LENT DEVOTIONAL 2015 – 40 DAYS OF CLASSIC ROCK – #6 – “All Along The Watchtower” – Jimi Hendrix
by Pastor Kyle Durbin, Centenary UMC
First things first, yes, for those unaware, “All Along The Watchtower,” was written and recorded by Bob Dylan in 1967. Dylan has performed this song as part of his live concert experience more than any other song in his repertoire, but let’s be honest, that probably has a lot to do with the popularity Jimi Hendrix brought to the song with his own recording for his “Electric Ladyland,” album, released just six months after Dylan’s original.
As Hendrix (or Dylan, depending on your preference) sing a doom-laden, apocalyptic ballad featuring watchmen and riders coming in the distance, the lyrics to “All Along The Watchtower,” appear to contain a subtle reference to Isaiah 21: 5-9, which reads, “They prepare the table, they spread the rugs, they eat, they drink…For thus the Lord said to me: ‘Go, post a lookout,’…Then the watcher called out: ‘Upon a watchtower I stand, O Lord, continually by day, and at my post I am stationed throughout the night. Look, there they come, riders, horsemen in pairs!'” Dylan, and Hendrix, who were writing in the shadow of Vietnam, along with our countries newfound exposure to the atrocities of war, had reason to write an apocalyptic song. However, the victorious Christ who teaches love for enemies, found in the Gospels, would have also been familiar with Isaiah 2: 4, which states, “He shall judge between the nations…they shall beat their swords into plowshares…nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
Compassionate Savior, transform our weapons of violence into an arsenal of love. Teach us to love, not to hate, even when others hate us, for it is love, not hate, and not war, that conquers all. Amen.