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Hendrix - The Anti-War Experience

Jim Hendrix was a major force in music during the twentieth century. He was born and raised in Seattle where he learnt to play and guitar for high-school dances. Although he studied by himself and could not read music, everyone recognizes him as a music genius. His speed and precision of his melodies, in conjunction with the ability to sing, play and dance all at the same time, was exceptional. Despite being a musical genius, Hendrix's relationship with his home was distant. Hendrix played his own version of songs in America. It was at a time with mixed emotion when everyone interpreted his songs differently. Some people felt it was an act of patriotism in a new form while others felt otherwise. Contrary, some could not even recognize the melody he was playing and felt Hendrix was ruining a symbolic song. At this time, his works evoked chaos in a frightening manner (Perone 125).

Hendrix's adaptation of the national anthem into his own composition was the most complex and powerful work he had done. In relation to the Vietnam War, the music had a corrupting and distorting effect on the American generations. He was a one-man guitar, but he could bring out all the disgusting things about the war and explain the impacts and effects of the war critically discussed in books, journals, and movies. Hendrix used a pedal to amplify his music and an electric guitar to create new elevated sounds.

Before he rose to fame, Hendrix was a Paratrooper and had he not been released a few years before the war, he would have been sent to Vietnam. This means he had been experiencing the effects of the war on both sides. He was on both sides experiencing attitudes to the war as opposed to one another could be. His friend, Eric Burdon, said that Hendrix had always talked about the need to suppress the Chinese.

In Vietnam, protection against the brutality and stupidity of the war started slowly in California in 1965. By 1968, there was massive anti-Vietnam war, protests, and student strikes in major cities, colleges, and universities across the country. A major turning point was in May 1970, when four students, peaceful demonstrators were murdered at Ohio. Nine others were injured by being shot. After that, things got nasty across the country as thousands of students protested the bloodshed the government agents had imposed.

During the Vietnam War, music evolved into a more form of expression than pure entertainment. Throughout time, music has been an influential part of the society. Its impact has been felt both economically and emotionally. Emotionally charged songs became a method to oppose the war, and vent frustration. While many songs opposed the war, numerous others focused on peace and happiness. They provided a positive perspective in an otherwise depressing time. Along with incorporating passion into music, cultural diversity increased in music greatly. Black artists became progressively more popular and accepted in the musical scene. This respect carried over to society slowly but surely. During the Vietnam War, music played a crucial role in the societal evolution into a state where emotions fueled actions, with more emphasis put on equality, all opinions counted (Perone 167).

These songs had a lot of significance. They served as an approach for survival, as a way of unit bonding and definition, as a hobby, and as a way of expressing feelings. The songs encompass all the themes a common in a military folk song: honor of a great leader, celebration of heroic performance, laments for the passing away of comrades, belittling of other units, and complaints about inept officers. These songs also offered a means for the expression of objection, fear, and frustration, of sorrow and of longing for home. A few of the songs showed understanding with the enemy. Apart from Jimi Hendrix, there are other musicians whose songs were performed in the war, for instance, Chip Dockery, who was in the 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Udorn, composed a superb succession of songs from the position of the North Vietnamese truck drivers on the Ho Chi Minh way, such as Sitting in the Cab of My Truck. Others exhibit a kind of black humor varied with violence, in which, in the views of Les Cleveland, they possess the most disliked things with a kind of crazy enthusiasm.

The music also served as a catalyst that united the present generation against the Vietnam War. Stories about Vietnam were on every young man's mouth and could be found all over the media, in the newspaper, radio, television, and magazines. Friends in the military were being taken into the military, leaving for Vietnam and not returning. Boys did not wish to die for a concern that could not be explained nor did them wish to be in a conflict whichever it was providing it did not concern the liberty of the United States. Therefore in essence, Hendrix composed music which had a the awareness that war was not a remedy to world problems, but particularly because of Vietnam and the consideration of dying for a reason that could not be in any outline, matter, or substance, be defensible.

The antiwar composition of the Vietnam period took the children of the 60's to the next level. Musicians of this age group obtained the guitar-strumming troubadour from the coffee houses, plugged them in, and conveyed the music and the significance into the college dorm residences and the dwellings of the youth of America. Music liberated the young; they would be sitting by while the regime lied to people about what was transpiring in the country. Furthermore, this was the first age group where contest veterans were returning before the end of the war and revealing the lies and pretzel reason that put us in Vietnam to start with. The social climate, plus musicians who became the collective responsibility through the music became the foundation of ending the unjust war.

