Are You Experienced?

Music review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
Are You Experienced? Music Poster Image
Hendrix's fiery debut still a stunner.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 4+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

There's a considerable vibe of sex, drugs, and lowdown ways going on in many songs, that being the environment that nurtured the blues, after all, and the blues are well represented here. But there are also more positive aspects -- pure joy (the singer of "Purple Haze" may be seriously confused, but he's happy about it) and admiration ("Foxey Lady"), and deep, tragic, love gone awry.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The title character in "Hey Joe" murders his cheating woman, which is a classic theme of song and story, but not so positive in real life. Elsewhere on Are You Experienced?, Hendrix makes a lot of allusions, occasionally explicit, to drug use and sex, and as the album's title suggests, its overall tone is in keeping with the by then well-marketed Summer of Love counterculture, enjoying its heyday. At the time, and in the ensuing years, Hendrix himself, with his flamboyant look, charismatic stage presence, and amazing guitar prowess, caused a huge sensation as a musical pioneer. Three years after this album's release, he'd be gone, but decades later, top musicians in every generation cite him as an influence, and this album still turns up on critics' best-of lists.

Violence

"Hey Joe," the only cover song on the album, features a protagonist who shoots his cheating woman dead, and flees to Mexico to avoid the long arm of the law.

Sex

The album is fairly drenched in sex, but it's mostly in the delivery rather than the lyrics -- Hendrix knows just what to do with his voice and guitar chords for maximum effect. Bluesy lyrics swirl around the subject metaphorically; about the closest to a literal statement Hendrix gets is in the title song: "I know you probably scream and cry / That your little world won't let you go / But who in your measly little world / Are you trying to prove that / You're made out of gold and, eh, can't be sold / So, are you experienced?" -- which is probably about sex, drugs, and a few dozen other things, as well.

Language

The occasional "damn!"

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

From its psychedelic cover to its druggy vibe, this album rode the wave of the "Tune in, turn on, drop out" craze, and several tunes, notably the title track and "Purple Haze," have a distinctly LSD-soaked quality. "Are You Experienced?" concludes with the ambiguous "not necessarily stoned, but beautiful."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Are You Experienced?, Hendrix's debut double-album, a blockbuster in music history and a classic that influenced generations of guitarists, was one of the Summer of Love's most dramatic arrivals. Some of the material, especially the title track, does merit a heads-up for the sex-and-drugs references in which the period's music was steeped (the last line includes the phrase "not necessarily stoned, but beautiful"). And "Purple Haze" could be a metaphor for being high or for romantic experience. But there's more sexuality and psychedelia communicated in the nasty guitar chords and the sheer attitude in Hendrix's delivery than any explicit lyrics.

User Reviews

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Teen, 16 years old Written byHackenbacker October 4, 2012

This is history.

Yes. Your children should be listening to this. This is a wonderful piece of musical genius inspired countless musicians, and actually helped move history.This... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bySuddenImpact August 25, 2013

Classic

I'm serious, 2 and up is ok. This is classic. Let your kids listen to this instead of Justin Bieber, One Direction, Lady Gaga and all of the other junk out... Continue reading

What's the story?

When he burst on the scene in 1967, no one had ever heard or seen anything like Jimi Hendrix, whose stage antics of literally setting his guitar on fire were eclipsed by his ability to get unprecedented sounds out of the instrument. Blues, rock, psychedelia and amplifier feedback collided in his music, fusing in an otherworldly brew that made him a superstar and continues to influence musicians generations after Hendrix's death in 1970 at age 27.

Is it any good?

Not every track on the double-album ARE YOU EXPERIENCED? is a standout, but it's one of the finest debuts of all time and widely viewed as Hendrix's best and most consistent work. There are legacy tracks ("Purple Haze," "Red House," "Foxey Lady," "The Wind Cries Mary"), a long, spacy jam ("Third Stone from the Sun"), and the dark classic "Hey Joe." As an introduction to a legend, there's no better place to start.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how today it's not too hard to make all these weird sounds with computers. In 1967, no one had ever heard a guitar make these noises. How do you think people reacted when they heard it for the first time?

  • Have you heard Hendrix's version of "The Star Spangled Banner"? What do you think of it?

  • Why do you think Hendrix and so many other stars of the time died young?

Music details

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