In interviews, Hendrix usually gave different answers about the development of the song's lyrics. Biographer Harry Shapiro points out that "Purple Haze" is most likely "a pot-pourri of ideas" which Hendrix developed over time. As a fan of science fiction, he frequently incorporated its imagery in his songwriting. Hendrix read Night of Light, a 1966 novel by Philip José Farmer, that expanded on a short story published in 1957. In the story set on a distant planet, sunspots produce a "purplish haze" which has a disorienting effect on the inhabitants. An early handwritten draft by Hendrix, titled "Purple Haze – Jesus Saves", uses dream-like imagery where the sense of direction and time is distorted.
In an interview on January 28, 1967, before the song was completed, Hendrix was asked how he wrote songs; he responded, "I dream a lot and I put my dreams down as songs. 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 later expressed frustration that he was unable to more fully develop his ideas for the song:
You know the song we had named 'Purple Haze'? [It] had about a thousand, thousand words ... I had it all written out. It was about going through, through this land. This mythical ... because that's what I like to do is write a lot of mythical scenes. You know, like the history of the wars on Neptune.
Purple haze, all in my brain
Lately things they don't seem the same
Actin' funny, but I don't know why
Excuse me while I kiss the sky
Purple haze, all around
Don't know if I'm comin' up or down
Am I happy or in misery?
What ever it is, that girl put a spell on me
Oh, no, no
Ooh, ah, yeah!
Purple haze all in my eyes
Don't know if it's day or night
You got me blowin', blowin' my mind
Is it tomorrow, or just the end of time?
Ahh, yeah, yeah, purple haze
Oh, no, oh
Oh, help me
Tell me, tell me, purple haze
I can't go on like this
(Purple haze) you're makin' me blow my mind
Purple haze, n-no, no
Songwriters: Jimi Hendrix
Purple Haze lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group