Red House by Jimi Hendrix Underrated? Or Generic Blues?

In my correct opinion. Red House by Jimi Hendrix is one of the most underrated blues guitar songs ever recorded. I guess that answers the question in the title already but I’ll carry on anyway. There are songs out there that push boundaries and there are songs out there that have changed my entire outlook on what the guitar can do. Red House by Jimi Hendrix doesn’t push the boundaries in terms of technique and overall impressiveness like some songs do, but it has had a huge impact on me.

I was always keen on blues guitar. I still am. I have heard a lot of blues music by a lot of incredible blues musicians all of which have impressed me in different ways such as BB King and Stevie Ray Vaughan but of all the great blues songs I’ve heard, it’s Red House by Jimi Hendrix which best embodies what I love most about blues guitar.

For me, the sound and mood captured in Red House is the ultimate blues guitar experience.

Or is it?

Perhaps I’m making to big of a deal about this song. I mean, it’s a good song. There’s no disputing that. But does it really deserve the plaudits and praise I’ve given it in this introduction?

There’s only one way to find out. Let’s do a deep dive.

Red House by Jimi Hendrix Review

red house by jimi hendirx

Red House is an early Jimi Hendrix blues song from his first album Are You Experienced that uses the standard twelve bar blues form. It’s a blues song that takes influence from earlier blues songs and it is heavily focused on Jimi and his guitar playing. Seriously, what could be better? Rhetorical question. Nothing that’s what.

It’s the guitar that takes centre stage in this one most of all. Lyrically, Red House is somewhat conventional but the guitar is exemplary to say the least and it’s the sweet lead guitar that we experience first.

The first thing we hear is some trance inducing lead work which sets the tone right from the off because you’re under Jim’s spell from this point to the very end. The hypnotism leads to three luscious bends and a sleazy lick which takes us to our first run of the twelve bar progression which is populated by a gripping blues guitar solo and following that are the first verses.

There’s a generic subject matter over yonder…

The subject matter of the verses is as old as the blues genre but that’s fine. It works for me. I don’t need a song to push the boundaries as long as it sounds good and these verses do. In fact, they move into great territory thanks to the intertwined lead guitar licks which sound completely unshackled yet they’re at the same time controlled and locked in with that fairly standard blues 12/8 rhythm.

Verse two is even more impressive than the first and by the end of that second verse, we are past the halfway point and the momentum is building.

Red House By Jimi Hendrix – That’s okay I still got my guitar

I promise that I am not over hyping when I say that lyric of “that’s okay I still got my guitar” is perhaps my favourite lyric of all time.

This lyric is not just a lyric. It’s a lesson. A way of life. We guitar players will always still have our guitars no matter what this universe throws our way. Life is suffering but there’s nothing that can take our love for the guitar away from us.

My guitar is a crutch. No matter how bad my day was, I know that if I want to, I can pick up my strat and escape into a magical world much like the one Jimi Hendrix created with Red House.

The  Red House guitar solo

red house by jimi hendrix review

Red House isn’t the only song that achieves this and Hendrix isn’t the only guitarist who has achieved this but I think Red House is an example of man and guitar merging into one entity.

Much like the injections of lead in the verses, the guitar solo is in reality, in a prison yard with no chance of parole from a twelve bar sentence yet at the same time, it’s completely free like a bird. Or maybe a fish is more appropriate. It can and does do whatever it likes but there’s no way it can venture onto dry land. I hear this and see Andy Dufresne strolling through the yard in Shawshank Redemption and Hendrix’s playing here is as captivating as Morgan Freeman’s silky voice.

This isn’t a long guitar solo but in this short time, it manages to convince me that this is exactly how blues lead guitar should be.

Red House by Jimi Hendrix – The Final moments

The guitar solo is followed by one last verse and it’s more of the same. We don’t move far away al all from what we heard in verses one and two and it would be weird if we did. The ending itself is fairly typical and run of the mill but you know what? It sounds good and it’s very conclusive.

Isn’t Red House just a little cousin of Voodoo Chile?

Nobody actually asked me this but I know what some of you cretins are like. Why pick out Red House over Voodoo Chile? Voodoo Chile is far superior and so on. Red House is just a mini Voodoo Chile.

Well in some ways, I can understand these arguments that I made up myself. Voodoo Chile is a special once in a generation performance. It’s a spectacle. A masterpiece. One of the greatest guitar / blues performances in history and what is Red House? It’s a three and a half minute fairly stereotypical blues track. Verse verse solo verse. It’s impressive at times in terms of the lead work but so are a lot of songs.

You know what else Red House is? It’s you and me.   


Red House by Jimi Hendrix is a song that probably won’t make its way onto many top ten guitar songs of all time lists but I stand by what I said at the start. This is a painfully underrated song and the sound and mood it captures is at least for me, the ultimate blues experience and that isn’t just because of the rawness and fluidity of the guitar performance or the fact that its simplicity done to the highest of standards.

I consider blues guitar a fantastic form of escapism. Perhaps even the ultimate form and apparently, so does the protagonist in this song. It really speaks to me you know?

Red House is the embodiment of its own lyric. It’s the sound of escapism captured perfectly in just a few sets of 12 bars.

Looking for more Jimi Hendrix content? Take a look at the Electric Ladyland review or, the Purple Haze guitar lesson. 

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