In the 1980s Stevie Ray Vaughan, who is so well-placed in the rock chronicles, recorded a cover of Jimi’s Little Wing, which is essential in rock music. A tribute with heartfelt confessions that rise up and down in various musical climaxes throughout nearly 7 minutes. It’s a cover done right— one where it builds upon its predecessor and adds a new voice.
Funny enough, if you fast forward to about 2:56 in the song, it actually sounds like he says “Thank You” with his guitar, without using a wah pedal. Just a funny tid-bit. It’s just one of the beautiful moments.. overall though, isn’t that what makes a recording great? Not just one pre-planned climax— and sidenote on that.. have you ever been amazed with a recording, only to hear that the same seemingly spontaneous moment is actually on every live recording or used on another song? It’s almost like hearing a special thought from someone, only to find out that he or she gives out that “special” thought to all sorts of people. It feels intimate and personal, but then you find out that it’s pre-packaged. On the other hand though, when you hear that genuine, spontaneous thought from someone, devised just for your ears for your single, shared moment, it’s what we all live for. It happens for music too— that rare climax that you know could only have happened that one time, and if anything else was different, it wouldn’t have happened, and it’ll never happen again. You better hope that the record button was hit. And what’s really great is when artists can consistently hit those peaks time after time— even better if it’s time after time in the same recording. And that’s what happens here.
Not just does he give you that “Thank You” that is so perfectly coincidental and unrepeatable, he takes you on this journey that crescendos into grandness and curls back into pianissimo tenderness, only to come back with an even greater release the next time. Just such great instincts, and with all those things rolled up, just makes for a timeless recording.
PS: if you watch the Fender promo version on the first half of this page, there’s a wonderful collage that Fender made of great blues artists whose birthdays go back 125 years like Son House and Leadbelly. It just fits so well to the arc of the song, encapsulating all that history. Can you name all the blues guys?