Jimi Hendrix – role model for educators?

In working through some e-mail that had piled up in my Inbox during the last few days, I came across yesterday’s “Best of the Web” feature from the Wall Street Journal.  In it, James Taranto does his usual thorough and snarky job of poking some deserving sould in the eye — in this case, the school system (actually, its board and leaders) of San Francisco.

Read it yourself, here: “News from Nancy Pelosi’s District”.

In that section, Taranto contrasts the district’s choice to allow the JROTC to evaporate due to the usual complaints (the standard “anti-armed forces” sentiment and dislike of the military’s “discrimination” against homosexuals) with their choice to make Jimi Hendrix the new symbol of their school transformational plan, placing his picture not only on the cover, but also on every page of their 51-page manual, and on an included poster, and on the program tote bag.

Taranto’s summary of the situation?

“So in San Francisco, if you’re willing to risk your life for your country, you must be brainwashed. If you choke to death on your own vomit, you’re a role model.”

(In a follow up the next day, James Taranto points out that the anti-JROTC/pro-Hendrix combo is actually ironic, since Mr. Hendrix was, himself, supportive of military involvement in Vietnam at the time, disagreeing with the cause célèbre of many of those now condeming programs such as the JROTC.)

Now, while I can read about things like this and scratch my head at the obliviousness of some people, the fact is that a “counterculture” mentality has become, in a real sense, the norm.  People like Jimi Hendrix are celebrated.  Generally, no one (publically) agrees with his abuse of drugs and alcohol and his self-destruction before the age of 28.  Yet, at the same time, many approve of the direction in which he and his contemporaries took our culture — the path that they established and on which we continue.

Is there anyone out there who thinks that a path forged by a drug addled mind might not be the best one to walk, or that the “freedom” he symbolized might–in actuality–not be freedom, at all?  Or is such an idea impossible to see through all the purple haze?

15 thoughts on “Jimi Hendrix – role model for educators?

  1. Wow, Mike. I am impressed. Perhaps the wittiest and most concise marriage of mentioned location, given topic, and extended reference for the sake of social commentary that could have been made following that post. You deserve a Snickers Bar for that one.

    Are you suggesting that if only they had listened to the words of their hero’s song a little more closely they could have avoided much that has befallen them? 🙂

  2. Mike was a little off. Hindricks actually sang, “excuse me while I kiss the sky.” Stoned out of his mind, nonetheless.

    The baby boomers are still a bunch of drug addicts. Instead of LSD, Meth, or Qualaudes, they stop by the pharmacy for their latest bottle of “meds.” Once a pill popper, always a pill popper.

  3. Now if I could just work in, “Hey Joe, I heard you shot your old lady down…” for all those senseless murders happening lately. And perhaps the guitar-themed Star Spangled Banner complete with the sounds of jets bombing things, possibly signifying the wars around the world. Perhaps Jimmy SHOULD be honored… as a PROPHET! His role in history should have him posted as we are: all along the watch tower. I am finished now.

  4. Howdy, Steve —

    I’m guessing that Mike knew that. (Mike?) But if not, that would definitely take Jimi off Mike’s prophet list. Unless we wanted to interpret it as some reference to Shuttle disasters or something like that, like a Nostradamus quatrain that can be interpreted any way one wants. 🙂

  5. What is the school board smoking? San Francisco may be stereotyped as being tolerant of drug abuse. Only fitting they choose someone with a drug problem as a role model. What’s the reaction from the drug-free groups?

  6. Jimi Hendrix sang “All Around the Watchtower” — but at least the Jehovah’s Witnesses have enough sense not to use it in promotions. :–>

  7. I can say that, yes, that is the correct current title of the song. However, I’m also sure that Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida was mis-titled, too, from “In the Garden of Eden” after the drummer mis-heard the title over the phone… I’m sure drugs didn’t have any part to play in either version.

    (This is all in jest…)

  8. Brian Maxwell

    Please be careful with a potential “broad brush” of the 1960’s. Yes, there were bad fruits and certainly drug abuse is a no-brainer. But what about those who fought for civil rights? What about those saying end the war? These are 100% biblical ideas, are they not? (Yes they are but somehow they dont show up in COG sermons.) Why not extol some of these 1960s concepts once in awhile? Think about it.

    BTW, the actual Hendrix words are “Excuse me while I kiss the sky”. Go ahead, check it out on a lyrics website. Someone please get your facts straight. Please.

  9. Norbert

    It’s not that it’s impossible to see, considering Carlos Garcia’s credentials and everyone else that took part in the decision making. Any good editor wants a catchy cover and theme, to get their point across. Now I haven’t read the contents of that guide, but what are they trying to say?

