Spanish Castle Magic
|"Spanish Castle Magic"|
|Song by The Jimi Hendrix Experience from the album Axis: Bold as Love|
|Released||December 1, 1967 (UK)|
|Recorded||Olympic Studios, London, October 27 & 28, 1967|
|Label||Track (613 003)|
|Axis: Bold as Love track listing|
"Spanish Castle Magic" is a song by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Written by Jimi Hendrix and produced by Chas Chandler, it is the third track from their second studio album Axis: Bold as Love. The lyrics refer to a club outside of Seattle, where Hendrix sometimes played with his first bands. The song was a staple on their live shows and several live recordings have been released on posthumous albums.
The lyrics were inspired by Hendrix's high school years (roughly 1958-1961), when he regularly visited a roadhouse called "The Spanish Castle". The club was south of Seattle in what was then unincorporated King County (now Des Moines). It was built in the 1930s outside Seattle to avoid the city's restrictive nightclub laws at the time. By 1959, it began featuring top local rock groups such as The Fabulous Wailers and occasional touring stars. Events there were hosted by Pat O'Day, Seattle's best known disc jockey at the time.
Hendrix performed at the Spanish Castle on several occasions. He later described his frustration getting to the club: "[The bass player] in the band had this beat-up car, and it would break down every other block, on the way there and back".[this quote needs a citation] This is referenced in the line "Takes 'bout a half a day to get there". The Spanish Castle was demolished in April 1968. According to rock critic Dave Marsh, "Once you know the legend of the Wailers at the Castle and the facts of Jimi’s attendance there, the lyrics of his 'Spanish Castle Magic' seem haunted by homesick nostalgia: 'It’s very far away, it takes about half a day to get there if we travel by my...uh...dragonfly,' he sings, in the voice of a kid stranded a couple continents from home".[this quote needs a citation]
The song features Noel Redding playing an eight-string Hagstrom bass routed through an Octavia effects unit, which Hendrix later overdubbed using the same bass. Hendrix also overdubbed some jazz chords on piano, which he had heard sound engineer Eddie Kramer playing. Hendrix biographer Harry Shapiro commented on the song's instrumentation: "[The] guitar and bass in unison has the immediate effect of locking up a song in a strong rhythmic voice ... [Hendrix uses] some unusual chord progressions and a large number of bend in the solo ending up with a crazy double-stop." AllMusic's Matthew Greenwald calls the progression "proto-heavy metal" and compares it to the earlier Experience song, "Foxy Lady".
"Spanish Castle Magic" is one of the few songs from Axis: Bold as Love that Hendrix regularly performed in concert. Live recordings of the song are found on BBC Sessions, Live at the Oakland Coliseum, Stages, Live in Ottawa, Live at Woodstock, Blue Wild Angel: Live at the Isle of Wight, Winterland, and The Jimi Hendrix Experience box set.
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- Greenwald, Matthew. "Jimi Hendrix/The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Spanish Castle Magic". AllMusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
- McDermott, John; Kramer, Eddie; Cox, Billy (2009). Ultimate Hendrix. Backbeat Books. pp. 73–74. ISBN 0-87930-938-5.
- Shapiro, Harry; Glebbeek, Cesar (1990). Jimi Hendrix: Electric Gypsy. St. Martin's Press. p. 223. ISBN 0-312-05861-6.
- Shadwick, Keith (2003). Jimi Hendrix: Musician. Backbeat Books. p. 129. ISBN 0-87930-764-1.
- "Jimi Hendrix: Spanish Castle Magic – Appears On". AllMusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved August 20, 2014.