A couple days ago I was roped into a temporary conversation with a total dunderhead friend of a friend who tried to foist on me that “Hendrix could never sing.”
I tried to explain to the young imbecile that his vocals were perfectly appropriate for the blues-based hard psychedelic rock that he played.
I wanted to explain to him that - what - expect him to use Paul McCartney’s melodic style? Or to explain to him how particularly fine Jimi’s singing is in “Drifting” and “Angel”, which I’m pretty he sure he had no idea about, anyway. I wouldn’t have been surprised if “Purple Haze” was the only JH number he ever heard, and a couple of distracted times, at that.
The only thing more annoying is that those songs are NOWHERE to be found on the frickin internet. The original studio Cry of Love recordings, that is.
I’ve always thought his singing was perfectly fine. He’s not a “belt it out” kind of melodic singer, but that’s fine for his material. I like the mood his voice sets: I find it intimate and conversational vs a theatrical type of blues rock approach a la Robert Plant or Janis Joplin or someone like that. There’s room for all sorts of vocal palettes. At any rate, his voice has never distracted or detracted from his music, IMHO. I’ve never noticed him to be horribly out of tune or anything like that.
I don’t, but I can see where some might. An older friend of mine once related the story of when he heard the JHE for the first time on the radio without any other context and thought “this band has a great guitarist, but they need a decent vocalist” ;).
Some people just have a particular taste for the technically accomplished. Which also can extend to musicianship. For example apparently Johnny and Edgar Winter would sometimes get into arguments over people playing out of key and the like. It drove Edgar nuts to hear, say, some blues musician dropping notes and whatnot. But Johnny would argue that the emotion of the performance could overcome the technical failings.
I would agree with this. He was basically in tune and the sound of his voice was fine, so I had no issues and thought of it as cool, since he was able to have that much more control over his music to go with his amazing guitar work.
I think this is a reflection of listening to singing on American Idol and that ilk. They favor certain narrow styles of singing and anything that doesn’t fit is considered bad. Hendrix had personality, and that’s considered a flaw by many.
Coincidence, just listening to “the wind cries Mary” about 15 minutes ago and I’ve always thought he gave that exactly the right phrasing and tempo. Couldn’t give a stuff if he was technically perfect as he was perfect for* his *songs.
I agree. There is room for all types, as long as it fits the song and music style. Think of Ray Davies, Mick Jagger, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, Billie Joe Shaver and lots of others. Their singing is far from good, sometimes pretty crappy, but it generally suits their songs. I left Bob Dylan and Tom Waits off the list, because for me their singing is often so bad it detracts from the wonderful songwriting. But others will surely disagree.
I tried to find a cite, couldn’t, but swear I’ve heard this: Jimi spent years in bands as a guitarist, but was reluctant to be a frontman for a long time because he, himself, thought his singing voice was weak.
Then he listened to a few Bob Dylan records. He said to himself (paraphrasing) “Well if that cat can go so far with THAT voice, I guess I’ve got a shot.”
Yeah, I can’t stand Neil Young. Hate his singing. For some reason, though, I don’t mind Geddy Lee. Or used to, anyway. The last few years have not been good for his voice. I do wonder, however, what Rush’s songs would have been like with a different, more conventional, singer.