The Meaning Behind Electric Church

a year ago

I stumbled on an intriguing phrase while watching a clip of Jimi Hendrix being interviewed on the Dick Cavett show. There are few interviews of Jimi and this one is my favorite. He had just finished performing at Woodstock and discussed his performance of the national anthem and the toll his schedule took on his health and psyche. He was visibly tired throughout the interview. About midway Dick asked Jimi about the meaning behind the name "Electric Church" and what it meant to him. The following was Jimi's response:

"It's a belief that I have... We use electric guitars, everything is electrified nowadays, so therefore the belief comes into (sic) through electricity, through the people... that's why we play so loud, because it doesn't actually hit through the eardrums, like most groups do nowadays they say well we're gonna play loud too 'cause they're playin' loud and they got this real shrill sound, you know? We're playin' for our sound to go inside the soul of the person... and see if they can awaken some kind of thing in their minds... 'cause there are so many sleepin' people".

I watched this back in 2011 after I'd spent months researching the neuroscience of music and tracing the history of the guitar back to its roots in Africa. On a personal level, I had recently "woken up" and realized the path I was taking in life was not my own, but a safer path, one without risk. Jimi's explanation of how music can transform minds and cultures felt so powerful to me during this transitional period in my life. I did not know at the time that I would eventually work in electronics or music, but in this moment I found my religion.

Hunter Futo

Published a year ago