Written by Jimi Hendrix
Released off the Band of Gypsys Album in March of 1970.
This version was recorded at the Fillmore East 2nd show Jan. 1, 1970.
Jimi Hendrix – guitar, vocals
Buddy Miles – drums, backing vocals
Billy Cox – bass guitar, backing vocals
In 1999, the tapes from the four Fillmore concerts were remastered and additional tracks and edits were released as Live at the Fillmore East.
To me this song demonstrated the most powerful message in a performance. The song in reality didn’t need lyrics to understand the meaning and how in-dept it went.
I still believe though Hendrix’s Woodstock Improvisation into Villanova Junction was his absolute finest guitar work ever. The changes in Villanova Junction were unbelievable and ingenious.
What people don’t understand though to this day that “Machine Gun” was not the Vietnam Protest song they think it is.
Hendrix merely wanted to depict the soldiers living and fighting in the middle of it.
Thus Hendrix did a remarkable realization of what war actually sounded like through a guitar.
Hendrix served in the army 1961 though only a year before being discharged by request of his commanding officers then returning to music in 1962 with fellow army buddy Billy Cox.
In many interviews more famously with Eric Burden, Hendrix was quoted as saying that he firmly believed the U.S. must fight communist China before they consumed us. He was torn between the 101st Airborne in-which he served in and all of the troops who went on to fight in Nam.
Hendrix spoke as if he was still in the army. Reality is over the next few years like many who actually served in Nam many had become disillusioned with the war and our role in it. Hendrix may have as many did change their thought process about Vietnam.
Whatever the case may be, Anti-War or not. Hendrix was never ever Anti-Soldier. And “Machine Gun” displayed that feeling in more ways than one. He felt for the soldiers having to fight it and fight in it. This song describes an individuals inner demons that cannot escape their situation.
Fighting inward and fighting outward. Hendrix’s guitar spoke without words what those encased in the confliction felt like.
That’s the power and the definition of the song.
It wasn’t as much anti-war as it was feelings for the soldiers.