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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 033
Thurs, Feb 28, 2013

“The Wind Cries Mary”
Jimi Hendrix

1967

“♫ And
the wind
whispers,
“Mary”
♫”

When one thinks of the most beautiful Jimi Hendrix songs, a couple comes to mind. The first is the classic blues treasure, “Little Wing;” the next is his posthumous swan song “Angel” but I believe it’s this lovely little love song; “The Wind Cries Mary” is the cut that should hold that crown. Experience bassist Billy Cox claimed “Mary” was inspired by Superfly as he once explained, when he said, ““The Wind Cries Mary” was a riff that was influenced by Curtis Mayfield, who was a big influence for Jimi.

In reality, the bluesy riff was inspired by an argument with his live in girlfriend Kathy Etchingham. It is often thought the lyric of “The Wind Cries” was inspired by Bob Dylan, the same singer/songwriting mentor who gave Hendrix the courage to sing, Hendrix actually composed this as a gift of repentance to Kathy as David Stubbs explained in Jimi Hendrix: The Stories Behind The Songs, when he wrote, “While Hendrix was too proud to apologize for regarding Kathy as a terrible [cook], recalled Etchingham, he did present to her the lyric of this song. “Mary” was Etchingham’s middle name. The line about “happiness staggering on down the street” and the broom sweeping up broken pieces of yesterday’s life clearly referred to her abrupt departure and the aftermath of broken crockery. Hendrix managed to wreak from this almost comical dispute a honeyed, soulful hymn of penitence.”

“The Wind Cries Mary” reminds me of those days my buddies and me would skip school and sit in the car, lighting herbal cigs while listening to Jimi Hendrix cassettes watching the clouds off a South Texas highway. I always pictures, sand, beaches, roads and waves of a peaceful experience. Did you know “The Wind Cries Mary” was Jimi Hendrix’s third single, and originally appeared as a b-side to “Purple Haze?” But “Mary” was too beautiful to be discarded on the flip side single. “The Wind Cries” was an import song in Hendrix’s canon. “Mary” showed that Jimi wasn’t just about creating symphonies with his feedback. There was some soulful blues in Hendrix’s lyrical arsenal.

The most amazing fact about “The Wind Cries” is that Jimi and The Experience came up with “Mary” and tracked the whole song during the last few minutes of a Are You Experienced studio session as manager Chas Chandler discussed in John McDermott’s Ultimate Hendrix, when he said, ““The Wind Cries Mary” was recorded at the tail end of the session for “Fire.” We had about twenty minutes or so left. I suggested that we cut a demo of “The Wind Cries Mary.” Mitch [Mitchell] and Noel [Redding] hadn’t heard it, so they were going at it without a rehearsal. They played it once and I remember Jimi came in saying “I have another idea for an overdub.” The whole thing was done in twenty minutes. That was our third single.”

Twenty minutes was all it took Jimi Hendrix and his Experience to create “The Wind Cries Mary.” Incredible and genius are two words that come to mind. If you listen to this majestic ballad it sounds so effortless and like the lyrics are coming from the breeze. It may have been inspired by Jimi’s live in muse but “The Wind Cries Mary” was an extraordinary feat to come up with an arrangement at the end of the session and track the final version in twenty minutes is simply extraordinary. Often thought of as ode to lady Mary Jane, it’s time for you to experience by inhaling the beauty that is “The Wind Cries Mary.”

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