Castles Made of Sand: A Trip Back To A Classic By Jimi Hendrix
By Sabin-Teodor Marcusan-Dumitru
Thinking about castles made of sand, you can see a shore, somewhere, with a couple of seagulls flying on and off, while the waves crash forever, promising that each time, they’ll get closer and closer to melt those castles
Temporary. Everything is temporary, but temporary things come and go, creating a continuous cycle; so fool yourself no more, but believe it can last. Now, pick up the guitar and play something that will tell this kind of story, play the waves and make that continuous cycle ring throughout the song like the sound of the breeze … “And so castles made of sand … fall in the sea … eventually” whispers the last word so he can hear it again as it fades in and out.
Jimi Hendrix wrote this song, releasing his memories of the twisted childhood he had, in a manner that creates the impression of being in a dream or going back in the past, just like that reversed guitar phrase that we hear in the background and then the guitar solo starting at 1:31. So who could do time travel playing the guitar?
He told his brother about this song, as we find out in Jimi Hendrix – A brother’s Story, the book Leon Hendrix wrote about him: “Before he left, he gave me a copy of his latest album […] which he said contained a song called Castles Made of Sand. ‘That’s a song about us growing up,’ Jimi told me. […] Just as Jimi said, the song’s lyrics told some of the story of our childhood. The first verse was all about Mama leaving Dad for the final time after the car crash in his convertible. Jimi’s words brought back a vivid memory of that day.
I was surprised to find myself the main character in the second verse, which spoke of the ‘little Indian brave’ who was snatched up in a ‘surprise attack’ before he turned ten years old. That was exactly when Dad was forced to place me in foster care at the Wheelers. The most powerful section of the song was the third and last verse, which recounted our mama passing on and how we had seen her that final time in the hospital. She was the young woman who was ‘crippled for life’ in the wheelchair. The song ended brilliantly with the young woman jumping on a ‘golden winged ship’ and flying off into the distance forever. Jimi put it perfectly because that’s exactly how I wanted to envision Mama up there in heaven.”1
Besides being the best guitarist in the history of rock, Jimi Hendrix also had a nice voice and wrote beautiful lyrics for his songs and we can see this is obvious in Castles Made of Sand, where we find comparisons, metaphors and realistic depictions put in a wonderful manner, as Leon Hendrix mentioned. The title of the song is inspired after a dance hall, The Spanish Castle, in Des Moines, Washington, where Jimi used to jam with the local musicians during his high school years.2 Nobody knows where he flies on now, but from the very start, this song feels like it was there since forever and he just picked it, played it and recorded it for the second album Axis:Bold as Love, released in 1967- it was produced by Chas Chandler and engineered by Eddie Kramer.3
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