All Along The Watchtower Analysis

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The Poietic Aspect of Hendrix 's "All Along the Watchtower"
Jimi Hendrix, probably one of the greatest guitarists of all time, in 1968 covered "All along the watchtower," a song originally written and performed a few months earlier by Bob Dylan. Even though Hendrix 's admiration for Dylan 's work was well known , his choice to cover a song belonging to a completely different music genre is emblematic. So why did Hendrix decide to cover Bob Dylan 's "All along the watchtower?" In this paper, I will argue that Hendrix 's cover of Dylan 's "All along the watchtower," thanks to its lyrics and sound dynamic, optimally conveys his anti-war and anti-violence beliefs.
To understand the meaning of the song, it is interesting to analyze its dynamic
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In fact, overall, the guitar - high pitched when playing alone, while grave and perfectly following Hendrix 's voice while he sings - sounds as it would like to mutely communicate the melancholy of the lyrics and the meaning of the song . The electric guitar also has one other crucial role in the song: during every verse (0:18-0:52; 1:10-1:43; 2:49-3:23), it fills the voids left by the vocals, which, after every sentence, take a brief pause . The guitar-lyrics alternation feels as though Hendrix is trying to communicate, with music, what words fail to - or cannot - say. The lyrics of the first verse prove exceptionally interesting when analyzed both alone and accompanied by the instruments. In particular, the first verse is the recount of a conversation between a joker and a thief, archetypal of society rejection, where the joker argues that "there must be some kind of way outta here" (verse 1). Although it is not clear to what the joker is referring to, it seems that he is asking about a way out of a situation which has been going on for a while. For example, the joker may be referring to the Vietnam War and wondering whether the country 's situation would improve. The verse continues with the same character 's monologue characterized by a deep…show more content…
Moreover, the two transitions between the three verses (0:52-1:10; 1:43-2:00) also prove compelling. First, the electric guitar has a high pitch sound and it is distorted thus generating a sound that feels almost chaotic. This combination of sounds may be a reference to the general confusion that people felt towards the outcome of the Vietnam War during the 1960s. Moreover, even though the instruments build up in intensity, it feels like they never truly unleash the frustration and anger that characterizes the lyrics; this choice could be an allusion to Hendrix 's anti-violence beliefs. Therefore, not discharging all the pent-up resentment could be his way of suggesting that violence is not - and will not - be the solution to anything, neither in a war nor in a song. This hypothesis could also be substantiated by the sound dynamic from minute 2:00 to 2:15 where the heavy guitar distortion makes the electric guitar sound bouncy - psychedelic. These fifteen seconds might be an alternative offered by Hendrix to the violence that could have arisen from his cover song. In particular, these sounds could be a reference to the Hippie counterculture that developed as an anti-war movement during the sixties. The Hippie movement advocated peace, love, and, also, pleasure. They expressed their disagreement with politicians and society through their style, the music they listened to, their way of speaking and communicating, and the use of recreational drugs. This
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