This is a Hendrix song, I hope I don’t murder it

“This is a Hendrix song, I hope I don’t murder it.”

In the 1960s psychedelic rock rose alongside LSD in the counter-culture community. This kind of music is meant to emulate the feeling of a psychedelic trip. In 1968 The Jimi Hendrix Experience released the album “Electric Ladyland.” The second track “Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)” invites the listener to travel with him on a magic carpet. Second only to a track of distorted trippy noises, this song is where the music begins and so does the “trip.” 50 years later, Nai Palm, the lead singer of the band Hiatus Kaiyote released her slow sweet cover of this song fifty years later. It can take different things for someone to feel emotionally connected to a song, depending on when in time it was made and listened to.

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This track paints the image of the upcoming album. The band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, consists of Jimi plus drums, guitar, and bass. Jimi was revolutionizing Rock and Roll by incorporating jazz, blues, and funk into his rock. His fans were those who wanted to rebel against every social norm, including the standard of rock music. These same fans were also big into psychedelics, hence their appreciation for the psychedelic rock genre.

Nai palm covered this rock song. The purpose is to put her twist on a song and artist she loves. The cover features her, her guitar, and stacked vocal harmonies. Fans of Nai Palm admire her individuality and minimalism. Today, we have the technology produce music and then the internet, to share our work across the globe. This allows Nai Palm -an Australian artist- to have fans from all over the world. Nai palm took all but one instrument out of the rock band. She just plays her guitar alone, and layers vocals in harmonies that build intensity in lieu of a band with drums and bass.

Jimi Hendrix used this song at the beginning of his album as an introduction to the album. The song’s role as the opening of the album, would be lost if the song were a single. Without the rest of the album, Electric Ladyland would refer only to the place described in the song. It wouldn’t hold the second meaning of the beginning of the album. This song sets the tone of the album and gives the song the meaning of an introduction. It is a call to adventure. It says, time to listen to this album!

Jimi Hendrix sings of a land across the sea that it’s time you traveled to on a magic carpet. This song sets the mystical tone of the album. Toward the end of the album is a song with a similar message that seems to serve as an outro. He sings of taking you to Atlantis, under the sea this time as opposed to over. He sings of a happy mermaid and cheerful man who wait, as opposed to a group of electric women. Jimi clearly placed these songs in places where the timing adds to their meaning.

Nai palm covered this single Hendrix song to honor a musician she has a deep appreciation for. Jimi is one of her favorite artists, and she took the opportunity to re-stylize one of his classic pieces of rock. Nai Palm was so sentimental about this she traveled to New York to record the single in the same city that Jimi recorded the original in.

The time at which Jimi’s album Electric Ladyland song came out was incredibly influential to how the music was received due to current events. In 1968, A kairotic moment opened for those who wanted to make statements about war and peace. The Vietnam war was broadcast to millions of Americans on TV. Young student protesters promoting anti-violence were gunned down on their own college campus by the national guard. The leader of the civil rights movement Martin Luther King Jr, and Robert F. Kennedy the United States Attorney General were both assassinated. From these events emerged a group of people who wanted to rebel against all parts of their society.

Nai Palm’s cover of Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland) sits amongst original songs and covers of hers. There is nothing special about the timing of this song amongst the others. It doesn’t hold the meaning that Jimi’s version does of an introduction to a specific album.

Nai palm’s unique genre defying sound comes from the variety of cultures she is inspired by. Her parents exposed her to soul, classic rock, but also northwest African and Spanish music as a child. She takes things she likes from her childhood and foreword and makes them her own through her music. If she were born a decade earlier, her musical inspirations would likely be different. Kairos makes her music so unique, because the opportunities to use other artists as inspiration fluxuate as time moves. Nai Palm’s music has the sound and effect on listeners that it does because of the time during which she is making it.

Electric Ladyland is a place to go to be surrounded by love. Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland) invites the listener to go to the land, to listen to the album. Jimi was an icon for the people of his time who hated the ugliness of the present and wanted an escape. He headlined music festivals like Woodstock, which were safe havens for those who wanted to diverge from the current society which was filled with segregation, discrimination, war, and laws saying who you can have sex with and where. Peace, love, community living, embracing all cultures, and having sex freely, were all values that Woodstock goers possessed.

Nai palm usually plays with a band and Jimi did as well, but she chose to do this song as a cover on her own, as opposed to with the rest of her band. This makes the song feel more personal, like a one on one invitation. She takes Jimi’s musical ideas and sharpens them with recording technology. By combining vocals into chords instead of a band. Nai Palm sings all of the little riffs that Jimi plays on guitar, in her cover. She took a low-fi sounding song and clarified it. She was able to do this because of the music production technology we have now that didn’t exist 50 years ago. When Nai Palm’s voice is isolated from a band, her voice is very clear. Her style feels personal and emotional, the listening experience is intimate. You can hear which lines of Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland) Nai Palm felt were important, by the way she raises the intensity in certain places. She does this through guitar rhythm and adding layers of vocals. They both have harmonies in them but hers is not the same as Jimi’s. She made decisions to emphasize certain words with the volume of her voice.

The Jimi version is very messy and swoopy and hard to put your finger on the beat. Nai palm also uses that feeling of un-even, inconsistent, but everything where its feels right even if it’s not on the downbeat. Something can feel really beautiful about vocal harmony if the voices are perfectly synced with each other, but it’s not in time with the rest of the music.

In both versions, this song feels flowy and out of time. The techniques create a mystical sound, that emulates the feeling of the world described in the song. Though they executed it differently, the result is an other-worldly sound that puts the listener in a specific emotional place. Both artists were non-conformists in their times. They pulled inspiration from similar sources, and even were able to create similar feelings, but the outcomes sound extremely different. They both sing of love and pleasure, injecting emotion into the song with their different instrumentation techniques. Both artists sing a timeless, feel-good song that takes the listener on a mental vacation.

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