Jimi Hendrix performs “All Along the Watchtower” (1968)

Jimi Hendrix performs the Star-Spangled Banner at Woodstock (August 1969)

Guided Primary Source Discussion Questions

1) Here is a link to the lyrics to “All Along the Watchtower.”  What elements of the language and imagery do you think evoke the danger and uncertainty of war? And what elements of Hendrix’s own musical performance do you think help emphasize these themes?

2) People often forget that “The Star-Spangled Banner” is actually a song about war. What are some of the moments in Hendrix’s version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” that seem to sonically evoke this?

3) Many people have described Hendrix’s performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” as a work of protest music, but Hendrix himself often characterized it as a work of patriotism. But it can be both! How do you think patriotism and protest are connected to one another, both in this piece of music and also in general?

Prof. Jack Hamilton on Hendrix during Vietnam 

Jack Hamilton is assistant professor of American Studies and Media Studies at the University of Virginia. He is a cultural historian who studies sound, media, and popular culture, and his other areas of interest include film, sports, television, and journalism. His first book, Just Around Midnight: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination (Harvard UP, 2016), received Honorable Mention for the Woody Guthrie Award (Outstanding Book) from the International Association for the Study of Popular Music. In 2017 PopMatters named Just around Midnight one of the “10 Conversation-Shifting Books about Music” of the past ten years.  Since 2013 he has also been the pop critic for Slate magazinewhere he writes about music, sports, and other areas of culture, and in 2016 he hosted the Slate podcast series “Pop, Race, and the ‘60s”. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, NPR, ESPN, Transition, L.A. Review of Books, and many other venues.