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Hear My Train A Comin’

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Nominated for the 2021 Association for Recorded Sound Collections Awards for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research

Hear My Train A Comin’ investigates the immense creativity of Jimi Hendrix, and his intriguing relationship with the art of song, a platform he used for a multitude of ideas and improvisation. Although his activity as a recording artist spanned a period of just three years (1967–70) Jimi Hendrix created a body of work that has exerted a significant influence on artists in the twentieth century and beyond. A headline-grabbing, explosive performer, he is widely recognized as an innovative guitarist who broadened the vocabulary of his instrument through his technique and daring use of technology. For several generations of critics and audiences, he remains the archetypal rock star who framed his immeasurable talent with lifestyle excesses inherent to his profession. Hear My Train A Comin’ appraises Hendrix’s legacy in different terms. His ability as a soloist is undeniable, but it is not necessarily the defining aspect of his genius. This book focuses on Hendrix the songwriter, a superlative storyteller who was able to combine melody, lyric and arrangement to create pieces that take pride of place in the pantheon of post-war popular music. Anthems such as ‘Crosstown Traffic’, ‘Voodoo Child (Slight Return)’, ‘Purple Haze’ and ‘Foxy Lady’ alchemize word and sound, and still affect us today, a half-century after they were written. Hendrix crafted compositions in the most complete sense of the term, making judicious decisions with regard to mood, texture, contrast and overall orchestral richness, looking at his basic resource, the guitar-bass-drums set up, as a unit to be enhanced by a range of other instruments and studio production. Deeply rooted in black music — above all the blues, yet drawn to anything and everything that caught his ear — Jimi Hendrix was a unique talent and his songs, produced in a flurry of activity, his glorious legacy. Hear My Train A Comin’ puts these audacious statements under the microscope to pinpoint the verve and attention to detail with which they were were made and why they have stood the test of time.

Published: Nov 6, 2020


Section Chapter Authors
Introduction Kevin Le Gendre
Part 1
The Song and Jimi Hendrix Kevin Le Gendre
Part 2
The Songs of Jimi Hendrix Kevin Le Gendre
Part 3
The Songs from Jimi Hendrix Kevin Le Gendre
End Matter
Notes Kevin Le Gendre
Bibliography Kevin Le Gendre
Index Kevin Le Gendre


Le Gendre's depth of knowledge and understanding as a highly-regarded jazz and back music writer is vital as he forensically examines many of [Hendrix's] most acclaimed compositions in the kind of ultra-detailed depth not found in other Hendrix books.

For author Kevin Le Gendre—one of the UK's leading jazz journalists and black music historians—Hendrix' renown as a guitarist has tended to overshadow his considerable attributes as a songwriter. With forensic fervour Le Gendre addresses this historical imbalance, song by song, analysing the craftsmanship, influences and innovations behind the music.
As such, this is not a biography of Jimi Hendrix—plenty are the books that have delved into Hendrix' life already—but rather, a musical appreciation. That said, Le Gendre gleans a remarkable amount about Hendrix' psychological make-up by placing his songs under the microscope, revealing in the process just how open-minded Hendrix was in matters of music. To call Hendrix a rock musician, the author suggests, is to sell him short.
As enlightening as it is provocative, this original study positions Hendrix firmly within black music traditions, yet resolutely outside any categories other than avant-garde. Engagingly written and authoritative, Le Gendre's
Hear My Train A Comin' should take its place alongside Charles Shaar Murray's Crosstown Traffic: Jimi Hendrix And Post-War Pop (Faber and Faber Ltd, 1989) and John McDermott's Jimi Hendrix Sessions: The Complete Studio Recording Sessions 1963-70 (Little, Brown and Company, 1995) as one of the essential guides to Jimi Hendrix.
All About Jazz

A fascinating, meticulous study of Hendrix the composer.

This book is particularly useful for understanding Hendrix’s life in Britain. Rich with detail and insight, it succeeds in opening up new ways of looking at his career and interpreting his revolutionary musical creativity.
Paul Gilroy, Professor of the Humanities and Founding Director, Sarah Parker Remond Centre for the Study of Racism and Racialisation, Institute of Advanced Studies, University College London