The sixties were the home of many great musicians, but at the top of that class, is still Jimi Hendrix.
Jimi may be the greatest of that era considering he altered the use of an entire instrument forever. Jaws would drop as Jimi Hendrix would bring sounds out of the electric guitar that were once non-existent.
Many artists influenced rock. Many bands added contributions as well, but Jimi created a new sound. There’s a long catalog of Jimi Hendrix songs that are highly successful. Yet, one of the most popular Hendrix songs, “All Along The Watch Tower,” is actually a cover of a Bob Dylan song.
So why did Jimi Hendrix choose to record this song?
In the late sixties Jimi Hendrix was reaching the height of his popularity and his songs were taking off as smashing hits across the country. Following a performance at the Monterrey Pop Festival in 1967 Hendrix was on a roll all over the world. Some of the greatest Hendrix songs had already been released on Are You Experienced? (1967) and his capabilities on the electric guitar were a widespread topic of conversation.
Bob Dylan released the track, “All Along the Watchtower,” in 1967 on one of his lesser known albums John Wesley Harding. Prior to the album’s release, Jimi obtained a copy of the album, falling in love with the song.
In the winter of ’68 Jimi Hendrix and The Experience recorded the song with “no rehearsal,”according to Sound to Sound. The article goes on to say, “Jimi just played a six-string acoustic guitar while Traffic’s Dave Mason played 12-string. Mitch Mitchell was on drums. That’s how Jimi wanted to cut it, and as a result, the track had a marvelous, light feel, thanks to the acoustic guitars that were driving it.”
The lyrics in “All Along The Watchtower” were another intriguing part of the song for Jimi Hendrix. In general, most Jimi Hendrix songs contain beautifully poetic and deeply moving lyrics of their own, so it is no surprise to learn that Hendrix was a big fan of Bob Dylan. “He loved Bob Dylan, he was fascinated by the color of the lyrics and the tone of the lyrics. It was a very special song.”
In the Biograph collection for Bob Dylan, he also discusses Jimi Hendrix covering his song “All Along The Watch Tower”
In the liner notes he says, “strange how when I sing it, I always feel it’s a tribute to him in some kind of way. I liked Hendrix’s record, and ever since he died, I’ve been doing it that way.”
Jimi Hendrix is the godfather of the electric guitar and one of the actual pioneers of rock and roll. Hendrix essentially created a new instrument with his use of the electric guitar.
The number of incredible Jimi Hendrix songs in his catalog are extensive. But, “All Along The Watch Tower” stands shoulder to shoulder with his greatest achievements. There are few songs that can startle you at the start even though you have heard the song a million times. “All Along The Watchtower” has been covered by many other artists since, though there is no comparison to Jimi Hendrix.