    Children are going to die anyway no matter what they do, may as well provoke them to get an education and aspire to great things? Don’t worry about how life is conducted, as long as it’s well educated and has a profound effect on society, that makes for a better death? If that’s the underlying current of the point being symbolised by the cover of that guide, then it’s nothing more than an intellectual attempt at flowering up the idea of, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”

  10. Howdy, Brian, and no broad brush intended — just a look at the net effects. There were definitely some benefits brought to the nation amid some of the trash and debris.

    As for the “end the war” movement: Replacing pursuit of war with submission to God? Yes, that is a 100% biblical idea. Leaving Vietnam to the hell it became for the sake of pie-in-the-sky pacifist fantasies? Not so much.

    And I recommend you “think about it”, as well.

    (As for Mike’s quote of a very popular Jimi Hendrix misquote, I will simply say that your “sense of offense” seems a bit out of whack and needs a little “sense of humor” added to the mix.)

  11. Just as a note, I wasn’t trying to defend Jimi Hendrix in my earlier comment. And perhaps Mike’s misquote was a tongue in cheek comment that I didn’t get. My appology to Mike for any misunderstanding.

    I have to disagree with Brian’s comment, however. The civil rights movement began before the counter culture movement of the late sixties, and it was led by a different set of people. Check your history.

    Nothing good came of the 60s. It was a massive indulgence in self pleasure and moral decline. I know that, because I saw it happen. The so called virtues were just a bunch of happy talk to cover the self indulgence. And it could be cruel.

    “Go where you wanna go, do what you wanna do,” sang a popular song. If somebody wrecked their life, through drugs or whater, then people would step over them and not even care. After all, it was the era of “free” this and “free” that, right?

    And ending the war? What about the bombings and murders by the so called peace movement? What about the atrocities committed after North Vietnam took over? What about Pol Pot and the killing fields in Cambodia? We don’t care, because the peace movement was so “right on”?

    I’m sorry. I’ll get off my soap box now. It’s just that I remember those days. Going through the San Francisco airport and having people spit on the sidewalk when they saw my Army uniform. It still bothers me.

  12. Deano

    Wow! Don’t I feel like a smacked behind. I posted Hendirx’s version of the Star Spangled Banner on Facebook yesterday. Had no idea this was here, nor the controversy over the unfortunate 51 page manuel. Had I known I would’ve likely refrained from posting it (I’m not being a rebel Mr. Smith – honest!) 😉

    That being said, I still enjoy his guitar playing – he could do things no one else can do on the six string, and he truly understood music – the theory of it. It is unfortunate that he wound up, as so many do, in such a self-destructive life style. But to his credit, unless I am mistaken, “Purple Haze” was originally called “Jesus Saves”. However, the big wigs at the record companies knew that a title like that might not sell too many records. What’s a rock star to do? Right? (Not sure if that is totally accurate, but a quick glimpse through google shows some credence.)

    Anyways, I agree, the whole thing about the counterculture was premised on rebellion. Sure, the government wasn’t, and still isn’t, perfect, but how much does God say about obeying authority? A song that aptly fits the long and short of the topic is a song titled, “Ohio”, from CSNY. The song is about the tragic events that took place at Kent State University during a demonstration where 4 college kinds were gunned down by US soldiers. Tragic event, but that’s what rebellion brings – tragedy.

    In Tomorrow’s World, at the appointed time, I am sure that Mr. Hendrix, Mr. Jones, Miss Joplin, and a host of others will learn to honor their Creator with their music, and I am sure they will do so with great enthusiasm. They that are forgiven much, love much.

    Hope you are all having a great Sabbath.


  13. Steve, in the event that I was unclear: My “sense of offense” comment was directed at the odd “Someone please get your facts straight. Please.” comment made by someone else here on the post, not your own gentle “Mike was a little off” comment, which was tactful and polite.

  14. Mr Smith, I never thought your ‘sense of offnse’comment was directed at me. I still regret my ‘Mike was a little off,’ however. I have a bad habit of phrasing things in inappropiate ways, and even though I work on it, I still blow it from time to time.

    Suggestions that the late 60s were somehow good get under my skin, however. I half thought that you might delete my second comment.

    I appreciate Deano’s comment. He was right. A lot of these people were truly gifted. Janis Joplin had a four octave voice – she could move through multiple bars of music in a short space, and hit the tonic note with total perfection. Wow. If you look at her body of work, however, you see a drug-fueled downward spiral.

    Again, Deano was right. In tomorrow’s world, they will be using their gifts to sing praises to God.

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