During the war, the radio did not reflect the preferences of most soldiers, the status symbol among were the tape recorder. The rhythms, raw energy, and screaming guitars of rock music mirrored the confusion of conflicts and fierce-fights, and since music contribute to define a generation, music helped define the Vietnam War. Snatches from lyrics of accepted songs were used in the background of the war. "Rock-and-roll" replaced "lock and load," referring to the process of preparing the M16 for firing or for toggling the weapon from semiautomatic to automatic fire.

In the later developments of the Vietnam War, there was no such harmony of purpose. This was the first conflict in which the individuals listened to antiwar and remonstration songs while combating in the conflict. In previous wars, there was supportive music. Jimi Hendrix, one of the finest at voicing that disloyalty and youthful fury, sang with a bluesy, an influence of dirt poor, Delta willpower mixed with an exceptional, urban discontent, a voice extensively ignored prior to that time by nearly all of white, middle class America (Maga 323). In four brief years, Hendrix turned out to be a combination court entertainer, outspoken agent provocateur, and lively Paganini to a broad swath of young people queasy of the lies spewing out from pompous Washington, DC.

Hendrix did not so much chant as wage war with the single weapon he possessed. Jimi a weapon he played inverted despite the reality that he was left-handed, with bass strings under and trebles above, produced a sound, unlike any guitar played. Jimi Hendrix could play both ways of the guitar, which is extraordinary (Hopkins 116).

Hendrix soon made enemies with his talent cause of those envious of him. Hendrix had to be shuffled from relative to relative until his father for his security. This made his father return from the conflict and found that his son had been named exclusive of his input. Allen's name was officially changed to James Marshall Hendrix around the age of twelve. At that time, his father presented him his first electric guitar, a white Supro Ozark. Later, James became Jimmy. He later began calling himself Jimmy James and finally "Jimi" as his fans liked it.

Jimi did not have a good voice but made up for it with his guitar as he sang. Hendrix had been playing his version of the song, however, for approximately a year, starting as part of a guitar solo. Anything he had to say about the nation in his version of the song was surely closer to truth than what Francis Scott Key wrote in the earlier period. In addition, Jimi was once an associate of the elite US Army paratroopers, and at the moment, he could speak out his intelligence in his songs with the same logic of courage and daring required leaping out of planes.           

Hendrix insisted on doing multiple takes on every song, but still he was not satisfied. No one knew anything to do with his individual battle with drug obsession. The San Antonio, Texas presentation he made was influential, yet short and, Hendrix left the stage without an encore. With his music, he crossed the ethnic divide, drew fans from all over the globe, stood up on his spindly structure, and performed memorable, signature licks, in a manner unlike anyone else at the era (Ogunjobi 23).

Not long after that San Antonio concert Hendrix died. A man frequently given to silent moods confused for resentment or morbidity. To him, he supposed there are lots of admire given to the dead nonetheless the one to be praised no longer exists.

The Vietnam War is not well understood. Even though it was part of the American daily life for some fifteen years, there is no consensus as to its purpose and results. At the end, a peace agreement was reached, the American Congress, anxious to be rid of the divisive issue of Vietnam, slowly pulled logistical aid from the South Vietnamese. The North Vietnamese, disregarding many parts of the agreement, overran the remaining areas controlled by South Vietnam (Westheider 183).

A brief look at the war itself reveals that it started out rather with the sending of American   wise men to assist the South Vietnamese train its growing army. The stated objective was to allow the South Vietnamese Army to resist aggression from the North and to preserve their sovereignty as a democratic nation.

As time passed and American administrations changed, the roles played by both parties changed until it became an American led and financed conflict. The number of American battle troops increased dramatically, and a massive air war was executed in an attempt to interdict the escalating resupply of the North Vietnamese divisions in the South. The South Vietnamese received financial aid from a number of nations; and Thailand, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia and others contributed manpower. However, the war was dominantly an American show (Debbie 64).

As the 1960s wore on, the war divided the United States. Protests and riots erupted. Politicians straddled both sides. Music came in at this stage and changed the whole scene of the war. It brought meaning to the people and acted as an eye opener to various aspects in the war. In the twentieth century, the war had ended, but the pain and confusion from this misunderstood war remains to this day.

Ethnographic Paper Music Memoir
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