Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Jimi Hendrix forever stamp

The Jimi Hendrix forever U.S. postage stamp was purchased here with little thought and with hardly a glance while at the local post office.  It was Jimi Hendrix, the brief thought went, and those stamps should unequivocally be in the desk drawer along with the flowers, flags, and cars already there at the moment.

Later, at home, I looked at it closely.  Then I mulled it over for a few days.  And it became clear that I really did not like this stamp.  Who designed it, J. Edgar Hoover?  The reddish lips, the Shiva like hair, the closed eyes, and the ugly greenish purplish background that must be meant to be viewed as psychedelic.  This stamp is a hideous remembrance of one of the greatest guitar players ever.  It is not only insulting, it is ugly.

Jimi Hendrix is remembered with, but is not defined by, the counter culture.  He was first and foremost a musician, songwriter, and a bluesman.  When the jazzman John Coltrane played "My Favorite Things" and then went to places unimaginable, he was no less a jazzman, and when bluesman Jimi played the "Star Spangled Banner" and then went to places previously unheard of, he was no less a bluesman.  To take a genre to a fully unexpected place, to extrapolate on themes that are unfamiliar to most, does not take away the origin of the brilliance.  To someone in the U.S. Postal Service or U.S. Government, that does not seem to be their take on things.

To see Jimi Hendrix perform was an awe inspiring experience, or as his first album asked "Are You Experienced".  It was mesmerizing and evolved from note to note in ways that were stunning and unexpected.  This stamp is not experienced.  It is all introspection and isolation.  It has nothing to do with Jimi Hendrix.

Hendrix was so innovative and powerful that he could cover other people's great work and make them into something new, soulfully doing so, thinking here "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band" and "All Along the Watchtower" as spine tingling examples.

The Post Office's soulless and thoughtless stamp is just sad.  


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