If 6 Was 9

"If 6 Was 9" is a song written by Jimi Hendrix and recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. It was first released on their second album Axis: Bold as Love (1967). Later, it appeared on the soundtrack for the 1969 film Easy Rider and the soundtrack for the 1991 film Point Break.

"If 6 Was 9"
Song by the Jimi Hendrix Experience
from the album Axis: Bold as Love
  • December 1, 1967 (1967-12-01) (UK)
  • January 15, 1968 (US)
RecordedMay 4–5, 1967
StudioOlympic, London
Songwriter(s)Jimi Hendrix
Producer(s)Chas Chandler

Style and instrumentationEdit

The style of the song has been referred to as "acid-fueled blues".[2] The guitar solo is noteworthy for making innovative use of studio technology for the time, with stereo panning from left to right and vice versa, along with other effects, such as slap echo, fuzzbox distortion, and reverb.[3]


The theme has been described as an "individualist anthem".[4] The lyrics portray the underlying conflict of the counterculture of the 1960s: the "social and cultural dichotomies" between the hippies and the "white collared conservative" business world of the establishment. Beginning with a blues riff, the lyrics accompany a "spacey" free-form jam, with Hendrix epitomizing the existentialist voice of the youth movement: "I'm the one that's gonna have to die when it's time for me to die/so let me live my life/the way I want to."[5]

Authors Harry Shapiro and Caesar Glebbeek believe the lyrics, "if the mountains fell into the sea" are a reference to the creation myth of the second world of Hopi mythology.[6] Frank Waters' Book of the Hopi (1963) was known to have influenced Hendrix, and many of his songs contain mythological themes and images related to Native Americans in the United States;[7] Hendrix was part Cherokee.[8]

Various urban legends based on numerology have developed around the meaning of number 9 in the song and Hendrix's death in 1970.[9]



  1. ^ From US Reprise Records monaural promotional album (original UK Track and US Reprise albums did not list running times)
  2. ^ Newquist, HP (2003). The Blues-Rock Masters. Backbeat Books. p. 32. ISBN 0-87930-735-8.
  3. ^ Prown, Pete; Newquist, HP (1997). Legends of Rock Guitar: The Essential Reference of Rock's Greatest Guitarists. Hal Leonard. p. 50. ISBN 0-7935-4042-9.
  4. ^ Pendergast, Sara (2000). "Jimi Hendrix". St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. St. James Press.
  5. ^ Vincent, Ricky (1996). Funk: The Music, the People, and the Rhythm of the One. St. Martin's Press. p. 107. ISBN 0-312-13499-1.
  6. ^ Shapiro & Glebbeek 1995, p. 225.
  7. ^ Shapiro & Glebbeek 1995, p. 148.
  8. ^ Shapiro & Glebbeek 1995, p. 13.
  9. ^ Patterson, Gary R. (2004). Take a Walk on the Dark Side: Rock and Roll Myths, Legends, and Curses. Simon and Schuster. p. 200. ISBN 0-7432-4423-0.
  10. ^ https://www.allmusic.com/album/faithful-mw0000195587
  11. ^ Washburn, Jim (May 5, 1994). "Beautiful People "If 60's Were 90's" / Continuum Records". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 22, 2013.
  12. ^ "BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  13. ^ Rogers, Kalen (1994). Tori Amos: All These Years. Omnibus Press. p. 81. ISBN 0-7119-4827-5.