This Week in Vinyl: The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced

Are You Experienced – 1968 Pressing by Reprise Records

So much of music is nostalgic, is it not? A certain song or record can awaken memories long forgotten. I’m not sure what recently reminded me of this record in particular. Perhaps it was something I was writing, or maybe a chance encounter in a playlist, but there was this memory brought to the forefront, of sitting in my car as a teenager with this CD in the box on the front seat. I couldn’t wait to get home and play it.

The year was somewhere around 1994, and the car was a late 80’s Saab 900s. It was a terrible, terrible car. It was hilariously unreliable, having a tendency to break in unique and expensive ways, usually in the middle of the night. A personality trait my parents were particularly fond of. And occasionally on dates. A trait I was even less fond of. It was however, a car. And I was lucky to have it. Back in those days (yeah I said that) CD players in cars were pretty luxury, and this champagne and maroon themed vehicle had but a humble tape deck. I bought one of those the tape deck adapters from RadioShack (feeling old yet?) and a Sony Discman CD player that I wrapped in a towel in a weak attempt to keep the CD from skipping while driving to and from school. It sometimes worked.

I had no idea who Jimi Hendrix was at the time. That seems inconceivable now. I was in the early stages of a musical awakening brought on my friends that started with this record. As blues and rock worked their way into my neuro pathways I wanted to hear more. I wanted to know which musicians influenced others, and listen to their music. It was, and continues to be, the best kind of rabbit hole. One record opening another, and then another. For me it started with Stevie Ray Vaughan, and not long after I took a leap and bought this CD.

As I sit here now, listening to this 1968 pressing, crackles, pops and all, I can remember my first impressions. It was simply like nothing I had ever heard before. In all the years since it’s initial release, I can’t help but smile at the thought of decades of young, impressionable and budding musicians sitting in their rooms, or their cars, or wherever, listening to something so completely different and thereby opening their minds. This record was the first example in my young life, as a human and musician, that I realized that music didn’t have rules or boundaries. It could be whatever you wanted it to be. It would be decades before I could truly understand that.

From the Jacket:

Be forewarned. Used to be an experience meant making you older. This one makes you wider. With the assistance of Mitch Mitchell (on drums), and Noel Redding (on guitar), Jimi Hendrix breaks the world into interesting fragments. Then reassembles it. You hear with new ears, after being experienced.

You hear with new ears. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

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