Machine Gun (Jimi Hendrix Song) - Origins

Origins

"Machine Gun" debuted in September 1969 with a performance by Hendrix and his bandmates at that time, drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Billy Cox. The song was broadcast on the Dick Cavett Show the week of September 5. Most known performances are between ten and twenty minutes long, varying somewhat in their lyrics. The improvisatory material revolves around a core descending riff and bassline: the song opens with a Univibe pedal-based guitar riff intended to mimic the sound of a firing machine gun. The bass and drum patterns then commence. The rather sparse lyrics, which differ in every performance, relate the point of view of a soldier fighting in war:

Machine gun
Tearin' my body all apart
Evil man make me kill you
Evil man make you kill me
Evil man make me kill you
Even though we're only families apart
Well, I pick up my axe and fight like a farmer
But your bullets still knock me down to the ground

The same way you shoot me down, baby
You'll be goin' just the same
Three times the pain
And your own self to blame

I ain't afraid of your bullets no more, baby
I ain't afraid no more
After a while your cheap talk don't even cause me pain
So let your bullets fly like rain
'Cause I know all the time you wrong, baby
And you'll be going just the same

In the Band of Gypsys recording, Hendrix's vocals are accompanied by drummer Buddy Miles's vocals. "Machine Gun" is a prime example of Hendrix's use of guitar effects, as most recordings use a wah-wah pedal, an Arbiter Fuzz Face, a Univibe pedal, and an Octavia pedal, as well as heavy feedback.

The intro to "Hear My Train A Comin'" at Jimi's Woodstock performance in August 1969 is reminiscent of the "Machine Gun" intro, once again using the Univibe pedal. He used similar vocal lines and riffs in a blues jam mainly beginning at the 12th fret, much like the "Machine Gun" intro.

The song was performed twice on Hendrix's Live at the Fillmore East album. The first performance was featured in the "Goy's teeth" sequence of the Coen Brothers' 2009 film A Serious Man.

Read more about this topic:  Machine Gun (Jimi Hendrix Song)

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