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Classics 2: All Along The Watchtower

All Along The Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix - Electric Ladyland 1968

On a windswept Watchtower, whether on ancient City walls or looking out from the top of London's Shard , Dylan's song blows in the wind to remind us of inevitable change and our apprehension as it approaches; the song was crafted into a powerful and mystical version by Jimi Hendrix of which Dylan himself said it was the best version.

Jimi Hendrix version

All Along The Watchtower is a single from the Electric Ladyland album and its atmospheric power conveys so well the timeless prophetic lyrics of Dylan , although we can all decide what they mean to us. Dylan version

My own view is that having looked back over history, the song evokes the timeless struggle against change that comes whether we like it or not and the discomfort of the unknown that comes with it as our comfort zones are breached.

"Life is but a joke" and yes there "must be some kind of way outta here" , although we have to find that way. As life goes on and people come and go, we watch from our own Watchtowers the riders of change approaching our established world from the wild windswept darkness and the eerie cry of the wildcat as the wind of change begins to howl; do we embrace and evolve or defend what we know best.....

Incidentally, will the continuing world shattering pandemic of 2020 shock us to a massive change and seed a better world, or do we shrink back to our comfort zone and post sentries on the Watchtower for the next crisis..."the hour is getting late"

The message remains in the song and music itself; Hendrix's phrasing of the lyrics is just right, the mid section of guitar work is an incredible piece taking us into a blue horizon and hope for a change for the better, although the rising note at the end reminds us of the howling wind....

Enjoy and ponder

See this insightful video exploration of the song


Became a Top 20 single in 1968, received a Grammy Hall of Fame award in 2001, and was ranked 47th in Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004.

Chris Watson

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