When: September 9, 1969

Where: United States

Hendrix’s “Machine Gun” was told from the perspective of a soldier at war in addressing the Vietnam War but used metaphors about the plight of the Black Panther Party in urban areas like Chicago and New York. This came after his break up with The Jimi Hendrix Experience when he shifted his attention from free love to social consciousness as more and more protests worked to discourse the Vietnam War.


Machine gun
Tearing my body all apart

Machine gun
Tearing my body all apart

Evil man make me kill ya
Evil man make you kill me
Evil man make me kill you
Even though we’re only families apart

Well I pick up my axe and fight lik a bomber
(you know what I mean)
Hey and your bullets keep knocking me down

Hey I pick up my axe and fight like a bomber now
Yeah but you still blast me down to the ground

The same way you shoot me down baby
You’ll be going just the same
Three times the pain
And your own self to blame
Hey machine gun


I ain’t afraid of your mess no more, babe
I ain’t afraid no more
After a while your your cheap talk don’t evern cause me pain
So let your bullets fly like rain

’cause I know all the time you’re wrong baby
And you’ll be goin’ just the same
Yeah machine gun
Tearing my family apart
Yeah yeah alright
Tearing my family apart

Don’t you shoot him down
He’s about to leave here
Don’t you shoot him down
He’s got to stay here
He ain’t going nowhere
He’s been shot down to the ground
Oh where he can’t survive no no

Yeah that’s what we don’t wanna hear any more, alright
No bullets
At least here, huh huh
No guns, no bombs
Huh huh
No nothin’, just let’s all live and live
You know instead of killin’


Further Reading:

Clague, Mark. “’This is America’: Jimi Hendrix’s Star Spangled Banner Journey as Psychedelic Citizenship.” Journal of the Society for American Music 8, no. 4 (2014): 435-478.

McClure, Daniel R. “’Have You Understood Anything I’ve Said?’: The Dick Cavett Show, Jimi Hendrix and the Framing of the Black Counterculture in 1969.” The Sixties 5, no. 1 (2012): 23-46.

Moskowitz, David. The Words and Music of Jimi Hendrix. Santa Barbara: Praeger, 2010.

Roby, Steven and Brad Schreiber. Becoming Jimi Hendrix from Southern Crossroads to Psychedelic London, the Untold Story of a Musical Genius. New York: Da Capo Press, 2010.