Jimi Hendrix is well-known as one of the most iconic songwriters and musicians of all time… but a great memoir writer? Yes! One could argue though, that he was a great unitended memoir writer. Despite this, I’m guessing he would have been proud of how well it turned out.
Starting At Zero is a bit like a patchwork quilt, yet instead of odd pieces of cloth the book was compiled from the diary entries of the legendary guitarist along with odd bits of interviews, song lyrics, letters, etc. Yes, my fellow writers, you will no doubt appreciate that he was an avid journal keeper.
When I picked up the book I assumed it would be about sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, and of course to a certain extent it is. I was completely floored though by how interesting and insightful Hendrix could be. KirkusReview.com probably said it best when they declared the book to be a “revelation of the restless, curious, creative, self-contradictory mind of a musical genius.”
Between reading the book and watching Hendrix in interviews I also noticed something about him that’s quite true of myself. I always find it far easier to express myself conherently through writing. In contrast, talking to people isn’t nearly as easy as I often trip over my words, say the wrong things and just sometimes seem to confuse people.
“I forget everything, even the pain”
– (Hendrix about being onstage) Starting at Zero
“I’m sorry, am I mumbling? Tell me when I’m mumbling. Damn … I always mumble.”
– Rolling Stone Magazine interview, November 1970 (https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Jimi_Hendrix)
Judging by the several interviews I’ve seen of Jimi Hendrix, I believe he much preferred to talk to people through his music, but his writing does a great job of this as well.
Also, plain to see from interviews and his writing… he no doubt had a lot of mental anguish going on. I can certainly recognize and relate to that. His anguish seemed to remain unresolved and I find this very heartbreaking.
Anyway, since great writers should always be great readers, this is definitly a book worth checking out! And now here are some parting lyrics from my favorite Hendrix song…
A broom is drearily sweeping
Up the broken pieces of yesterday’s life
Somewhere a queen is weeping
Somewhere a king has no wife
And the wind, it cries Mary