Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 262
Thurs. Dec 5, 2013

“Hear My Train A Comin [Live 1968 Miami Pop Festival]”
Jimi Hendrix Experience


“♫ Tears
falling down
like rain

You may have heard there’s a new Jimi Hendrix re-release for his 1968 performance at the Miami Pop Festival. Like Woodstock, Hendrix played during the day. It was a short set due to the humid and rainy southern weather but Jimi did play a very memorably electrifying version of “Hear My Train A Comin.” This song is not only one of Hendrix’s most personal to Jimi because as he once said, “I care so much about my work. I record stuff I believe is great.” “Hear My” is one of Hendrix’s greatest songs and is one of my personal lyrical touchstones that for over forty years has kept me from giving up my creative dreams by waiting at the station for my own train to arrive.

I know Hendrix purists will argue that Jimi’s version from Berkeley is the essential version of this blues classic but there’s something about this Miami Pop Festival version that brings out the best of Hendrix. Jimi never plays the same song the same way twice. So you could have twelve different life versions of “Train” and they would all have subtle differences whether it be with the chord changes, the solo or specifically for this 1968 rendition at the Miami Pop Festival, Jimi must have been inspired by the stormy weather because he added some rain to his classic lyrics to “Hear My Train A Comin’.”

In the new book, Starting at Zero: Jimi Hendrix: His Own Story, Seattle’s most famous guitarist said, “There are basically two different kinds of music. The blues is a reflection of life, and then there is sunshine music, which may not have so much to say lyrically but has more meaning musically.” Hendrix’s 1968 version of “Train” perfectly blends both of Jimi’s ideals by combining the best of blues and the sunshine during this historic performance in the daylight at the Miami Pop Festival. In Starting at Zero, Hendrix went on to say, “I really don’t want to get too heavy. I want to play sunshine music now. I have this saying when things get too heavy, “Just call me helium, the lightest known gas the man.”

The genesis of “Hear My Train A Comin’” comes from Hendrix’s personal sound of the blues. In his book, Jimi Hendrix: Stories Behind Every Song, author David Stubbs called “Train,” “Along with “Red House,” this was Hendrix’s greatest-home baked blues offering.” When asked by Jay Ruby how he defines the blues, Hendrix replied, “You can have your own blues. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the folk blues is the only type of blues in the world. We do this blues one […] That’s what you call a great feeling of blues. We don’t try to give it a name. Everybody has some kind of blues to offer, you know?

In his book, Jimi Hendrix: Stories Behind Every Song, author Stubbs described, Jimi’s home-baked blues of “Hear My Train” as—“Hendrix’s homage to his own sense of destiny.” Hendrix himself once explained “Comin’” as an introduction before playing his blues song live when Jimi said, “It’s about a cat running around town and his old lady, she don’t want him around and a whole lot of people from across the tracks are putting him down. And nobody don’t want to face up to it but the cat has something, only everybody’s against him ‘cause the cat might because the cat might be a bit different. So he goes on the road to be a voodoo child, come back to be a magic boy.”

If there was one song that I always connected to the most, it has to be “Hear My Train A Comin’.” I love the image of Hendrix waiting for his metaphorical train that only he can hear. Jimi knows that it’s coming but no one believes him. No one can see the talent and the gift that Jimi has inside of him. I know I’m no Hendrix but all my life I’ve looked to Jimi and his self-belief and sense of eternal perseverance as a guide to emulate in my own creative life. I’ve always believed that there was something special inside of me, a creative gift, that no one else has seen or heard and even though I’m getting older I can feel my poetic voice growing, igniting stronger, the funny thing, is that my talent is at the beginning and is only starting to come to light. Thank You Jimi for helping me not to give up on my own train.

Why do I connect so much with Jimi Hendrix? It’s his own philosophy of creativity; it wasn’t just about fame it was all about his work and his songs as he said. “Music is my life. It’s about life and feelings, and you must take time for it like in any other occupation. There are certain moments where I feel like I’ve got to write, especially before I go to sleep, when all the thoughts are running through my head. My guitar is my medium and I want everybody to get into it, I want to turn the world on.”

As my life is evolving this week, I’m ready for the next ride on this journey called my creative life. Throughout my long and strange trip Jimi Hendrix’s music and specifically “Here My Train A Comin’” have been my guide to keep me writing and pursuing my dreams even when I’ve been rejected, at my lowest, his rhythms have been the soundtrack to my internal fight.

More than just another song in his electric song canon, Hendrix producer and engineer Eddie Kramer called “Here My Train A Comin’” one of Jimi’s quintessential songs as he explained to Toronto’s Globe and Mirror, “It shows a complete at-oneness with his instrument. Jimi had a thought in his mind, and in a nanosecond it gets through his body, through his heart, through his arms, through the fingers, onto the guitar.”

I may not be able to play a lick of guitar but I understand all the emotions coming from Jimi’s axe and every riff, chord reflects sounds of revelation to me. Hendrix’s music and words are my inspirational light, like when Jimi told Melody Maker in 1969, “My own thing is in my head. I hear songs and if I don’t get them together nobody else will.” Jimi has always been there and will continue to guide me to this next station of my life and thanks to Hendrix’s music and specifically “Hear My Train a Comin” from Miami Pop Festival is the eternal soundtrack that is going to show me how to enjoy every moment of this ride called my creative life.
[click on link to experience Jimi Hendrix “Hear My Train A Comin'” Live at The Miami Pop Festival 1969]