Week 50: “Little Wing” by Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix will probably always be remembered as a guitar god. Which is fine, but I think that his skills as a songwriter are often overlooked. For someone who was probably high more often than not, he put together some great songs that combine great storytelling with the best elements of blues and rock.

Many guitarists from the “progressive rock” era tried to be too epic for their own good; but in just over two minutes, this tiny little song accomplishes what cheezier ballads can’t do in eight.

What makes this a beautiful song:

1. Glockenspiel. These days, any band that uses the glockenspiel is either from Montreal, wears vintage t-shirts, or has a name with too much punctuation in it. But Jimi was doing it before anyone knew what Ray Bans were.

2. Hippie lyrics guaranteed to make you smile. “Butterflies and zebras and moonbeams and a fairy tale.” It’s enough to make you want to buy a VW van and drive to San Francisco.

3. Guitar as only Hendrix can play it. Some people go nuts for the opening bars of “Stairway to Heaven”, but as far as I’m concerned, the guitar part that opens this song is more honest and heartfelt. And he played it while balancing a 35-pound afro on his head.

Recommended listening activity:

Using crayons to draw the view from your bedroom window.

Buy it here.