This song has it all!
A simple repeated chord progression that anyone can play:
Too simple? To twist a quote that Mozart used in Amadeus “What notes would you like to add?” This Da, Da, Daa can be understood by anyone and explained to anyone. Rock music comes in so many different flavors that you sometimes need the source to show what it is all about-A lighthouse of a song to let you find your way home through all the complications of haze and confusion. Find me a rock guitarist who has not evoked the great spirit of rock n roll by playing this…it even works if you play it as a joke…you are connecting yourself to the life-force of rock music.
A true story:
It is based on a “stupid with a flare-gun” burning down the place where Deep Purple was set to record.
Frank Zappa and the Mothers were at the best place in town…And the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio thingy that they borrowed or rented or stole.
Lake Geneva, Switzerland.
The four classical elements:
Fire, Water, Earth and Air
Smoke on the water- fire in the sky. It does three of them in the chorus! And the “stupid” with a flare gun burned the place to the ground. That would take care of earth but they were not done yet and brought in a hero of Funky Claude who saved the day by pulling kids to the ground.
The biblical story of “no room in the inn” – go find another place:
Most of the song is about the struggle to find a location to perpetuate the awesomeness of making rock music. This story has been retold through generations over and over and it probably started when mankind started painting cave walls.
That picture in a picture thing that goes forever:
You know those pictures of somebody looking in a mirror and in that mirror image-you have the mirror image of that dude looking in a mirror in a mirror and on and on to an infinity of the same dude looking in a mirror!!!!
Well this song has that…because it is a song about making a song and writing a song about a true event that is still unfolding and part of creating the song itself…it goes on and on into infinity –just like this song.
Maybe that is why you can’t kill it…Infinity just keeps going and going.
Da…Da…Daa…da, da, dada… Da…Da…Daa..dadada.
Not to mention iconic performances by Ritchie Blackmore on guitar and Ian Gillan on vocals…and didn’t rock stars who followed all try to make up names that sounded as rockstar-ish as this?
I still am not sick of this song and I have heard it at least 8 zillion times!
And I am going to YouTube me up a couple more versions right now!
16 thoughts on “Songs that can’t be killed…Smoke on the Water.”
Good stuff, and yeah, who hasn’t scrunched up their face into a ball of tough and hummed along to this one at least once in their life? Mom maybe…but maybe not! Thanks.
Funny thing, the first time I ever heard this song, it was Rock Aid Armenia’s version. That one was sung by Gillan, