Top 10 Jimi Hendrix Songs

Fifty years after his untimely death, there is little left to say about James Marshall Hendrix that hasn’t already been said. Since his passing, his legacy has only grown along with his catalog, as rabid fans and musicologists fervently search for even the smallest sliver of a Hendrix’s artifact—musical or otherwise. Hendrix’s brilliant playing often overshadows his compositional genius and preternatural ability to write lasting tunes. Some of his best tracks are improvisational vehicles, others are brief sketches based around simple but beautiful melodies, and a few are best described as bold journeys into the depths of sound. With all of this in mind, Blues Rock Review pares Jimi’s work down to his best ten songs.

10. “Peace In Mississippi”

Hendrix’s influence on electric guitar and its dependent genres can’t be overstated, but his imprint on heavy metal is often overlooked. “Peace In Mississippi” alternates between guttural low-end riffage and piercing overdriven leads in an instrumental call and response. Heavy and aggressive, this proto-metal grind is anything but peaceful.

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9. “Red House”

“Red House” begins with its iconic, heavily electrified intro and gracefully slides into a slow twelve-bar blues structure brought to vibrant life through Hendrix’s expressive guitar work. Perhaps not as wildly original as some of his other compositions, the song displays an uncanny ability to make the old new and the pedestrian exceptional. It was a concert mainstay and modern blues staple that Jimi would revisit frequently.

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8. “Bold As Love”

The epic closer to Hendrix’s second album is part introspective self-realization and part love proclamation, both lyrics and music saturated in full technicolor. After running through a rainbow of emotions, “Bold As Love” concludes with an outro sounding as if it were played from underwater in one of the early implementations of guitar phrasing.

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7. “Purple Haze”

Jimi effortlessly melds a dissonant and heavily distorted two-note stomp into one of rock’s most iconic riffs, all before settling into a verse anchored by an E7#9 chord—now affectionately known as the “Hendrix Chord.” The dynamic contrasts between these sections, the raw emotion of the chorus, and the dripping psychedelia of the guitar solo cover, more ground in one three-minute song than most artists can in an entire album. 

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6. “All Along The Watchtower”

So notorious is this cover that many listeners don’t know of the original—quite the feat considering the author goes by the name Bob Dylan. With an intro set to an imaginary Western showdown, Hendrix quickly discards its predecessor’s comparatively tame, acoustic balladry for an electrified groove that showcases Hendrix at his best, both instrumentally and vocally.

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5. “The Wind Cries Mary”

Laying aside the fretboard fireworks, Hendrix delivers this timeless song of quiet resignation and acceptance. Inspired by an argument spun out of control, the simple progression and gentle solo accentuate Jimi’s lyrical poetry as he wonders, “Will the wind ever remember the names it has blown in the past? And with its crutch, its old age, and its wisdom, it whispers ‘no, this will be the last.’”

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4. “Hear My Train A Comin’”

An autobiographical origin song steeped in the traditions and tales of the hard luck blues journeyman, “Hear My Train A Comin’” takes on two entirely different personalities depending on its delivery. When played acoustically, the song focuses on the “waiting,” with its languid cadence and downtrodden mood. On electric versions, it’s very clear that the train has arrived—unrestrained extended solos abound as Hendrix covers Hendrix.

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3. “Machine Gun”

Unique among protest songs, “Machine Gun” relies on its music more than its lyrics to deliver its anti-war message. Aided by several effects and droves of feedback, Hendrix transforms his guitar into the sonic equivalent of a machine gun—clicks, catches, and bullets spraying from his fingers. Politics aside, the definitive Band of Gypsys cut will be best remembered for its ominous tone and legendary solo, which at its climax, explodes in a wave liquid sound.

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2. “Hey Joe” 

Copyrighted by Billy Roberts, recorded by The Leaves, and immortalized by Jimi Hendrix. There is a glaring difference between simply covering a song and making it one’s own. Hendrix’s ability to play anything he could hear led to an endless stream of musical recreations, but none were as personalized as “Hey Joe.” Jimi soulfully tells this tale of the All-American anti-hero in a way no one else can. 

