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)
Recorded April 3, 1967 (1967-04-03) at Olympic Sound Studios, London
Genre Psychedelic rock, hard rock, acid rock, blues rock
Length 4:14
Label Track, Reprise
Writer Jimi Hendrix
Producer Chas Chandler
Are You Experienced track listing
"Remember"
(10)
"Are You Experienced?"
(11)
"Hey Joe"[1]
(12)

"Are You Experienced?" is a song by English-American psychedelic rock band the Jimi Hendrix Experience, featured as the title track on their 1967 debut album Are You Experienced. Written by eponymous frontman Jimi Hendrix and produced by band manager Chas Chandler, the song was recorded towards the end of the production cycle for Are You Experienced, and featured as the closing track on both the original and the North American versions of the album.

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", describing the song as follows:

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 the Jimi Hendrix Experience a number of times in 1967 and 1968. One of the most notable performances took place at the Saville Theatre in London on June 4, 1967, at a show dubbed by Shapiro and Glebbeek (as the last before the band's famous performance at the Monterey Pop Festival that month) as "a 'farewell' concert".[5] The song was used as the closing number in the set, after which Hendrix "ended the gig by smashing a guitar handed to him for the finale ... and hurling it into the audience".[6] According to a review of the show published in the Disc and Music Echo, the rendition of the Are You Experienced title track was "smashing [and] ear splitting".[7]

Another noteworthy performance of the song came at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco, California on October 11, 1968, for which Virgil Gonzales joined the band on flute for the extended rendition.[8] This recording was later featured on the 1992 version of the Live at Winterland album, and on the Winterland box set released in 2011,[9] while the October 10 performance of the song was featured on The Jimi Hendrix Concerts in 1982.[10]

Legacy[edit]

Since its release, "Are You Experienced?" has been covered by many different artists. The first commercially released cover of the track was by the Purple Fox in 1971, for a tribute album simply named Tribute to Jimi Hendrix,[11] and other artists to have released renditions of the song include New Wave group Devo in 1984, Britpop band the Mock Turtles in 1990, and punk rock singer-songwriter Patti Smith in 2007.[12] The original song was later included on the 2001 posthumous compilation album Voodoo Child: The Jimi Hendrix Collection,[13] while a previously unreleased recording was featured on the 2010 box set West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology.[14]

Personnel[edit]

References[edit]

  • Geldeart, Gary; Rodham, Steve (2007), Jimi Hendrix: The Studio Log – 2008 Edition, Warrington, Chesire: Jimpress 
  • Shapiro, Harry; Glebbeek, Caesar (1995), Jimi Hendrix: Electric Gypsy, New York City, New York: St. Martin's Press 

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ "Hey Joe" was not featured on the original 1967 release of Are You Experienced, but included on the 1997 remastered version issued by Experienced Hendrix.
  2. ^ a b Geldeart & Rodham 2007, p. 33
  3. ^ a b Shapiro & Glebbeek 1995, p. 526
  4. ^ Shapiro & Glebbeek 1995, p. 180
  5. ^ Shapiro & Glebbeek 1995, p. 182
  6. ^ Shapiro & Glebbeek 1995, p. 183
  7. ^ "4 June Saville". Just Ask the Axis. Digital Highway. Retrieved April 6, 2013. 
  8. ^ Shapiro & Glebbeek 1995, p. 299
  9. ^ "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. 
  10. ^ Shapiro & Glebbeek 1995, p. 550
  11. ^ "Recording: Are You Experienced - The Purple Fox". Second Hand Songs. Retrieved April 6, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Song: Are You Experienced? - Jimi Hendrix". Second Hand Songs. Retrieved April 6, 2013. 
  13. ^ Planer, Lindsay. "Voodoo Child: The Jimi Hendrix Collection - Jimi Hendrix". Allmusic. Retrieved April 6, 2013. 
  14. ^ Westergaard, Sean. "West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology - Jimi Hendrix". Allmusic. Retrieved April 6, 2013.