Are You Experienced? (song)

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"Are You Experienced?"
Song by the Jimi Hendrix Experience from the album Are You Experienced
Released May 12, 1967 (1967-05-12) (UK)
Recorded Olympic Sound Studios, London, April 3, 1967
Genre Psychedelic rock
Length 4:14
Label Track Records (no. 612-001)
Writer Jimi Hendrix
Producer Chas Chandler
Are You Experienced track listing

"Are You Experienced?"is the title song for the Jimi Hendrix Experience 1967 debut album. It has been called one of Jimi Hendrix's most original compositions on the album by writer Keith Shadwick.[1] The song is largely based on one chord and has a drone-like quality reminiscent of Indian music. It features recorded guitar and drum parts that are played backwards and a repeating piano chord, but no bass. Live recordings from 1968 are found on The Jimi Hendrix Concerts album and Winterland box set.

Recording and production[edit]

"Are You Experienced?" was recorded at London's Olympic Sound Studios on April 3, 1967, the final day of recording for Are You Experienced (along with the lead vocal for "Fire", overdubs for "Love or Confusion", and the master recordings of "Highway Chile" and "May This Be Love").[2] The backwards guitar track was recorded four times, with the last take being used for the final version.[2] According to engineering assistant George Chkiantz, "The original idea [for the guitar recording] was to do a loop, but that gave a problem ... we tried looping it and then we couldn't get it to loop ... in the end Jimi got so impatient doing this, he said 'look, it's quite easy, we're just gonna play' and played it in".[3] It is also possible that Hendrix performed some of the backwards drum parts on the song in addition to drummer Mitch Mitchell.[3]

Composition and lyrics[edit]

Hendrix historians Harry Shapiro and Caesar Glebbeek have praised "Are You Experienced?" as "a majestic setpiece of declamatory anthem rock":

Mitch [Mitchell]'s military snare raps out behind the startlingly contemporary hip-hop scratch sound-effects of tapes running backwards punctuating Jimi's condition for being your guide ('If you can get our mind together'). To what? Sexual ecstasy? Altered states of consciousness? Or just finding yourself, taking time out to view what you're doing from the outside, 'from the bottom of the sea', letting go of the daily grind of the 'measly world'. It is all there for the taking. The secret is being at peace with yourself – 'not necessarily stoned, but beautiful'.[4]

Live performances[edit]

Despite its studio complexity, "Are You Experienced?" was performed live by Experience several times in 1967 and 1968. It was used as the closing number at a Saville Theatre show in London on June 4, 1967. According to a review by Disc and Music Echo, the rendition of the Are You Experienced was "smashing [and] ear splitting".[5] Hendrix "ended the gig by smashing a guitar handed to him for the finale ... and hurling it into the audience".[6] The show was dubbed a "farewell" concert by Shapiro and Glebbeek, before the band headed to the US and their appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival.[7]

A performance recorded at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco, California, on October 10, 1968, was released on the 1982 The Jimi Hendrix Concerts album.[8] A second performance on October 11 was included on a bonus disc for Live at Winterland, with Virgil Gonzales' flute part edited out.[9] In 2011, the song was included on the Winterland box set.[10]

Releases and other renditions[edit]

The original song is included on the 2001 posthumous compilation album Voodoo Child: The Jimi Hendrix Collection,[11] while a previously unreleased take is featured on the 2010 box set West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology.[12] "Are You Experienced?" has been recorded by several artists, including Devo, the Mock Turtles, and Patti Smith.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Shadwick 2003, p. 106–107.
  2. ^ a b Geldeart & Rodham 2007, p. 33
  3. ^ a b Shapiro & Glebbeek 1995, p. 526
  4. ^ Shapiro & Glebbeek 1995, p. 180
  5. ^ "4 June Saville". Just Ask the Axis. Digital Highway. Retrieved April 6, 2013. 
  6. ^ Shapiro & Glebbeek 1995, p. 183
  7. ^ Shapiro & Glebbeek 1995, p. 182
  8. ^ Belmo 1998, p. 216.
  9. ^ Belmo 1998, p. 217.
  10. ^ "Experience Hendrix LLC & Legacy Recordings Launches Fourth Wave of Releases in Critically Acclaimed Jimi Hendrix Catalog Project". Experience Hendrix, L.L.C. June 16, 2011. Retrieved April 6, 2013. 
  11. ^ Planer, Lindsay. "Voodoo Child: The Jimi Hendrix Collection - Jimi Hendrix". Allmusic. Retrieved April 6, 2013. 
  12. ^ Westergaard, Sean. "West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology - Jimi Hendrix". Allmusic. Retrieved April 6, 2013. 

References[edit]

  • Belmo; Loveless, Steve (1998). Jimi Hendrix: Experience the Music. Collector's Guide Publishing Inc. ISBN 1-896522-45-9. 
  • Geldeart, Gary; Rodham, Steve (2007). Jimi Hendrix: The Studio Log - 2008 Edition. Warrington, Chesire: Jimpress. 
  • Shadwick, Keith (2003). Jimi Hendrix: Musician. Backbeat Books. ISBN 0-87930-764-1. 
  • Shapiro, Harry; Glebbeek, Caesar (1995). Jimi Hendrix: Electric Gypsy. New York City, New York: St. Martin's Press.