|Jimi Hendrix - All Along the
Watchtower lyric meanings and song
|This was written and originally recorded by
Bob Dylan (also in 1968), but it was the Jimi Hendrix cover that
made the song famous. Many other artists have covered it, including
Eric Clapton, Neil Young, U2, The Dave Matthews Band and The
Grateful Dead. Dylan was so impressed with Jimi's version that Dylan
for years played it the way that Jimi had recorded it.
|This is about changing established society,
starting in the middle of a conversation between two people (the
Joker and the Thief). The Thief sympathizes with the Joker, who
wants to escape his position in life and hates the values of society.
The third verse suddenly shifts the scene, changing from a
conversation to an almost unrelated verse filled with imagery of
princes, women, and barefoot servants guarding a castle,
establishing a place in the past. These figures are said to
represent established society. Suddenly "Somewhere in the distance,
a wildcat does growl" suggests danger is approaching, then suddenly
"Two riders are approaching" links us back to the first two verses.
The riders are the Joker and the Thief, coming to establish a
different set of values. The guarded castle suggests there will be
confrontation. (thanks, Jamie - Sydney, Belgium, for above 2)
|This was Jimi's only Top 40 hit in the US. He
charted a few times in the UK, where he was popular before making a
name for himself in America.
|This was recorded while Hendrix played with
the Jimi Hendrix Experience: Hendrix on guitar, Noel Redding on
bass, and Mitch Mitchell on drums. For this song, however, Redding
was not on bass; Hendrix did it. Redding was also the guitar player
for his band Fat Mattress, which Hendrix referred to as Thin Pillow.
Hendrix often felt that Redding did not put his heart into the bass
and was concerned that Redding concentrated more on Fat Mattress
than he did on the Experience. Things like these led to him being
replaced by Billy Cox. (thanks, Ethan - Ridgely, MD)
|The original version of this song is very slow.
Jimi Hendrix' version had a large impact on Dylan which made him
make his own version "heavier." (thanks, Ben - Manchester by the Sea,
|Hendrix: " All those people who don't like Bob
Dylan's songs should read his lyrics. They are filled with the joys
and sadness of life. I am as Dylan, none of us can sing normally.
Sometimes, I play Dylan's songs and they are so much like me that it
seems to me that I wrote them. I have the feeling that Watchtower is
a song I could have come up with, but I'm sure I would never have
finished it. Thinking about Dylan, I often consider that I'd never
be able to write the words he manages to come up with, but I'd like
him to help me, because I have loads of songs I can't finish. I just
lay a few words on the paper, and I just can't go forward. But now
things are getting better, I'm a bit more self-confident." (thanks,
bertrand - Paris, France)
|Hendrix had been working on and off with the
members of the band Traffic as he recorded Electric Ladyland.
Traffic guitarist Dave Mason caught Hendrix at a party and the two
discussed Bob Dylan's newest album, John Wesley Harding,
containing "All Along The Watchtower." Hendrix, long fascinated with
Dylan, decided to cover the song on the album. On the resulting
track, Mason plays rhythm on a 12-string acoustic guitar. (thanks,
Joey - Athens, GA)