Here’s The True Meaning Of Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze”

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Jimi Hendrix released “Purple Haze” in 1967, and ever since then, fans have debated its true meaning.

Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix says “Purple Haze” is not about a drug-induced experience (photo via Okayplayer)

Hendrix wrote the song backstage before a concert on December 26, 1966, with the famous guitar riff coming to him ten days earlier.

According to the book Ultimate Hendrix, producer Chas Chandler said he was a witness to song’s birth when he heard Hendrix playing the riff.

“I heard him playing it at the flat and was knocked out,” Chandler said. “I told him to keep working on that, saying, ‘That’s the next single!'”

Most people believe the lyrics describe a psychedelic experience with LSD, especially epitomized in the lines “Excuse me while I kiss the sky” and “Purple haze all in my brain.”

Hendrix has offered many contradicting meanings in interviews, but none of them involve a drug trip.

Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix (photo via Public Radio International)

In a January 1967 interview, according to Rolling StoneHendrix said it was describing a dream he’d had.

“I dream a lot and I put my dreams down as songs,” he said. “I wrote one called ‘First Look Around the Corner’ and another called ‘The Purple Haze,’ which was about a dream I had that I was walking under the sea.”

He was also a big fan of science fiction. He wrote a much longer version of the tune, which had lyrics inspired by an excerpt of Philip José Farmer’s novel Night of Light: Day of Dreams. In it, there’s a “purplish haze” that confuses and transforms the life on a faraway planet.

Additionally, people close to Hendrix, including Noel Redding, the bass player for the Jimi Hendrix Experience, said Hendrix hadn’t tried LSD before writing “Purple Haze.”

The evidence that this song is about an LSD drug trip is non-existent. According to Jimi, it’s simply about a dream.

But it’s still an amazing song.

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Caleb Murphy is a musician who writes about music. His writing appears in Consequence Of Sound, Pittsburgh City Paper, and some other cool places. He blogs about music at calebjmurphy.com.
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