When words fail, love is the only language left

When Lotte, Chas Chandler’s girlfriend, insinuated in Chandler’s London apartment through the Ouji Board that ‘Nancy loved Jimi….but shouldn’t,’ the Ouji served as the finger to the lips that said — shhhh!  This love should not be known or talked openly about!  And it should never be consummated!!  (see the last post in this series, We Were Peers).  

But Nancy wasn’t one to keep secrets, and her love for Jimi was never hidden.  What apparently not everyone around Jimi understood, for reasons that are perhaps obvious, was that Jimi and Nancy weren’t involved in that way, not romantically.  

She loved Jimi quite unconditionally, and it no doubt showed.  He could do no wrong in her eyes. She even compared her love for Jimi (in the last post) with what she imagined she might have felt for her own child, had she been able to conceive one.  But romantic feelings she never claimed to have harbored for her good friend Jimi, not in her writing at least.

At the time, Nancy’s active romance and her love for Hendrix’ (other) manager, Mike Jeffery (manager of Eric Burdon and the Animals as well), was both one reason she wouldn’t allow herself to fall in love with anyone else, and also the primary reason she couldn’t make it widely known that she was already taken.

Jeffery was married, I believe, but like so much else regarding this odd and elusive personality, the truth is not clear.  What was clear, not just to Nancy, was that he had multiple girlfriends in multiple cities around the world, from S. America to Europe.  Equally evident was the lurid cast of his moral lens, through which he, at least, saw no problem with multiple simultaneous loves, not to mention so many seductive strategies for sealing business deals.

But it was the 60s after all in the Western world.  “Free love” was the moral standard of an entire generation!  And speaking as one who was pretty steeped in the culture, I can say that contradictory claims bordering on hypocrisy were also not uncommon.  One could claim “true love” with one, and still justify affairs with others under the umbrella of “free love.”  

60s or not, Nancy in earlier posts described feeling offended (as a woman) when young female groupies were used by Jimi and his staff for sex.  She also described her sense of obligation to Mike which led her to have others present when Jimi and she had a dinner together, or were otherwise at risk of being seen as flirting in any way. 

She reported feeling dismay on multiple occasions as various male professionals from the music and entertainment world, including Richie Havens, attempted to seduce her — more or less spontaneously and out of the blue, starting with a kiss.  (The awkward adjective we now use to describe such actions is, I think, “inappropriate”).  

At the same time, Nancy may not have been so conflicted as one might think, contrary to her apparent retro moral sensitivities, when she herself faced the prospect of intimate relations outside her primary relationship.

She is not exactly forthright in her writing about this, in contrast to the boastful attitude of a groupie, but I am inclined to think that at least on one occasion, when she and Jimi were alone, when Mike was not only across town but in his own self-interested world, which did not often bode well for Jimi financially, emergent conditions were just right.  Jimi was said to be ‘on vacation,’ out of the public limelight, and the mood was one, as Nancy described it, of …… listlessness.

Were they not described as old at the time, I would hope that the anonymous couple who happened unexpectedly to meet up with Jimi and Nancy in their declasse digs (not quite a ‘dive’) in midtown Manhattan would read this blog, and come forward with a first hand description.  

Anyway, the reader might notice, as I think I do, that Nancy’s creative juices seem to be flowing more than usual as she recalls this rather unique moment in her shared time with Jimi …. and perhaps hers is as much description as anyone will need….

In a drab neighborhood, on a side street in midtown New York, stood an anonymous hotel.

Inside, there were washed out colors, thread bare rugs and dusty shafts of light coming in through dirty windows.

That’s how I remember it.

Not a downright ‘dive,’ but certainly without class, prestige, or cache.

It seemed that Jimi had not been booked into the Drake that day.

Listless is another word that comes to mind.  He was listless, I was listless, the times were listless, creation was listless.

But it felt somehow that across town on East 37th Street, Michael Jeffery was still in his element, sparkling and scintillating, moving and shaking, seducing and cashing-in.

It seemed that way because we had never seen him any other way.

But we did not talk about Mike.  Our feeling of desertion implicitly implicated Mike.  We were drifting, and didn’t have enough of an overview to know why.

Up in Jimi’s room, there were two parallel beds separated by a night table.

The beds were covered with white candlewick bedspreads.

Jimi sat propped up on the bed by the window, and I sat propped up on the bed by the door.

We could have been anyone at anytime.  We could have been kids on a Saturday afternoon, lamenting our fates, our schools, our homes, our toys.  We just talked about stuff.

Devon called Jimi cause they were going on a vacation to the Bahamas the next day.  He felt comfortable with Devon.  They were running mates.

Jimi didn’t have a posse.  He didn’t have bodyguards.  There weren’t even any roadies around, cause he was on vacation.

The hotel house phone never rang to tell Jimi that he had a visitor.

There was a knock on the door and I was closest, so I answered it.

It was ‘American gothic’ without the pitchfork.

The couple wanted to come in and get Jimi Hendrix’ autograph.

It was OK with Jimi, so they came in and stood at the foot of the beds.

I sat back down and felt sort of embarrassed, being ‘the girl’ in Jimi Hendrix’ room.

The tableau was so intriguing.

These people were as colorless and old as the hotel that had let them up to Jimi’s room.

They told Jimi they loved his music, got his autograph and left.

Jimi and I looked at each other as if our vocabulary had just fallen off the face of the earth.

We could finally make love, the only language. left.



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