Awesome Tune: “Love or Confusion” by The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Jimi Hendrix was, as Patti Smith once said, a “guitar poet”. Every note he played was spiritually resonant, and there was nothing beyond his reach. We may never see another guitar player who is able to do what Hendrix did. There are imitators, for sure, and there are many capable Hendrix impressionists. But none of them can capture the energy of the man, or the soul of his art.

This edition of “Awesome Tune” is devoted to one of my favourite Hendrix songs, and one of the most over-looked. “Love or Confusion” is a droning, knotty masterpiece from the “Are You Experienced?” album. It’s a mutli-part, polyrythmic composition that reeks of mystery and power. The lyrics are among Jimi’s best, and the Experience plays with more finesse than almost any other track on this album. The arrangement features multiple time signature changes and relies heavily on interlocking syncopation. Jimi’s guitar sounds expand and contract like stars collapsing in on themselves. The mid-song key change is so abrupt that that it almost feels like a different song. And listen to those crazy pauses at the end, when the gritty, bent guitars swing back and forth in your headphones, and the drums dance around and then vanish into thin air. It is truly awesome.

This song was so tricky to play that the Experience apparently never attempted to pull it off live, save for once during a recording session for the BBC. Here is that version:

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