I decided to take my professors advice and I purchased two books from Amazon. I received one of them, titled, Jimi Hendrix in His Own Words. A quote by Hendrix in this book, “It’s up to the people who buy it, they can figure it out, that’s all I done, that’s all they buy records for, so they can hear things, and they can hear the truth or lies on records.” That’s what I am going to do, hear the truth or the lies in his song titled, Machine Gun.
Machine Gun was recorded January 1, 1970 at the Fillmore East, New York City, New York and is in his album called, Band of Gypsys. However, a studio recording was never released, there are several other live recordings which include, Live at Berkeley and Blue Wild Angel: Live at the Isle of Wight. It is also said that there was a lot of improvising and the song is between ten and twenty minutes long, varying a little in lyrics as well. The recording I am choosing to use is the one on his album, Band of Gypsys.
He begins the song by dedicating it to the soldiers in Chicago, Milwaukee, New York and very lastly Vietnam. I think by calling the people in Chicago, Milwaukee, and New York soldiers he is making a point that these people are fighting too. Fighting by protesting the Vietnam War.
His first lyric in the song is, “machine gun, tearing my body apart.” Clearly this is about soldiers getting hit by machine guns and getting blown to pieces. He refers to an “evil man” that’s making them kill each other. I think that the “evil man” he is referring to the government. The government is making soldiers kill each other even though they are not that far apart. They aren’t different from each other. They both have loved ones, and families.
Then he talks about picking up is axe and fighting, even though he keeps getting knocked down. I think that he is talking about picking up his guitar and protesting the war using the only way he knows how, through his music.
I think the end of his song is discussing that the government has it coming to it. What goes around comes around. Let the bullets fly, because karma will come. I think that he is also saying that the government is wrong by sending these 18 year-olds off to war. The government is emotionally tearing families apart. He continues to say it doesn’t matter whether the soldiers make it. No matter what happens they are going to be messed up. Emotional issues when they go home, or die. No matter what the outcome is it isn’t a favorable one.
At the very end of his song I believe that he is simply saying that just let everyone live. No more bombs or guns. Just let everyone live.
Sources used: Jimi Hendrix in His own Words, written by: Tony Brown