It's Too Bad

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"It's Too Bad"
Song by Jimi Hendrix from the album The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Released 2000
Recorded February 11, 1969 Record Plant Studios
Genre jazz rock, blues rock
Length 8:52
Label MCA
Writer Jimi Hendrix
Producer Jimi Hendrix
Music video
"It's Too Bad - Jimi Hendrix" on YouTube

It's Too Bad is a jazz-blues-influenced song written by Jimi Hendrix in 1969. Recorded by Hendrix that same year with American rock and funk musician Buddy Miles on drums and Grammy Award-winner Duane Hitchings on organ, the song was released a little more than thirty years later on the box set The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

History[edit]

American musician, singer and songwriter Jimi Hendrix

In 1969, Jimi Hendrix's half-brother Leon Hendrix was suffering from a drug addiction and other problems.[1] After Leon approached his successful half-brother Jimi and asked him for money, Hendrix wrote It's Too Bad.[2] On Tuesday, February 11, 1969,[3] Hendrix was at Record Plant Studios in New York City producing the song I Can See for his friends in the Buddy Miles Express band at a recording session that went from 12:00 am to 4:00 am.[4] With musician Buddy Miles on drums and Duane Hitchings on organ,[4][5][6] the Buddy Miles Express band recorded I Can See (later retiled Destructive Love) as Hendrix operated the mixing console.[4] After the song was recorded, Hendrix came from behind the control room console to play guitar for two impromptu originals, World Traveler, a guitar-and-organ duel between Hendrix and Hitchings, and It's Too Bad.[4] Both songs were recorded in one take.[4] Hitchings remarked about his experience in recording with Hendrix, noting in 2010: "Jamming with him was an amazing experience. I was scared to death!".[6]

Interpretation[edit]

In the 1969 song track, Hendrix plays the role of both himself and his brother Leon.[2] Backed by modern day blues, the song begins with "It's too bad, Lord, my brother can't be here today", to explore Hendrix's uneasy relationship with Leon,[5] a theme that Hendrix also explored in his 1969 song, Shame, Shame, Shame.[7] In "It's Too Bad", the song notes how Hendrix sent Leon "a-crying away",[5] and goes on to addresses Hendrix's uneasy relationship with other African-Americans, noting: "So I'll go way across the tracks...And man they treat me the same way as you do...[They] say man until you come back, completely black, go back where you came from too".[5] Music reviews attributed the uneasy community connection expressed in the song to 1960s-1970s African-Americans' objection to Hendrix's "colorblind vision" by accusing Hendrix of "achieving stardom by pandering to rock's largely white audience".[5][8] The song also makes reference to Hendrix's 1968 song Room Full of Mirrors, which refers to a cracked mirror metaphor Hendrix used to convey the many sides of his emotions.[9]

Hendrix Estate[edit]

After Hendrix died without a will in 1970, his father Al received the rights to Hendrix's estate, including It's Too Bad.[10] A little more than thirty years after the song was recorded, it was one four Hendrix songs newly discovered and added to The Jimi Hendrix Experience, a four disc box set.[11] In reviewing the song on The Jimi Hendrix Experience (2000), producer and audio engineer Eddie Kramer noted about the tune:[2] "I think it's very clever, and very, very emotionally charged. It has a tremendous wallop".[2] Two years later, Hendrix's father died and Leon sued their father's estate and Hendrix's stepsister Janie to gain control over about one quarter of US$80 million.[10] After Washington Superior Court judge Jeffrey M. Ramsdell limited Leon's claim to a single gold record left to him when his father died in 2002, Janie remarked in 2004 about the lawsuit: "Jimi wrote a song about Leon and it was called, 'It's Too Bad'. The lyrics to that song are what this is all about".[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gene Stout (August 16, 2002), "Leon Hendrix Wants A Bigger Share Of Estate Brother Of Famed Guitarist Jimi Says He Was Denied His Rightful Inheritance And Will Sue", Seattle Post-Intelligencer, sec. News, p. B1, retrieved January 26, 2013 
  2. ^ a b c d Dean Goodman (September 8, 2000), "Hendrix emerges from Haze with boxed set", Reuters, retrieved January 26, 2013 
  3. ^ Gary Geldeart, Steve Rodham (2008), Jimi Hendrix - from the Benjamin Franklin Studios 3rd Edition Part 1: The Complete Guide to the Recorded Work of Jimi Hendrix (3 ed.), Jimpress, p. 123, ISBN 0952768658, retrieved January 26, 2013 
  4. ^ a b c d e John McDermott, Eddie Kramer, Billy Cox (2009), Ultimate Hendrix: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Live Concerts and Sessions, Hal Leonard Corporation, p. 140, ISBN 0879309385, retrieved January 26, 2013 
  5. ^ a b c d e Larry Katz (September 12, 2000), "Music; Experiencing Jimi; New four-CD set of breathtaking Hendrix leftovers enhances guitarist's legend", Boston Herald, sec. Arts & Lifestyle, p. 37, retrieved January 26, 2013 
  6. ^ a b "A Country Writer's Rock Roots - Duane Hitchings", Yamaha Corporation, 2010, retrieved January 26, 2013 
  7. ^ Melissa Block (November 22, 2010), "Unreleased Material From Jimi Hendrix Reflects A Life Of Music And Money Woes", NPR All Things Considered, retrieved January 26, 2013, "It's a shame, shame, shame, shame, shame that my brother can't be with me today./Well, the last time, the last time that I seen him, he asked me for help, and I turned him right away./He asked me for help, and I turned him away." 
  8. ^ Letta Tayler (September 15, 2000), "Under His Influence - Thirty years after his death, Jimi Hendrix is still teaching wannabe guitar gods how to be players", Newsday, sec. Fanfare, p. D18, retrieved January 26, 2013 
  9. ^ Matthew Greenwald (2013), "Jimi Hendrix Room Full of Mirrors", Room Full of Mirrors - Jimi Hendrix, Listen, Appearances, Song Review, AllMusic (Allmusic), retrieved January 26, 2013 
  10. ^ a b c Brian Alexander (September 25, 2004), "Judge Settles Long Family Feud Over Jimi Hendrix's Estate", New York Times, sec. A, p. A10, retrieved January 26, 2013 
  11. ^ Patrick MacDonald (August 18, 2000), "Rocknotes", Seattle Times, sec. Ticket, p. H14, retrieved January 26, 2013 

External links[edit]