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The Jimi Hendrix Experience - All Along the Watchtower

[Verse 1]
"There must be some kind of way out of here"
Said the joker to the thief
"There's too much confusion
I can't get no relief
Businessmen they drink my wine
Plowmen dig my earth
None will level on the line
Nobody offered his word"

[Verse 2]
"No reason to get excited"
The thief, he kindly spoke
"There are many here among us
Who feel that life is but a joke
But, uh, but you and I, we've been through that
And this is not our fate
So let us stop talkin' falsely now
The hour's getting late

[Guitar Solo]


"All Along the Watchtower," originally written and recorded by Bob Dylan, was record by the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1968 at Olympic Studios in London, beginning with a recording session on 21 January. According to engineer Andy Johns, Jimi Hendrix had been given a tape of Dylan’s recording by publicist Michael Goldstein, who worked for Dylan’s manager Albert Grossman. “(Hendrix) came in with these Dylan tapes and we all heard them for the first time in the studio”, recalled Johns. According to Hendrix’s regular engineer Eddie Kramer, the guitarist cut a large number of takes on the first day, shouting chord changes at Dave Mason who had turned up at the session and played guitar. Halfway through the session, bass player Noel Redding became dissatisfied with the proceedings and left. Mason then took over on bass. According to Kramer, the final bass part was played by Hendrix himself. Kramer and Chas Chandler mixed the first version of “All Along The Watchtower” on January 26, but Hendrix was quickly dissatisfied with the result and went on re-recording and overdubbing guitar parts during June, July, and August at the Record Plant studio in New York. Engineer Tony Bongiovi has described Hendrix becoming increasingly dissatisfied as the song progressed, overdubbing more and more guitar parts, moving the master tape from a four-track to a twelve-track to a sixteen-track machine. Bongiovi recalled, “Recording these new ideas meant he would have to erase something. In the weeks prior to the mixing, we had already recorded a number of overdubs, wiping track after track. (Hendrix) kept saying, ‘I think I hear it a little bit differently.' " The finished version was released on the album Electric Ladyland in September 1968. Hendrix’s obsessive re-working of the song transformed it from a quiet acoustic ballad to a pyrotechnic display of Hendrix’s guitar virtuosity. The single reached number five in the British charts, and number 20 on the Billboard chart. Dylan has described his reaction to hearing Hendrix's version: "It overwhelmed me, really. He had such talent, he could find things inside a song and vigorously develop them. He found things that other people wouldn't think of finding in there. He probably improved upon it by the spaces he was using. I took license with the song from his version, actually, and continue to do it to this day." In the booklet accompanying his Biograph album, Dylan said: "I liked Jimi Hendrix's record of this and ever since he died I've been doing it that way... Strange how when I sing it, I always feel it's a tribute to him in some kind of way." Hendrix's version was featured in the movies Withnail and I, Rush, Private Parts, Forrest Gump, A Bronx Tale, Vegas Vacation, Tupac: Resurrection and the 2001 remake of Brian's Song and also in television shows such as The Simpsons, in episodes "Mother Simpson" and "My Mother the Carjacker". The History Channel series Ax Men uses a portion of the song in its opening credits. The song was also mentioned by Fox Mulder in The X-Files season one episode 'Beyond the Sea.' More recently, All Along The Watchtower received an infusion, when composer Bear McCreary adapted the song, for the Sci-Fi Phenom: "Battlestar Galactica" (Hendrix's version also appears, in the series finale!) This version of the song appears at number 48 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest songs ever, and in 2000, British magazine Total Guitar named it top of the list of the greatest cover versions ever.

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