Song of the Day #4,667: ‘Smoke On the Water’ – Deep Purple

2016 was a big catch-up year for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. In addition to the long-awaited inductions of Cheap Trick and Chicago, the English hard rock band Deep Purple made it into the Hall after a 22-year wait.

Considered part of the “unholy trinity” of English hard rock bands, along with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, Deep Purple had been nominated twice before (in 2013 and 2014) before finally making the cut.

Deep Purple was a major influence on heavy metal and hard rock bands on both sides of the pond. But for those averse to the genre, like me, they are primarily known for one song — ‘Smoke On the Water.’

This track features one of the most familiar guitar riffs in rock history, and an argument could be made that the band deserved their Rock Hall admission based on this contribution alone.

‘Smoke On the Water’ tells the true story of a fire that started when a concertgoer fired a flare into the ceiling during a Frank Zappa concert at the Montreux Casino in Switzerland.

[Verse 1]
We all came out to Montreux
On the Lake Geneva shoreline
To make records with a mobile
We didn’t have much time
But Frank Zappa and the Mothers
Were at the best place around
But some stupid with a flare gun
Burned the place to the ground

[Chorus]
Smoke on the water
(And fire in the sky)
Smoke on the water

[Verse 2]
They burned down the gambling house
It died with an awful sound
Funky Claude was running in and out
Pulling kids out the ground
When it all was over
We had to find another place
But Swiss time was running out
It seemed that we would lose the race

[Chorus]
Smoke on the water
(And fire in the sky)
Smoke on the water

[Guitar Solo]

[Verse 3]
We ended up at the Grand Hotel
It was empty cold and bare
But with the Rolling-truck-Stones-thing just outside
Making our music there
With a few red lights, a few old beds
We made a place to sweat
No matter what we get out of this
I know, I know we’ll never forget

[Chorus]
Smoke on the water
(And fire in the sky)
Smoke on the water

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,667: ‘Smoke On the Water’ – Deep Purple

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    This song certainly has one of the most recognizable guitar rifts in rock history – likely played in every Guitar Center across the country for decades by aspiring rock wannabes showing off their ability to play bar chords. For me though, when this riff would come on the radio, I would usually change the station, and that was back when I was more into classic rock than I am now. Not that it’s a bad song, and I appreciate the influence it had, it just does nothing for me personally.

  2. Amy says:

    I had no idea what this song was about. Reading the lyrics while listening to the song this morning, I’m left feeling it’s somehow disrespectful to rock out to a song about such a tragedy. Like Dana, I, too, know the riff well and have likely listened to the entire song once or twice in my life.

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