Jimi Hendrix - You Can't Always Get What you Want

In 1969, the Rolling Stones released 'you can't always get what you want'.  It was recorded in late November, 1968.  It wasn't a hit, by any means.  It was a b side that never charted.  In late November 1968, Jimi Hendrix was blowing up.  He was hitting an amazing career high with the releases of 'Axis Bold as Love' and 'Electric Ladyland'.  Though Jimi lived another several years, he never released another album.  This isn't why I am writing, though.  I am writing because of the eary circumstances around the words, and the eventual death of Jimi Hendrix 3 years later.  Let's look at the lyrics, third verse.

Ok, that is the whole verse, unedited.  Let's take a look at this line by line
I went down to the Chelsea drugstore

Chelsea is a neighborhood in London.  Jimi was from Seattle, but he died in London.

To get your prescription filled

Jimi died of an overdose of prescription sleeping pills

I was standing in line with Mr. Jimmy

James Marshall Hendrix

And man, did he look pretty ill

well, yeah.  He was pretty much addicted to a myriad of drugs at this time, as just about everyone else was in that era

Yeah, and he said one word to me, and that was "dead"

yeah, dead.  This song is written almost on his birthday, 3 years shy of this death

You can't always get what you want

and that seals it.  Boy howdy, dude just wanted a nap. You can't always get what you want.  When Jimmy showed up at his girlfriends apartment, he said all he wanted was some sleep.  He was dead tired.  He didn't want to be bothered, so he took a handful of sleeping pills.  Not a suicide, or even trying to get high.  He just wanted to get some rest before he got hussled back out on tour by his super evil manager Mike Jeffries

So, I don't think anything mystical happened here.  I just think it is awfully interesting, and worth pointing out.


Wren Gradey said…
You are awesome Lang, thanks for this fascinating post. Mick and Jimmy look like gods in that photograph.
Jimi Magnole said…
There are two theories as to the identity of "Mr. Jimmy," who appears in the third verse. It could be a reference to Jimmy Miller, who was The Stones' producer at the time, but it might also refer to Jimmy Hutmaker, a local character that wandered the business district in Excelsior, Minnesota, a trendy artist community outside Minneapolis near Lake Minnetonka. Hutmaker, who is known as "Mr. Jimmy," had some disabilities but seemed mentally sharp most days, although he would talk to himself a lot. He walked miles every day and was cared for by the local shop owners until his death on October 3, 2007.
The Stones performed in Excelsior on their first US tour in 1964, and were not well received. Mick Jagger went into a local drugstore to get a Cherry Coke. Back then a cherry coke was a coke with real cherries in it and drug store soda fountains were the place you usually found them. The store didn't have cherry cokes and Mr. Jimmy, standing in line behind Jagger, commented, "Well, you can't always get what you want." Mr. Jimmy was at the Stones next show in Minneapolis. Legend has it that Jagger sent a limo to pick him up, but it is more likely that a local businessman worked it out so he could go. (thanks, Chris Hall - Athens, GA, and the good people at the Excelsior chamber of commerce)

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