Axis: Bold as Love, the 1967 album by Jimi Hendrix, fell out of the sky and blew back into my life like a wild storm. It was as if I was hearing it for the first time. I needed a reminder that conformity to the ways of this world is a decision, and it does not always align with what we truly love. Somewhere along the path inertia can get us, and confuse us into thinking that the way it’s always been done is the only option. For many of us, living our truth and being ourselves in public risks our safety.
In the epic If 6 was 9, the album’s A side culmination, Hendrix vows to let his freak flag wave on and on. You can feel him shredding the constructs and conventions that polite society require from one note to the next, and he makes no apologies for it. He speaks softly and sure: “I've got my own life to live. I'm the one that's going to have to die when it's time for me to die. So let me live my life the way I want to.”
Hendrix died suddenly in 1970 at the age of 27. Aren’t you glad he didn’t listen to the people who said his guitar playing was weird and had no place in the world?