I can unlock. I don’t quite know how to explain it but it’s there. These can’t be the only notes in the world, there’s got to be other notes some place, in some dimension, between the cracks on the piano keys.” – Marvin Gaye

“As you begin to realize that every different type of music, everybody’s individual music, has its own rhythm, life, language and heritage, you realize how life changes, and you learn how to be more open and adaptive to what is around us.” – Yo-Yo Ma

“Tones sound, and roar and storm about me until I have set them down in notes.” – Ludwig von Beethoven

“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” – Leonard Bernstein

“If architecture is frozen music then music must be liquid architecture.” – Quincy Jones

“I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me – like food or water.” – Ray Charles

“Why be in music, why write songs, if you can’t use them to explore life or an idealized vision of life? I believe a lot of our lives are spent asleep, and what I’ve been trying to do is hold on to those moments when a little spark cuts through the fog and nudges you.” – Rufus Wainwright

“One person’s roar is another’s whine, just as one person’s music is another’s unendurable noise.” – Henry Rollins

“What’s great about music is it takes so many kinds of people, including me. Everybody is in a different place.” – Jewel

“What I’ve discovered is that in art, as in music, there’s a lot of truth-and then there’s a lie. The artist is essentially creating his work to make this lie a truth, but he slides it in amongst all the others. The tiny little lie is the moment I live for, my moment. It’s the moment that the audience falls in love.” – Lady Gaga

“Music is gathering. Taking our scattered thoughts and senses and coalescing us back into our core. Music is powerful. The first few chords can change us where no self-help books can.” – Jane Siberry

“Music is always a commentary on society.” – Frank Zappa

“Music was your real passion, this thing you held dear even above family. It was this relationship that never betrayed you. Once it became your job – this thing that was highly visible, this thing that became about commerce – that’s when you were holding onto music like it was a palm tree in a hurricane.” – Eddie Vedder

“Change is an internal thing. Different things happen or transform, and music and art is a documentation of that.” – Matisyahu

“I found music to be the therapy of choice. I guess it is for a lot of people.” – David Byrne

“They teach you there’s a boundary line to music. But, man, there’s no boundary line to art.” – Charlie Parker