On May 12th, 1967 English-American rock band The Jimi Hendrix Experience released their first album, Are You Experienced? Beyond it simply being a reference to the band name I think it’s a great title, as it poses a fundamental question for a new band releasing it’s first recording: do you have what it takes?
Jimi had enjoyed some success as a hired hand in years previous, playing guitar in bands for famous names such as The Isley Brothers & Little Richard, but this was different. He now wanted to release something that was his own creation, under his own name.
It’s easy for us, with the benefit of retrospect, to see that move as being an obvious one for such a gifted musician – but in reality it was a risk to leave a secure, supporting role to become the captain of his own ship.
Jimi Hendrix has since gone down in history as being one of rock’s grand masters, but that would never have happened had he not taken that brave step and shared his own unique sound with the world.
The joy is in the journey
The journey to becoming accomplished in any field can produce some of the most honest, interesting creations, many of which would be difficult to replicate once you ‘know better’. Think of how much fun it is hearing a child express their thoughts in a combination of words you’ve never heard put together before, but yet make perfect sense!
Whether your dream is to write songs, play in front of an audience or record your own album,if you wait to make your move until you feel as though you’ve arrived at ‘expert level’, you will miss capturing the wonder of the journey – which, as Frodo Baggins (the hero from Tolkien’s epic Lord Of The Rings) will tell you, is the heart of the whole story.
Reclaim the lost magic of the golden years
In the golden years of the record label, artists were often given multi-album deals and years in which to develop, mature and grow in their craft. Nowadays, so much mainstream music is manufactured by marketing masterminds in ivory towers, and the tiny number of newly-signed artists are under pressure to be an instant hit or be discarded like an old pair of shoes.
However, I believe we can take back some of the magic that has been lost. We can give ourselvesthe gift of time and space to develop. We can record our ideas (crikey – even on our phones!), capture who we are and where we’re at, and look back on the journey of our development with a real sense of accomplishment.
Couple that with the relief of not having the insane pressure of paying back hundreds of thousands of pounds of record label advance money, and the revelation dawns as to what a blessed time we live in.
We can all now make great sounding music without having to ask anybody’s permission. Music is truly transitioning back into the hands of the people.
Grab a hold!