This is a true story. I need to say this because you won’t believe the ending.
In 1968 or 9 I bought my first rock and roll album – a vinyl 33 ⅓ RPM record at the Carousel Record Store next to the Grand Union supermarket in Chappaqua, NY. Yes, I really remember that day. Jimi Hendrix – “Axis: Bold As Love.” I wore out the grooves playing it as often as I could. If you have no idea what grooves are then just think about a tire that is worn smooth.
This spring I was working outside of Seattle, Washington on a pair of ancient horses for a man who had recently passed away. His son was not a horseman but was caring for them until they too passed. My conversation often goes to what profession a person does and so my question generated a pleasant surprise when he replied, “I play in a rock and roll band.”
I love all music – almost. I should say I love all GOOD music and some might say Hendrix is not good music. If this is you, stay with me. This is not about music.
For the caretaker of these horses, a small conversation about rock and roll quickly led to Jimi Hendrix and my love for his music as a core of my appreciation of blues. He surprised me when he said, “You know, he’s buried just down the road.”
Jimi Hendrix memorial in Renton, WA. Mt Rainier is in the background.
Before too long I was following my GPS to the cemetery. The hometown of Jimi Hendrix is Seattle and Renton, a suburb, is where he returned. Just find the local McDonald’s. From there, the cemetery entrance is a stone’s throw away. Once in the cemetery, all of the real world fades and a large, beautiful green lawn filled with marble headstones impeccably maintained appears. Standing taller than anything else stood the memorial for this great musician. Elegantly carved into the granite was his signature, his image and several quotes. On the end was a guitar made of steel with colorful jewels accenting its features.
Surprisingly, there were others visiting the gravesite. Not a lot but for a man dead for almost 40 years, he still was drawing attention today. We were all polite and respectful as we honored each person’s request to stand behind things as we took pictures. The weather also honored us with sunshine casting a gentle orange glow upon the distant Mount Rainier as sunset approached.
Now here comes the unbelievable part. I returned to my rental car parked not far from the monument. I got in and took a moment looking through the windshield and reflected on the peaceful resting spot I had never known existed an hour earlier. I turned the vehicle on and it automatically engaged its Bluetooth with my iPhone and started to play WITHOUT ANY INPUT FROM ME from my “5-star unplayed” playlist set to “Random Play” where several thousand songs reside captured long before streaming existed.
(goosebumps are forming)
The song the car selected randomly was “Angel” by Jimi Hendrix.
Angel came down from heaven yesterday Stayed with me long enough to rescue me And she told me a story yesterday About the sweet love between the moon and the deep blue sea Then she spread her wings high over me She said she's goin' now, come back tomorrow And I said, Fly on my sweet angel Fly on through the sky Fly on my sweet angel Tomorrow I'm gonna be by your side Fly away, high away, fly away Sure enough this morning came unto me Silver wings silhouetted against a child's sunrise And my angel she said unto me Today's the day for you to rise Take my hand, you're gonna be my man, you're gonna rise Then she took me high over yonder And I said, Fly on my sweet angel Fly on through the sky Fly on my sweet angel Forever I will be by your side.
Angel lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc