Earlier this week I saw a tweet about “Little Wing”, a beautiful song by Jimi Hendrix. It had been a while since I had listened to it, so I pulled up the song on YouTube. As is often the case while doing my “research” for FNWGG, a search for one thing leads me down a path directed by YouTube prompts to something entirely different, or in this case, sort of full circle. It’s like a musical version of Six Degrees of Separation.
I began with this live recording by Hendrix that is pretty true to the original studio recording that appeared on the album Axis: Bold As Love, released in 1967. I was then prompted to Eric Clapton’s popular version, which is characterized by an aggressive chord sequence that opens the song, and is repeated later. As impressive as this chording sounds, it runs contrary to the subtlety of Hendrix’ original. But then, Clapton’s cover first appeared on the Derek and the Dominoes album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, an album not exactly renown for subtlety.
At this point, the YouTube prompt queue was peppered with a wide array of “Little Wing” covers by artists as diverse as Toto, Chaka Khan, Metallica, The Corrs and, not surprisingly, a stunning rendition by Stevie Ray Vaughan. One of my favorites was by Popa Chubby, a large, bald white guitarist whose Fender guitar looks like it fought in The Battle of the Bulge. Some artists play the heavy-chord Clapton version, while others stick closer to the original arrangement. However, the cover that intrigued me the most was this performance by Sean Lennon (looking and sounding a lot like his dad) on a French television show. Sean is accompanied by a French singer/guitarist named Matthieu Chedid, so now my prompt queue is populated by other performances by Chedid. This video, also from French television, is notable not only for Chedid’s ability to engage the audience, but also for his introduction by the show’s host, who apparently is reading a rather impressive Chedid resume to the co-host. Everything sounds better in French, n’est ce pas?
Here it gets interesting: while watching that video, I see in the queue a prompt to a Matthieu performance of—get this—“Hey Joe”, a Jimi Hendrix song!!
So, to recap: a random tweet leads me to a Hendrix song, which leads to Hendrix covers, which leads to Sean Lennon and Matthieu Chedid, which leads to more Chedid videos, which leads to Chedid covering a Hendrix song, which of course is tonight’s featured video. Check out how Chedid and vocalist Johnny Hallyday treat the performance as a mini-opera. And note an almost Jack White-esque demeanor and guitar tone from Matthieu at times. God bless the internet.