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1. “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)”

Another two-for-one offering, the lesser known, but equally impressive extended interpretation of this musical idea resides on the first side of Electric Ladyland. However, “Voodoo Chile” is best known as the album’s climactic closing number with the adjoined (Slight Return). Lathered in extensive wah-wah expression, this version’s legendary riff anchors one of Hendrix’s most covered and well-known songs. More rock than blues and more fire than swamp than its longer version, the seminal classic cemented his status as one of the greatest musicians of the 20th Century.

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15 thoughts on “Top 10 Jimi Hendrix Songs

  • October 22, 2020 at 11:08 pm
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    You left out the greatest of all Jimi’s all time jams, The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam’s Dice, from the Loose Ends album.

    Reply
  • October 22, 2020 at 11:35 pm
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    Thank you, for keeping Jimmy Hendrix experience alive.

    Reply
  • October 23, 2020 at 12:41 am
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    Jimi Hendrix was the greatest electric guitarist ever known. Nobody can’t deny it. The music he played is beyond time and space. What needs to be done is to introduce the study of his music in the academic Program so that people could pay more respect to his masterpiece. He is the best!

    Reply
  • October 23, 2020 at 2:03 am
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    Ya looking for trouble, ya came to the right place.

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  • October 23, 2020 at 3:59 am
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    We were shocked to find out no one in the UK, especially London had any commemorative events, I even spoke to The Mayor of London’s event team, and nothing.
    How could this be?
    Jimi Hendrix is possibly the single most influential guitarist of all time, especially given his short time in the spotlight, he almost single handily changed music into rock music/prog rock and built a genre which is still a strong music category.
    Any way WE at Metriojam decided to produce a filmed show:
    https://link.dice.fm/Q6ylowPJwab

    Reply
  • October 23, 2020 at 5:37 am
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    Jimi hat mein musikalisches Weltbild in positiver Weise stark geprägt. Ja, er ist und bleibt der Größte Gitarrist aller Zeiten. Schade, das sein letztes Konzert auf Fehmarn so negativ verlaufen ist.

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  • October 23, 2020 at 7:54 am
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    It’ JIMI
    NOT Jimmy

    I would add 3rd Stone from the Sun in place
    of Bold as Love.
    Surprised but happy to not see Little Wing.
    My # 1 is All Along the Watchtower

    Reply
  • October 23, 2020 at 12:15 pm
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    I would Foxey Lady to the list and remove Bold as Love. For me at least, Foxey Lady is sexually propulsive and passionately sung and played. When Hendrix released Foxey Lady, no one was making music that sounded like this anywhere in the world. Foxey Lady is brilliant song brought to life by an even more brilliant performance.

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  • October 23, 2020 at 12:23 pm
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    Top 10 is not an easy task…maybe injust to the music itself, I mean what about foxey lady…crosstown traffic…

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  • October 23, 2020 at 2:19 pm
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    And so castles made of sand
    Fell in the sea
    Eventually

    Reply
  • October 23, 2020 at 7:15 pm
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    Pali Gap , Hendrixs’ best instrumental , should replace “All along the Watchtower” since Pali Gap is a original composition , “All along the Watchtower” is a cover song of Bob Dylan …

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  • October 24, 2020 at 12:54 am
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    Jimi!!! Hendrix guitar playing cousin Eddy Hall is still playing fifty years a.d.. Eddy Hall is the best guitarist in the world that nobody knows about. Check out his free to listen music for yourself. Go to SoundCloud and type in Eddy Hall Guitarist. You’ll be glad you did.

    Reply
  • October 24, 2020 at 4:09 am
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    I believe ‘Machine Gun-live at the Fillmore’ was a monumental masterpiece.One for the Ages, and in my humble opinion, number 1.

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  • October 26, 2020 at 8:51 am
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    A Hendrix top ten list ?! Ugh ! The music speaks for itself. Never confined and never to be defined.It just is.

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  • October 27, 2020 at 4:23 pm
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    And just think nobody liked his music in the USA so he left and went to London and played where they loved him and his music.After he made it there he came back to the States and by than we all loved him and his music.Funny how that works!There will never be another like Jimi no matter how hard they try thats my opinion anyway.

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