JIMI Hendrix trapped in a perfume bottle is an odd sort of Christmas sight. But here he is with all his wayward brilliance squeezed into a bottle of Chanel Something Or Other.
Chanel no 28 perhaps, as that’s the age the guitarist was when he died in 1970 from drug-related complications.
Only the good die young enough to be eternally repackaged in the afterlife and to be dragged out for the Christmas TV ads. Perhaps it was the song that got to me. The message in the perfume bottle from Hendrix is his sublime cover of Bob Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower. This is the best cover version of any song anywhere, and I shall leave you all to argue among yourselves while I stroll off along the path of certainty. I am not certain about everything in life, but of that I am certain.
So much vintage wonder from the Nobel Prize-ducking Dylan and the briefly incandescent Hendrix is contained in that song. Now stoppered up in a one-minute perfume ‘movie’ as the advertising people like to call these things. It was the lyrics that did it…
“There must be some kind of way outta here, Said the joker to the thief.”
That image summoned another of Hendrix trying to find a way out of that perfume bottle. “Businessmen they drink my wine…” and then reduce me to the essence of something or other expensive. Did Hendrix wear aftershave himself or was he bathed in the sweat of briefly fleeting brilliance? Who knows, although he would have been sweaty on stage, for sure.
Hendrix is not the only one to have been granted a fragrant afterlife. Janis Joplin was troubled in life and put herself on the track to oblivion early on. The song is Piece of My Heart, a truly great Joplin moment, combining all her roughness and tenderness. I am not even sure what the word is for that tender rough lost sprite. Perfume is not the word you would choose, but here she is, laying her dead heart on the line for Dior.
I just watched the advert online – pardon, not the advert, but the “director’s cut” of the advert. This term usually refers to the long-winded version of a film that a director brings out later, restoring all the bits the studio insisted on cutting out. And now even a perfume ad has a director’s cut. Who knows but perhaps there is a director’s cut of the Lidl carrot; or a director’s slice maybe.
I hadn’t noticed until now that it is Natalie Portman in that perfume advert, running away from her wedding while Janis Joplin hymns her escape.
If you wish to be optimistic, and it’s not a bad idea at this time of year, these adverts do at least keep good dead people in the public mind. But if optimism is in short supply, you might pause to fret over the grubby opportunism of it all.
Perfume adverts are everywhere in the weeks before Christmas. I don’t know where they go for the rest of the year. But come December they fill the screen like so many migrating birds.
I am not sure the ads work. My wife has been telling me that she’d like a bottle of Chanel No 5 for years, and I still haven’t bought her one. Perhaps she would like a bottle of Chanel Jimi.
Coffee companies are in on the act, too. Otis Redding’s (Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay has been remixed by the irksome Will.i.am for a Nescafe ad promoting those ubiquitous coffee capsules. I love the song but don’t much like the ad. Or the coffee. I like my coffee in beans and my Otis Redding in the warm and wistful original.