In 1967, Jimi Hendrix released “Manic Depression.” Three years later, I was born. So, I don’t remember if this song made an impact on American society. However, as someone who started listening to Hendrix a few years ago, this song has made an impact on me. “Manic Depression is ugly times music,” Hendrix once quipped. “It’s so ugly you can feel it.”
The song is full of cacophonic chords and dysfunctional drumming. It reminds me of “trash art,” the kind of art that is made out of the scrap metal from a ’74 Pinto found 30 years later in a junkyard. Apart, the pieces are still ugly; together, they somehow strive (and almost get there) for artistic value. I don’t know if Hendrix meant for this kind of analogy to be drawn about this song or any of his other works, but that is what it feels like to me.
In the song, Jimi says, “Manic-depression’s a frustrating mess.” Yes, it is, Jimi, yes it is. Your song may not convey the ups and downs of what is today called “bipolar disorder” (a rather sterile, scientific term, if you ask me), but your song is a “frustrating mess”, and that’s why I like it.
If you’ve never checked out any of Jimi Hendrix’s music, I would highly recommend “Experience Hendrix: The Best of Jimi Hendrix”. He may not have led the cleanest life, but then his music is unclean, raw, and, at times, distasteful. I don’t think Mr. Hendrix cared whether or not his music left a pleasant aftertaste on anyone’s palate, however.
As for me, I can vouch for the validity of Jimi’s statement. Cognitive, mood and behavioral disorders (including schizophrenia and manic-depression) are extremely frustrating. I’ll save that topic for another post. Suffice it to say, I’ve got things I want to do, things I want to be accomplishing, and almost every time I try to do something (especially gainful employment), I fail. Like a computer virus attacking “The Great Firewall of China”, I can’t seem to break into that system. Like I said, more on that later.
For now, just know that I am doing well, that I am thoroughly enjoying the summer, and that until further notice…if you keep reading, I’ll keep writing.
PS For a decent recording of “Manic Depression” by Jimi Hendrix, visit this website:
Although I could not find a video recording of this song, a well-done slideshow accompanies this particular version of the song.