As a photographer, one of the guilty pleasures I’ve often indulged in is the coffee table book. From Corbijn to Bailey, I’ve got books of film set stills, studies in light and even Bill Eppridge’s book of Bobby Kennedy throughout the sixties. (Who says photography and politics can’t interact!)
Anyway, they are all books based on photography, whereas my latest addition is actually a lyrics book. I love music but I must admit this wasn’t the kind of book I expected myself to keep picking up – I’ve never found the time to really get into Hendrix, and so a book of his lyrics hardly sounded my cup of tea. However, the combination of photography, artwork and lyrics – both typed up but also handwritten notes and scrawls from the man himself – is a terrific companion to anyone who appreciates the art of music.
Compiled by Janie L Hendrix, Jimi’s sister, from the grainy black and white shots of Hendrix in the studio to the vivid colours of live performances (tip to PR’s – I’d wager most of these incredible photographs weren’t taken in the first three songs!) I found myself wandering from the photos to the lyrics,
The number of lyric sheets are on hotel headed notepaper brought a smile to my face too, a reminder even the greats spend half their time in hotels with time to kill.
Weirdly, the one thing I wasn’t expecting was the combination of handwritten notes, lyrics and photographs to be as biographical as it turned out to be – the book gives you a real flavour of Hendrix as an artist and a performer. The flowers and colours I associated with him made much more sense having read the lyrics, while the way that the cultural revolution taking place at the time influenced him made more sense to me.
Often with Hendrix you associate the crazy guitar playing and general flamboyance with the music much more than the lyrics, so as an insight into an artist this is something hardcore fans and people new to his music will appreciate.
So, if the point of art is to make you look at things in a different way, then just like Hendrix himself this book is a wonderful piece of art in its own right.
You can buy it here from Amazon.