If 6 Was 9

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the 1995 short film and video installation of the same name, see Eija-Liisa Ahtila.
"If 6 Was 9"
Single by The Jimi Hendrix Experience
from the album Axis: Bold as Love
A-side "Stone Free"
Released September 15, 1969 (1969-09-15) (US)
Format Seven-inch 45 rpm record
Recorded Olympic Studios, London, May 4–5, 1967
Genre Rock
Length 5:32
Label Reprise (no. 0853)
Writer(s) Jimi Hendrix
Producer(s) Chas Chandler

"If 6 Was 9" is a song written by Jimi Hendrix and recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. It appeared on the release of their 1967 album Axis: Bold as Love and on the soundtrack for the 1969 film Easy Rider and the soundtrack for the 1991 film Point Break.

Style and instrumentation[edit]

The style of the song has been referred to as "acid-fueled blues".[1] The guitar solo is noteworthy for making innovative use of studio technology for the time, with stereo panning from left to right and vice versa, along with other effects, such as slap echo, fuzzbox distortion, and reverb. [2]

There is some confusion as to whether Hendrix played a flute or a soprano recorder on this track. The credits list Hendrix as playing flute, but recorder player Rodney Waterman and Joe Vanderford of Independent Weekly refer to Hendrix's instrument as a recorder. Early music enthusiast Nicholas S. Lander maintains that "the high tessitura, the typical 'breaking' between octaves, and other characteristics are more suggestive of a soprano recorder."[3]

Compared to the other tracks on Axis: Bold As Love, "If 6 Was 9" suffers from an unusually large amount of tape noise, dropouts, and overall "rough" sound quality. According to Hendrix biographer John McDermott, the master tape used for the album was a quarter-inch open-reel tape belonging to bassist Noel Redding, containing an early rough mix of the song. This technically inferior copy (intended for a home tape player) had to be used at the last minute since the album's final stereo master tape had been accidentally lost, and "If 6 Was 9" was the one song that Hendrix and engineer Eddie Kramer could not satisfactorily remix. They reportedly had to use a clothes iron to remove wrinkles in the badly mishandled tape, copied it onto new studio-quality tape, and inserted it into the final album master with no further modification.

Interpretation[edit]

The theme has been described as an "individualist anthem".[4] The lyrics portray the underlying conflict of the counterculture of the 1960s: the "social and cultural dichotomies" between the hippies and the "white collared conservative" business world of the establishment. Beginning with a blues riff, the lyrics accompany a "spacey" free-form jam, with Hendrix epitomizing the existentialist voice of the youth movement: "I'm the one that's gonna have to die when it's time for me to die/so let me live my life/the way I want to."[5]

Authors Harry Shapiro and Caesar Glebbeek believe the lyrics, "if the mountains fell into the sea" are a reference to the creation myth of the second world of Hopi mythology.[6] Frank Waters' Book of the Hopi (1963) was known to have influenced Hendrix, and many of his songs contain mythological themes and images related to Native Americans in the United States;[7] Hendrix himself was part Cherokee.[8]

Urban legend[edit]

Various urban legends based on numerology have developed around the meaning of number 9 in the song and Hendrix's subsequent accidental death in 1970.[9]

Cover versions[edit]

"If 60's Was 90's"
Single by Beautiful People
Released 1994[10]
Format CD, Single, Vinyl, 12", Promo, 33 ⅓ RPM[10]
Genre House, Breaks, Techno[10]
Label Essential Records[10]
Writer(s) Du Kane/Luke Baldry[10]
Producer(s) Ben Mitchell[10]

Beautiful People cover version[edit]

In 1994, Beautiful People did a remixed version of the song called "If 60's Was 90's" on their album If 60's Were 90's.[11] The song made #74 on the UK Singles Chart[12] and #5 on the Hot Dance Club Songs chart.[13]

Other covers[edit]

Buckethead, unusually playing a Fender Stratocaster in the music video of Axiom Funk's cover version (1996).
  • Tori Amos covered this song on the limited edition CD Single of "Cornflake Girl" released in the United Kingdom as part of a two disc set (sold separately). To date it is one of the few Amos songs that has not been re-released in a collection or boxed set, or made available digitally.[15][16]
  • Lenny Kravitz used to cover this song during his Let Love Tour between 1989 and 1990. One of these performances has been officially released in 2009 on the 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of his album Let Love Rule.

Samples[edit]

  • Punk-rock band Fifteen also quotes the 'White Collared Conservative Businessman' verse in their song "Brian's Song".

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Newquist, Harvey P. (2003). The Blues-Rock Masters. Backbeat Books. p. 32. ISBN 0-87930-735-8. 
  2. ^ Prown, Pete; Harvey P. Newquist (1997). Legends of Rock Guitar: The Essential Reference of Rock's Greatest Guitarists. Hal Leonard. p. 50. ISBN 0-7935-4042-9. 
  3. ^ Lander, Nicholas S. "Recordings". Recorder Home Page: Instrument of Torture or Instrument of Music?. Retrieved 2007-07-16. "Most of this article was previously published in the Australian Journal of Musical Education. From an interview with Lander in Recorder and Music. 20, 2: 50-53 (2000)." 
  4. ^ Pendergast, Sara (2000). "Jimi Hendrix". St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. St. James Press. Retrieved 2007-06-18. 
  5. ^ Vincent, Ricky (1996). Funk: The Music, the People, and the Rhythm of the One. St. Martin's Press. p. 107. ISBN 0-312-13499-1. 
  6. ^ Shapiro & Glebbeek 1995, p. 225
  7. ^ Shapiro & Glebbeek 1995, p. 148
  8. ^ Shapiro & Glebbeek 1995, p. 13
  9. ^ Patterson, Gary R. (2004). Take a Walk on the Dark Side: Rock and Roll Myths, Legends, and Curses. Simon and Schuster. p. 200. ISBN 0-7432-4423-0. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f "If 60's Were 90's". Discogs. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  11. ^ "Beautiful People "If 60's Were 90's" / Continuum Records". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  12. ^ "BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  13. ^ "Beautiful People - Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  14. ^ Axiom Funk's "If 6 Was 9" at Discogs
  15. ^ Rogers, Kalen (1994). Tori Amos: All These Years. Omnibus Press. p. 81. ISBN 0-7119-4827-5. 
  16. ^ Tori Amos' "If 6 Was 9" at Discogs
  17. ^ Carlson, James G. (July 6, 2012). "Review: "Painkillers" by Left Lane Cruiser & James Leg". No Depression. 

References[edit]

  • Shapiro, Harry; Caesar Glebbeek (1995). Jimi Hendrix, Electric Gypsy. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-13062-7. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Kubernik, Harvey (2006). Hollywood Shack Job: Rock Music in Film and on Your Screen. University of New Mexico Press. ISBN 0-8263-3542-X. 
  • Roby, Steven (2002). Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix. Billboard Books. ISBN 0-8230-7854-X. 
  • Shadwick, Keith (2003). Jimi Hendrix: Musician. Backbeat Books. ISBN 0-87930-764-1. 
  • Stubbs, David (2003). Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child: The Stories Behind Every Song. Thunder's Mouth Press. ISBN 1-56025-537-4.