The Jimi Hendrix song written about a food fight

jimi hendrix

Jimi Hendrix took London by storm during the swinging ’60s. He was famous for his charismatic stage presence, extraordinary talent, and loud performances. His mastery of musical instruments was groundbreaking, pushing the limits of feedback, distortion, and energetic rock and roll.

But there was another side to Hendrix’s musical prowess.

“The Wind Cries Mary” showcased a different facet of Hendrix’s musicality. This delicate ballad was one of his repertoire’s most successful blends of psychedelia and maturity. Jimi Hendrix claimed that the song’s lyrics didn’t pertain to any particular person. Two significant Marys inspired it in his life: his American girlfriend, Mary Washington, and his English girlfriend, Kathy Mary Etchingham.

It was Hendrix who wrote, “Somewhere a Queen is weeping / Somewhere a King has no wife.” It was during the time he was dating Mary Washington during his time in Seattle.

However, after relocating to England, a spat with Kathy Mary Etchingham over mashed potatoes led to a rather unusual burst of creativity. Etchingham recalled the incident, saying, “We’d had a row over food. Jimi didn’t like lumpy mashed potato. There were thrown plates, and I ran off. When I came back the next day, he’d written that song about me. It’s incredibly flattering.”

During the recording sessions that also produced hits like “Fire” and “Purple Haze,” Hendrix introduced the basic structure of “The Wind Cries Mary” to Mitch Mitchell, Noel Redding, and their producer/manager Chas Chandler. With only a short amount of studio time left, they decided to record a demo version of the song. Surprisingly, this recording ended up becoming the final take.

Chas Chandler remembered the moment, stating, “That was recorded at the tail end of the session for ‘Fire.’ We had about twenty minutes or so left. I advised we cut a demo of ‘The Wind Cries Mary.’ Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding hadn’t heard it, so they were going about it without any rehearsal. They played it once through, and then Hendrix suggested overdubs. In all, he put on 4/5 more overdubs, but the whole thing was done in just 20 minutes. That was our third single.”

“The Wind Cries Mary” was released as a standalone single in the UK, with “Highway Chile” as the B-side, in May of 1967. The song reached number six on the UK Singles Chart, matching the chart position of “Hey Joe,” but it couldn’t surpass Hendrix’s previous single, “Purple Haze,” which peaked at number three. In the United States, “The Wind Cries Mary” served as the B-side to “Purple Haze”. Later, it made its way onto the US edition of “Are You Experienced.”

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