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The closing track on Jimi Hendrix’s seminal album “Electric Ladyland” is “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” a briefer yet potent version of the extended “Voodoo Chile.” The distinctive guitar riff, renowned for its dynamic wah-wah pedal effect, has been immortalized as one of the greatest riffs in music history. It’s celebrated in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs, ranked at number 102.

This song encapsulates Jimi Hendrix’s masterful use of feedback and distortion effects, which create a powerful atmosphere. “Voodoo Child (Slight Return) is often considered one of the best album closers in rock history.


“Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” Lyrics

Well, I stand up next to a mountain
And I chop it down with the edge of my hand
Well, I stand up next to a mountain
And I chop it down with the edge of my hand
Well, I pick up all the pieces and make an island
Might even raise a little sand
Yeah

‘Cause I’m a voodoo child
Lord knows I’m a voodoo child, baby

I want to say one more last thing

I didn’t mean to take up all your sweet time
I’ll give it right back to you one of these days, hahaha
I said I didn’t mean to take up all your sweet time
I’ll give it right back one of these days
Oh yeah
If I don’t meet you no more in this world, then
I’ll meet you in the next one
And don’t be late
Don’t be late

‘Cause I’m a voodoo child, voodoo child
Lord knows I’m a voodoo child, baby

I’m a voodoo child, baby
I don’t take no for an answer
Question no
Lord knows I’m a voodoo child, baby

Jimi Hendrix – “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”

Songwriters: Jimi Hendrix


Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” Lyrics and Interpretation

The song “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” by Jimi Hendrix is renowned for its compelling lyrics and the powerful imagery they evoke. One of the key lines, “Well I stand up next to a mountain, and I chop it down with the edge of my hand,” is widely interpreted as a metaphor for Jimi Hendrix’s extraordinary ability to overcome obstacles and redefine the boundaries of his musical craft. This line symbolizes his unstoppable drive and self-assurance as a musician.

Various interpretations of the song have emerged over time. One perspective views it as a celebration of creative energies and the transcendence of the spirit over the physical realm, encapsulating the concept of a “hero-martyr” who, at the pinnacle of his life, passes on his energy to future generations. Another interpretation suggests that Jimi Hendrix, by referring to himself as a “voodoo child,” expresses his musical roots in Rock n’ Roll, blending his love for Chicago blues with science fiction elements.

Charles Shaar Murray, a music writer, delves into the term “Voodoo Child” in his book “Crosstown Traffic.” He views Hendrix’s use of the term as purely metaphorical, highlighting the presence of voodoo symbolism in country blues and its urbanized electric variant from the Chicago school. This reference signifies Jimi Hendrix’s deep respect and understanding of the blues’ most profound traditions.

Additionally, Jimi Hendrix’s association with the song went beyond mere lyrics. During a January 1, 1970 performance with the Band of Gypsys, he introduced the song as the “Black Panthers’ national anthem,” as noted in the album “Live at the Fillmore East.” This comment came when Jimi Hendrix was pressured to address racial issues in the United States.


Background and Recording of Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”

“Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” was recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1968 and appears as the final track on the Electric Ladyland album released that year. It contains an improvised guitar and a vocal by Jimi Hendrix, backed by Noel Redding on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums. The song is one of Jimi Hendrix’s best-known songs; it was a feature of his concert performances throughout his career, and several live renditions were recorded and released on later albums.

This iconic track is a testament to Jimi Hendrix’s revolutionary impact on music. Recorded at Record Plant Studios in New York, it emerged spontaneously from “Voodoo Chile,” another blues-based number. Jimi Hendrix’s fusion of blues and rock in “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” is exemplified through his expressive use of the wah-wah pedal, showcasing his technical prowess and emotional depth.

The recording, achieved in just a few takes, was marked by Jimi Hendrix’s innovative studio techniques and unique sound effects. Hailed as one of the greatest guitar pieces ever, it reflects cultural and social themes of its era, including Hendrix’s views on race and identity. The song remains a pivotal piece in rock history.


Stevie Ray Vaughan Rendition

In addition to his remarkable rendition of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” Stevie Ray Vaughan also covered other Jimi Hendrix classics, notably “Little Wing.” This choice of songs highlights Vaughan’s profound admiration and respect for Hendrix. Vaughan was a huge fan of Hendrix, often citing him as a major influence on his music and guitar style. His covers of Hendrix’s songs were not mere replicas but heartfelt tributes, blending his unique style with the essence of Hendrix’s original compositions.

Stevie Ray Vaughan included his version of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” on his sophomore album, “Couldn’t Stand the Weather,” released in 1984. In an interview conducted in 1985, Vaughan shared his thoughts and insights regarding this recording:

I love Hendrix’s music … and I just feel it’s important for people to hear him.Stevie Ray Vaughan

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Jim
Jim
1 month ago

The meaning I always had is..
A child is born and the mother died
” The nite I was born……
A voodoo child….Chile is slang