Jimi Hendrix was an American guitarist, singer and songwriter whose guitar playing was influential on rock music. After initial success in Europe, he achieved fame in the USA following his 1967 performance at the Monterey Pop Festival. Later, Hendrix headlined the iconic 1969 Woodstock Festival.
Hendrix often favored raw overdriven amplifiers with high gain and treble and helped develop the previously undesirable technique of guitar feedback. Hendrix, along with bands such as Cream was one of the musicians who popularized the wah-wah pedal in mainstream rock which he often used to deliver an exaggerated pitch in his solos, particularly with high bends and use of legato based around the pentatonic scale. He was influenced by blues artists such as B. B. King, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Albert King, and Elmore James, rhythm and blues and soul guitarists Curtis Mayfield, Steve Cropper, as well as by some modern jazz. In 1966, Hendrix, who played and recorded with Little Richard’s band from 1964 to 1965, was quoted as saying, “I want to do with my guitar what Little Richard does with his voice.”
Carlos Santana has suggested that Hendrix’ music may have been influenced by his Native American heritage. As a record producer, Hendrix also broke new ground in using the recording studio as an extension of his musical ideas. He was one of the first to experiment with stereophonic and phasing effects for rock recording.
Hendrix won many of the most prestigious rock music awards in his lifetime, and has been posthumously awarded many more, including being inducted into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. An English Heritage “Blue plaque” was erected in his name on his former residence at Brook Street, London, in September 1997. A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (at 6627 Hollywood Blvd.) was dedicated in 1994. In 2006, his debut US album, Are You Experienced, was inducted into the United States National Recording Registry, and Rolling Stone named Hendrix the top guitarist on its list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time in 2003.
Castles Made of Sand
The song is a melancholy meditation on thwarted plans. The first verse features a loving relationship reduced to conflict and social disgrace; the second verse recounts the death of a native American Indian boy who dreams of glory in battle, but is eventually killed in his sleep. The third verse presents a disabled girl who prepares for suicide, only to see a “golden winged ship passing my way”, which causes her to jump excitedly in her wheelchair. However: “it really didn’t have to stop – it just kept on goin’”. Each verse is followed by the chorus, which consists of slight variations on the line, “…and so castles made of sand fall in the sea, eventually…”.
The song is known for its intricate guitar solo, which is heard on the record played backwards.
A common interpretation of the lyric centres on the chorus and its metaphor of universal transience — “Castles made of sand fall in the sea eventually” — illustrated by specific cases in the verses, which suggest that not only love and ambition but also disease and fear, will fade and vanish.
Leon Hendrix, the younger brother of Jimi, has said that Jimi revealed privately to him that the song was about their family.Â The first verse is their mother leaving their father Al for the final time. The second verse is referencing his Native American heritage and the stories his grandmother (a quarter Cherokee)Â would tell him. The boy who played “war games in the woods with his Indian friends” is said to be Leon (as stated by himself), but could also be about Jimi. The third verse, by this account, channels Jimi’s memories of his mother Lucille in hospital suffering from liver disease, and wishing to die so she would suffer no more: “to her legs she smiled you won’t hurt me no more.” Lucille did have cirrhosis of the liver, but was recovering outside of Hospital, when she was admitted unconscious to hospital, where she died from a ruptured spleen caused by a blow from an unknown source, not a liver complaint as is often stated, although this was listed as a contributing factor on her death certificate. The song “Little Wing” is also about his mother Lucille, according to Leon, although in interviews he gave an alternate interpretation, most likely so he would not have to recount painful memories (it is widely known that Jimi didn’t like to recollect on his past to the public) Jimi himself said the song was about the Monterey Pop Festival personified as a girl.
Locals from the Moroccan town Diabat have claimed that the song title was inspired by the Bordj El Berod-watchtower ruin. This statement however is not likely to be true as Jimi stayed in Morocco in 1969 (Castles Made Of Sand was written in 1967).
Down the street you can hear her scream “you’re a disgrace”
As she slams the door in his drunken face,
And now he stands outside and all the neighbours start to gossip and drool.
He cries “Oh girl, you must be mad,
What happened to the sweet love you and me had?”
Against the door he leans and starts a scene,
And his tears fall and burn the garden green.
And so castles made of sand, fall in the sea, eventually.
A little Indian brave who before he was ten, played war games in
the woods with his Indian friends, and he built a dream that when he
grew up, he would be a fearless warrior Indian Chief.
Many moons passed and more the dream grew strong, until tomorrow
He would sing his first war song,
And fight his first battle, but something went wrong,
Suprise attack killed him in his sleep that night
And so castles made of sand, melts into the sea eventually.
There was a young girl, whose heart was a frown,
Because she was crippled for life, and couldn’t speak a sound
And she wished and prayed she would stop living, so she decided to die.
She drew her wheel chair to the edge of the shore, and to her legs she smiled
“You won’t hurt me no more.”
But then a sight she’d never seen made her JUMP AND SAY
“Look, a golden winged ship is passing my way”
And it really didn’t have to stop…it just kept on going.
And so castles made of sand slips into the sea,
- Audio from the 2010 album, Experience Hendrix: The Best of Jimi Hendrix: