Jan 30, 2015

"I wish I were alive in the 60s": The Past is Always Better

We all hear the bullshit line, "oh, I was just born in the wrong decade". We should instantly realize how idealistic and insensible this statement is.We can always make the past appear more rosy than it actually was. Even, if like Jim Miller, we lived the past.

Jim Miller reviewed the latest Jimi Hendrix album Axis: Bold as Love (Dec, 1967) in the Rolling Stones issue of June of 1968. He derided the album stating: "Jimi Hendrix sounds like a junk heap...his songs too often are basically a bore, and the Experience also shares with Cream the problem of vocal ability." This is the album that is ranked #82 on the Rolling Stone's 500 greatest albums list. 

Miller was one of the few early Rolling Stone's reviewers to strike a long-lasting career in music reviews. In 1999, 30 years after his initial review Miller wrote a book called Flowers in the Dustbin: The Rise of Rock & Roll: 1947-1977. The book has Miller chronicling the "critical moments in the advent of rock and roll" including the famous moment when Hendrix lit his guitar on fire at Monterey. "At the end of the set, when he sent his Fender up in flames, the bonfire did not seem gratuitous," Miller writes. "It seemed rather a gesture of innocent gratitude, a burnt offering to the unknown pagan gods who had blessed this harvest of creativity, and granted one man-child a moment of rare bliss." Only ten months later, Miller incredulously finds Hendrix sounding like a junk heap. In fact, many of the then present music writers were highly critical of Hendrix's stage antics and guitar heroics. 

This short foray into the history of music demonstrates even a professional's ability to alter his past experience into one more pleasant than it really was.

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