If 6 Was 9

Most mornings, I’m up and at my laptop working at 5:00 am. Being a notoriously light sleeper, I find the best time to work for me, and when my energy is at its peak, is between then and around 2:00 or 3:00 pm. So, in order to leverage my strengths, that’s how I usually structure my days, at least when I don’t have outside responsibilities or appointments that prevent me from doing so. That’s how I roll as a free agent.

When I’m working, I enjoy listening to music, usually on headphones or through ear buds. It’s a habit I’ve developed so I don’t disturb Miss Mary when she’s down below, working in her office area, before she’s out and about making sales calls.

My music sources of choice are usually radio stations (rather than music services like Pandora, although I’m not averse to Pandora) that also stream their content. One of my favorites is WMBR, which is the MIT campus radio station. I think I’ve come to appreciate WMBR more than prior defaults like WFMU and KEXP, is that their early morning Breakfast of Champions and Late Risers Club slots during the weekday provide a mix of punk, post-punk, and current indie pop and rock that jives with my eclectic tastes and the desire to stay as current with the rock genre as I can now that I’m post-50 and no longer young.

The Jimi Hendrix-Hamburg, Germany, 1967.

The Jimi Hendrix-Hamburg, Germany, 1967.

The title of today’s blog post actually comes from an early morning show that runs on Tuesday mornings on WMBR, taken from the song title of the Jimi Hendrix Experience song that was released in 1967, on Axis: Bold as Love. Hendrix and his band, along with that record, were significant for me and my band of brothers, as we were coming up, coping with the mediocrity and conformity being imposed upon us by our masters in school, church, and within our families of origin.

The name of this website/blog was a play on the band name, the Jimi Hendrix Experience. I actually wanted to change the spelling of my name in high school to Jimi—my mother, I’m guessing, was opposed to it.

Since today is Election Day, and plenty of others are weighing in on who you should vote for and why, I’ll refrain from that. Voting may, or may not matter, depending on your perspective on things and the state of the world.

The late Jack Bruce during his days with West, Bruce, and Laing (circa 1972).

The late Jack Bruce during his days with Cream (circa 1968).

The DJ who spins the discs (I can use that term, because I’m sure Rick Biskit Roth plays plenty of vinyl) is on his second week of highlighting the music of Jack Bruce, former Cream bassist and prominent rock musician from mainly the 60s and 70s, who passed away on October 25. This week, he’s been playing some Jack Bruce solo stuff, but right now, Cream is wailing away on “N.S.U.”, with Bruce prominently occupying the lowest register on this tune.

Most of the younger crowd have no idea who Jack Bruce was. Even members of my generation, unless they were into the musical influences just prior to our period of popular culture, may not have known the genius that was Bruce. I found this tribute that was different than most of the others in an interesting alt-news publication originating in Indianapolis of all place. The writer, someone named David Hoppe, obviously a Bruce fan, nailed it for me with this, about the late 60s musical genius and someone who never conformed to having his music shaped by corporate more and trends.

By refusing to be pinned down or corporately categorized, Jack Bruce reminded us of that the ‘60s was ultimately more personal than political, a cultural moment in which an extraordinary opening was made for creative acts of reinvention. Jack didn’t just theorize about this. He lived it.

Hendrix, Bruce, Jorma Kaukonen, and a host of others with roots firmly planted in the 1960s, figured prominently in pointing me down a path that framed the world differently than how it was presented to me by most of those around me when I was in high school. Of course, those in authority never want any of us varying from the status quo and their culture of greed, violence, and lies that they feed us from multiple sources and platforms. Every time I’ve attempted to push back, it caused dissonance with those who I granted authority over me.

Yes, the masters are still trying to manipulate and control me (and all of us) to live our lives a certain way that benefits a small minority, rather than the masses—that’s fine. I’m aware of what they’re doing, however, and as Hendrix sang in the song that I’m taking today’s title from,

Hah, hah
Falling mountains just don’t fall on me
Point on mister Buisnessman,
You can’t dress like me.
Nobody know what I’m talking about
I’ve got my own life to live
I’m the one that’s gonna have to die
when it’s time for me to die
So let me live my life the way I want to.

I’m trying to live my life the way I want to, at least fight for that right to swim against the current, as difficult as that continues to be in our culture of corporate conformity.

3 thoughts on “If 6 Was 9

  1. If there are still Jack Bruce fans out there, here is the link to the WMBR playlist from this morning. They archive the shows for a couple of weeks–well worth checking out–some incredible music, including some great (and rare) Jimi Hendrix material, including him covering Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love,” live.

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