Arts, Columns

Dissecting Jimi Hendrix’s ‘May This Be Love’

Music is one of the most powerful and influential things in my life. To me, music is therapy. When I’m down, music lifts me up. I like to analyze it for meaning. It’s such a huge part of my life. This column will dive into my love for music from different perspectives. I’m going to change it up a bit this time. Rather than focusing on an album, I’m going to focus on one song.

This time, it’s Hendrix. A somewhat deep cut you may not have heard before.

“May This Be Love.”

When people say music is an art, I cannot think of any other song which defines that perfectly.

“May This Be Love” is a true mystical masterpiece by Jimi Hendrix, who is arguably – eh, maybe not even arguably – the greatest guitarist of all time.

In this song, he takes you on a journey through the gentle flow of sound he creates with his sacred six-string.

It starts with a slow-rolling drum. Hendrix’s guitar slides a piercing cry, which jolts through your body, followed by what sounds like the strings melting. Hendrix mystically plucks the strings with grace, leading up to his angelic voice.

“Waterfall. Nothing can harm me at all. My worries seem so very small, with my waterfall.”

Again, we hear the same piercing cry from the beginning of the song. It sends another jolt, this time to your soul, which in-turn channels you into the music.

“I can see my rainbow calling me through the misty breeze of my waterfall.”

What Hendrix does next is chilling. Aggressively plucking the strings, he makes a sound that sends a trickle down your spine and makes your body twitch. It feels as if the music is connected to your body and mind.

“Some people say, ‘daydreaming’s for all the lazy-minded fools with nothing else to do.’ So, let them laugh. Laugh at me. So, just as long as I have you, to see me through, I got nothing to lose, as long as I have you.”

Lyrically, this is intense. I interpret this as a clear reference to drugs at first, particularly acid, which Hendrix was no stranger to. The “daydreaming” is hallucinating, and the people believe the “lazy-minded fools” are the hippies, who many were not fond of at the time.

The counterculture movement of the ‘60s was powered by the hippies who believed they didn’t have to follow the expectations of society, government, and other people.

They used drugs, particularly marijuana and LSD, to go against the norms. Hendrix preaches self-expression through these lyrics.

Hendrix sings the first sentnce with an angry tone, before moving to a more confident tone when he says, “So let them laugh. Laugh at me.” From there, he goes back to a relaxed tone.

I am not quite sure what or who he references when he says, “as long as I have you.” I’m not sure who “you” is.  Could be drugs, could be a lover, but something or someone is protecting him from the expectations of others. It could even be himself.

“Waterfall, don’t ever change your ways. Fall with me for a million days, oh, my waterfall.”

Those are the final lyrics of the song.

Hendrix then uses his guitar, six-strings attached to a piece of wood, to create art through sound. We hear the piercing cry again in the background, and from there Hendrix takes us on a journey.

He makes you feel as if you’re floating. At first, you feel your body floating on water, but then you become the water.

You feel yourself flowing, you feel free, you feel at peace. Just as water is as it moves down a stream on a warm sunny day.

Hendrix moves the volume on his guitar up and down, creating what sounds like his guitar playing from one side of the speaker to the other as he goes off on his poetry of sound.

This creates a feeling of guidance from the music. His music flows into your soul, causing you to feel as if you are water moving down a stream. You follow the sound of his guitar moving from left to right, guiding you to musical heaven.

May this be love?

When I first the listened to this song, the message I took from it is as follows: Just as a stream becomes something much bigger, you can become something bigger. You just need to follow your own path and let the music guide you. Find your waterfall, where nothing can harm you at all.

Side note: I suggest you listen to this song with both speakers, then immediately follow by listening to the solo (which begins at about 1:50) with only the left speaker’s volume up and then with only the right speaker’s volume up, in that order.

When doing the left and right speakers only during the solo, you go back and forth hearing the guitar and bass tracks separated from the drum track.

It’s one of the coolest musical pieces of art you’ll ever hear.