Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 233
Wed Oct. 09, 2013
“Foxy Lady [alternate take at the BBC] & (Live at the Isle of Wight)”
all mine ♫”
“Foxy Lady” is the answer to the Hendrix trivia question, what was the only “happy song” Jimi ever wrote? Before the release of his first album, in an interview with Record Mirror, the guitar genius once claimed this as when talked about his prolific songwriting regimen when Jimi explained, “Up to now, I’ve written about 100 songs, but most of them are in those New York hotels I got thrown out of. When I go back I’m going to collect them from those hotel rooms where I missed the rent. I can’t write any happy songs, [“Foxy Lady”] was about the only happy song I’ve written. [I] don’t feel very happy when I start writing…”
Although, the original version was featured on his first album The Jimi Hendrix Experience, my two favorite renditions bookend Jimi’s music career. These are two very different versions of “Foxy Lady” that capture Hendrix’s creative mindset at the time of their live recordings. The first is from the BBC Sessions CD, recorded live on February 13, 1967. You can feel the turned on elation in Hendrix’s voice on the song that in his book Jimi Hendrix: The Stories Behind Every Song, author David Stubbs once dubbed “a dirty salvo of carnal joy.” Listen to the enthusiastic electricity in the way Hendrix’s solo’s come alive in this BBC session. My favorite part of this rendition is the way Jimi flubs the opening lyrics; Hendrix must have had a craving from a tasty cunning treat because instead of using the word “cute,” he repeated the word “sweet” when he sang “♫ you know you’re a sweet little heartbreaker♫”. He amends the words and you can actually catch him grinning at his Freudian like lyrical slip.
The second version of “Foxy Lay” was Jimi’s last ever show from The Isle of Wight concert on August 30 1970, almost three weeks before Hendrix’s death on September 18, 1970. You can hear the annoyance with the crowd wanting to hear only the most popular songs from Jimi’s song canon. Hendrix’s sounds agitated after the audience starts yelling out requests, before starting the opening chords to “Foxy Lady” an irritated Jimi tells them, “You all wanna hear all those little songs, man? Damn man, we was trying to get some other things together. I just woke up about two minutes ago… I think we’ll play, play something a little more familiar. ‘Cause I ain’t came yet myself, I don’t know about you, but I ain’t came, you know. There, 1 came, thank you very much, good night!”
This frustration Hendrix felt fueled his performance of “Foxy Lady.” As Jimi starts to unleash his anger through his favorite guitar, as he begins his trademark theatrics as not only does Jimi plays the guitar between his legs but Hendrix astonishing the audience when he plays the chords through his teeth. Because of some mix up with radio interference coming out of his amplifier, this is part of the Isle of Wight version when “Foxy Lady” starts to go awry when his axe starts to go out.
But luckily bassist Billy Cox saves the performance by carrying the Experience with his ferocious bass licks until Jimi could get his guitar fixed. It’s amazing because most bands would just stop playing if something happened to their leader on stage; but not drummer Mitch Mitchell or bassist Cox; it was surprisingly Billy was on stage with Hendrix at all. Apparently Billy was suffering through a serious breakdown. According to Classic Rock Magazine’s Scott Rowley, “someone spiked and the drug-free bass player experienced a nightmarish bad trip that, combined with the stress of a busy schedule, over the next few days put him close to a nervous breakdown.”
But Cox overcame his anxieties and was the star of one Jimi Hendrix’s last ever performances captured live on Blue Wild Angel: Jimi Hendrix Live At The Isle of Wight. By the end of the performance, thanks to Cox, Hendrix found some sense of humor telling the crowd after playing “Foxy Lady” his last show, “This song [was] dedicated to all the girls who get laid. And, em, all the girls back there with those little yellow, orange, pink and turquoise panties that they keep throwing on the stage. It’s close to Mother’s Day anybody that wanna be a mother, come backstage.”
Two different performances of “Foxy Lady,” one reflected a younger more enthusiastically energized Hendrix from the BBC Sessions and the later mirrored the tired geniuses frustration of having to play the same electric pop songs over and over again from his last ever performance recorded for posterity on Blue Wild Angel: Jimi Hendrix Live At The Isle of Wight. But through these two different versions of “Foxy Lady” captures the true sides of this American guitar genius.
You can feel the excitement on the BBC version and the venomous aggravation from the Isle of Wight show. Jimi claimed that “Foxy Lady” was the only happy song he ever wrote and you can hear the pride on the BBC version but on Blue Wild Angel, ironically, you feel anything but joy from this dynamic performance. From these two live versions, you hear the good, bad and the beastly side of “Foxy Lady” and either way, thanks to Jimi Hendrix, the experience of the way he brings this classic vixen to life on both fronts, she sounds equally as ravishing to me.