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Embark on a soulful journey with Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing.” Written in 1967 and recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, this ballad is a rhythmic blend of blues and masterful guitar work. With Hendrix’s distinctive vocals, the song explores an idealized feminine figure in a concise two-and-a-half-minute composition.

Originating from a 1966 recording, “Little Wing” took shape during the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival events. Completed in October 1967 during the “Axis: Bold as Love” album sessions, it quickly became a live staple. Released with the Axis album in late 1967, the track later found a place in posthumous albums, attesting to its lasting appeal.

The song’s allure extends beyond the studio, with demo versions and live renditions showcasing its timeless magic. Ranked 188 on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time,” “Little Wing” remains a musical standard, captivating audiences and inspiring interpretations across genres. Join us in unraveling the lyrical charm of this poignant masterpiece by Jimi Hendrix.

 



Well she’s walking through the clouds
With a circus mind
That’s running wild
Butterflies and zebras and moonbeams
And-a fairly tales

That’s all she ever thinks about

Riding with the wind

When I’m sad she comes to me
With a thousand smiles
She gives to me free

“It’s alright”, she says
It’s alright
Take anything you want from me
(Take anything)
Anything

Fly on, little wing

<span class="su-quote-cite"><strong>Jimi Hendrix</strong> - <strong>'<em>Little Wing</em>'</strong></span>

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Jimi Hendrix

Little Wing lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

 


“Little Wing” Video

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Little Wing, Live at the Royal Albert Hall, 1969

 

“Little Wing” Lyrics and Interpretation


Jimi Hendrix, known for his enigmatic approach to songwriting, provided insight into his lyrics during a 1967 interview. He expressed the idea that ballads can be interpreted in various ways, shaped by individual perspectives. Hendrix’s acknowledgment of an American Indian influence on songs like “Little Wing” adds a layer of cultural depth. Describing the song as “based on a very, very simple Indian style,” he may have drawn inspiration from Native American mythologies where spirits inhabit nature and animals.

While some connect the figure to a guardian angel, particularly in Christianity, Jimi Hendrix’s brother, Leon Hendrix, saw “Little Wing” as a tribute to women in their lives, including their mother, Lucille Jeter, watching over them from the afterlife. The connection between “Little Wing” and another Hendrix song, “Angel,” is evident in the hand-written lyrics for “Angel,”. This suggests a thematic link between the two songs, a connection perhaps forged during Hendrix’s tour of Scandinavia, where he performed “Little Wing” for the first time.

In a 1969 interview, Jimi Hendrix provided personal context to his songs, describing “Little Wing” as a reflection of his experiences with a particular girl in Sweden during his tour. The song becomes a poignant narrative of missed connections and the complexities of relationships. Jimi Hendrix’s ability to infuse personal experiences with mythic and cultural elements adds layers of meaning to “Little Wing,” making it a timeless and multi-faceted musical gem.

 

Background and Recording of Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing”

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Jimi Hendrix’s journey to creating “Little Wing” is steeped in influences from his early R&B days. Starting as a rhythm and blues guitarist in the Chitlin Circuit, Jimi Hendrix collaborated with artists like the Isley Brothers, Don Covay, and Little Richard, drawing inspiration from R&B greats such as Curtis Mayfield.

Hendrix’s exposure to Mayfield’s guitar style during a 1963 tour left a lasting impact. This influence is evident in a 1966 recording, “(My Girl) She’s a Fox,” with the Icemen, described as a blueprint for “Little Wing.” Producer John McDermott praised Hendrix’s Mayfield-influenced guitar work on this track.

The initial instrumental version had a forceful rock feel, but producer Chas Chandler suggested a slower tempo, leading to the iconic version we know today. Jimi Hendrix’s meticulous approach to guitar tones included unconventional techniques, such as using a Leslie speaker for lead guitar and incorporating a glockenspiel for added texture.

The song’s structure is noted for its gossamer touch, starting with an arresting opening statement and a haunting glockenspiel. The chord progression, devoid of a bridge section, guides the melody, and the song fades after an incredibly sweet guitar solo.

 

Eric Clapton’s Adaptation of “Little Wing”

 

English guitarist and vocalist Eric Clapton has covered “Little Wing” in his extensive career, debuting his version in 1970 with Derek and the Dominos. Clapton, in an interview, expressed his deep appreciation for Jimi Hendrix’s lyricism in ballads, noting the structured and melodic qualities of “Little Wing,” making it universally compelling. According to Clapton, the song has enduring strength, making it accessible for anyone to interpret.

The live debut of “Little Wing” with Derek and the Dominos occurred at the Marquee Club in London, just ten days after their inaugural performance at the Lyceum on June 14, 1970. Featuring the skilled accompaniment of Duane Allman on second guitar, the group recorded their rendition at Criteria Studios in Miami as part of the Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs sessions, shortly before Hendrix’s untimely death on September 18, 1970. Clapton initially intended the performance as a tribute to Jimi Hendrix, but the emotional resonance of the song took on new depth after Hendrix’s death.

“Atco Records” released “Little Wing” as the B-side to “Bell Bottom Blues” and included it on the Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs album. Post the dissolution of Derek and the Dominos, Clapton’s love for “Little Wing” endured. Live recordings of his performances of the song can be found on various albums. Clapton’s ongoing connection with “Little Wing” illustrates the song’s timeless allure and its place in the enduring legacy of both Hendrix and Clapton.

 


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Little Wing · Derek & The Dominos

 


 

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