Is that the stars in the sky
Or is it raining falling down?
Would it burn me if I touch the sun,
So near, so round?
Would I be truthful, yeah,
In choosing you as the one for me?
Is this love, baby
Or is it just confusion?
Oh, my head is so messed up,
Goin' round 'n' round--
Must there be all these colors
Without names, without sounds?
My heart burns with feelin' but
Oh! but my mind is cold and reeling.
Is this love, baby
Or is it confusion?
Oh, my head is pounding, pounding
Going 'round and 'round and 'round 'round.
[Repeat from second verse]
[Coda: We must get together and find out exactly what we’re trying to do; Confusion]
On its face, Love or Confusion shares something of the concerns about love that are expressed in Manic Depression. But rather than withdrawal into creating music, the song addresses the lover directly through a song. Probably the intention of Love or Confusion was to demonstrate that falling in love releases confusing hormones that make it difficult to think clearly: The girl put a spell on me [from Purple Haze]. However, the state of mind he describes could also be that of being under the influence of LSD: Must there be all these colors without names without sounds? doesn’t seem to relate so much to love as to psychedelic hallucination. Like Eric Burdon’s Girl Named Sandoz, there are times when it seems Hendrix is addressing the love produced by acid-stoked cosmic feeling rather than a woman. An interesting comparison with Manic Depression demonstrates a triad of desires between sex, drugs and rock ’n roll, a state that creates conflict in Jimi Hendrix in a sense unthinkable to people of more tranquil temperaments, like the Beatles' George Harrison. Whereas music is a sublimation of love, drugs are a surrogate for love’s trials, which leave the singer in an anxious state.
The musical movement of Love or Confusion is less choppy than his other hard rock numbers included here, as it follows the long held chords of a fuzz bass. Though feedback is involved in the guitar break, it is always controlled, quick and precise against the broad strokes of Noel Redding’s bass. Mitch Mitchell tumbles through on drums, as in Manic Depression, but the entire musical effect of Love or Confusion is milder, perhaps because it’s addressed to a woman. Eric Burdon’s A Girl Named Sandoz, which was America’s introduction to the hard rock style of Jimi Hendrix, was harsher and heavier sounding in it use of fuzz tone, perhaps because the singer is speaking about a [metaphorical] woman rather than to her.
I observe that few of the songs Jimi Hendrix writes for this album have choruses. He prefers lengthy lyrics with moderately complex development that end with a line or two repeated among all the verses as a refrain. In this he shows a preference for the balladeer style of Bob Dylan.