Jimi Hendrx album cover

Imagine waking from your own funky dream world right into another's--or, exactly how nice is it is to wake up with a Jimi Hendrix song playing in your head?
  Very nice, indeed.

  Especially when it's a relative obscurity from the magnificently surrealistic epic Electric Ladyland, which I've spent quite a bit of time rediscovering this summer as part of my parole.

  Ah, I know what you're thinking, stupid hippie: Obscure Electric Ladyland song? Ain't no such thing, m-a-n. I've tripped 457 times to Electric Ladyland and there are no obscure songs. Dude, duke up your puts, I mean, put up your dukes. Ain't no obscure songs on Ladyland!

  Calm down, Comfest crud. You and I are on the same side. But if you'll gimme a minute, I'll explain.

  Think Electric Ladyland and right away you revisit Jimi's towering five-part-genius-guitar-solo from his Cherokee-eternal-spirit-world version of Dylan's All Along the Watchtower, a song which I think is not inarguable Jimi's touch made immortal. Or the Mongolian Horde guitar attack of Voodoo Chile or the sensual psychedelia of ...And The Gods Made Love or Crosstown Traffic's go-go girl hip shake (You're just like...).

  One could go on...and on. Electric Ladyland is an indubitable masterpiece. And I love it madly, indubitably, the whole and its individual parts--indisputably indubitably and unconditionally.

  I'll bet even if i told you the name you'd be hard-pressed to locate it in your mental jukebox--and not because you just did six months in county for getting caught transporting windowpane on a Greyhound. So is it a bad song, or heaven forbid, filler? Hell no. For one thing and upon this we can agree, Jimi Hendrix never put out a bad song. Hell, no. Arguably Third Stone From the Sun off of Are You Experienced? just maybe might could be that, Hendrix filler is head-and-shoulders above most bands' best. David Lee Roth even once said so.

  OK, to make my long-suffering editor's life easier, here it is finally, f'chrissakes. (Cue the late great Mitch Mitchell drum roll, puh-lease...)

  It's the album's sixth track, Long Hot Summer Night, sandwiched between Noel Redding's stab at English pop, Little Miss Strange, and Jimi's ferociously scorching version of New Orelan's bluesman Earl King's Come On (Part 1). It's a not insignificant little soul-ish Jimi ditty yet easily overlooked. It got under my brain pan covering because of three things.

First, the unaccompanied guitar intro--...dow-dow-dow-dow DOW DOW dow-dow DOW (repeat). On the surface it's perhaps the least memorable Hendrix guitar intro ever. Yet now, thanks to it invading my consciousness it turns out to indelibly underrated. Hendrix up to that point had played how many straight soul tunes? Zero by my reckoning. Of course by the second verse he's adding wickedly sweet and sly little leads, falsetto backing vocals and soon the whole thing amps up his lusty male calling for his woman on a dripping hot summer evening. And while Jimi was a known sex fiend and apparently the highest karat gold-standard in the love-making department since Muddy Waters tied with Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder, this song ain't about that, ya pigs. It's about desperation.

  Second, it's so goddamn loose, like a female Puerto Rican limbo dancer. The thing flows with the funk of the Mississippi, bending, flowing and increasing in power without sacrificing its soul-funkiness and I do believe there is the intensifier of a key change. Oh, Jimi, you were so good at producing yourself. Two or three days in a row I woke up with Long Hot Summer Night playing in my head. And it's actually been a mostly cold summer. Point/counterpoint--we'll get back to that.

  Thirdly, when I finally paid attention to the lyrics I realized Jimi was once again describing his emotional desperation which apparently no woman could ever or ever did assuage. Plus, bi-polar maybe? Putting winter and extremes of temperature of the heart in a song about a summer night? That's the theme, not quite traditional warm soul. But of course Jimi was no traditionalist. He knew every black music tradition there was but his genius was in creating a new frontier with proven tools.

  The use of opposites is brilliant, making this much more than just some nifty little song. Like when The Sopranos ran Van Morrison's Glad Tidings in the scenes up to and including Steve Buscemi's murder at the hands of Tony Soprano, the music's bright irresistibly infectious melody made for the perfect upbeat mood in complete contrast to the grisly ambush shotgunning of a cousin named Tony by a cousin named Tony. The great Bernard Herrmann film composer frequently used counterpoint and admitted in an interview he didn't know why it worked but it worked.

   It sure was a long long long hot summer night

  as far as my eyes could see

  Well my heart was way way down

  in a cold, cold winter storm

  Well my darling where can you be

  The despair has only begun. Jimi throws this in this clue about the cage housing his heart, almost as a feint because it's made of.

  three sugar walls and two candy cane windows

 Which start to "melt" because the scene inside his emotional being is so “serious.” The phone rings, it's his baby, and his 'voice is shaky' and he even admits to stuttering. Confessional? Damn straight. But in Jimi's case it was life or death and as he sings about his baby making her way across the border to him, he fades out hoping to the last she'll

  Rescue who? rescue me

  rescue who? rescue me
  Of course we should've known no man could play the blues that intensely or make us feel the moods, colors, passions and “manic depressions” Jimi did unless he was really being for real. Yes, as unreal as Jimi was, he was real. Strange how it took a musically uptempo song for me to realize how deeply he was communicating his pain. Strange how a musician can fool you.
  Still, it's a helluva funky guitar intro, which my mind involuntarily sometimes keeps coming back to. And the question remains...
  Where were YOU on that hot cold summer

  where were YOU on that hot cold summer

  Where were you on that hot cold summer night?