Essay on Hendrix and Vietnam

1201 Words Jun 19th, 2006 5 Pages
The Relationship Between The Vietnam War And Music Of The U.S.A.

Case Study: Jimi Hendrix

This essay looks at musician Jimi Hendrix's musical reactions to the American involvement in the Vietnam War. This research has taken place as part of a larger piece of work examining the links between the Vietnam War and Music in the U.S.A.

US troops became officially involved in the war from 1965 and didn't withdraw until 1973 following the signing of the Paris Peace Accords. During this time 58,226 US troops were killed and 153,303 were wounded. Public opinion in the U.S. was split by the war; many saw it as a vital stand against communism whilst others saw it as an immoral political campaign. As the war dragged on and the numbers of
…show more content…
Whether or not Hendrix believed in the politics of the war he certainly sympathised strongly with the soldiers caught up in the violence. He displays this empathy within the songs ‘Machine Gun' and ‘Isabella,' both of which appear to demonstrate the pacifist within Hendrix.

‘Isabella' is a song about a soldier fighting in Vietnam but not wanting too; "I'm gonna fight this war against Nature, my Heart". The lyrics convey sympathy for the soldiers and don't condemn them but rather the inherent violence of war.

‘Machine Gun' is a jam-based song in which Hendrix uses a memorable Leslie-speaker based guitar riff to emulate the sound of a machine gun. As the lyrics below show Hendrix held a view shared by many Americans of the era that it was unfair that innocent men from both the US and Vietnam had been caught up in a war.
"Machine gun?Tearin' my body all apart,
Evil man make me kill you,
Evil man make you kill me,
Even though were only families apart.
Well, I pick up my axe and fight like a farmer,
You know what I mean?
Hey, and your bullets keep knockin' me down..."

Of all Hendrix's music perhaps the piece to become most synonymous with the Vietnam War is his rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" at the Woodstock music festival of 1969. Hendrix was the headlining act but ended up being rescheduled from Sunday night to early Monday morning by which point only around 30,000 of the original 500,000 audience members remained. That

Related Documents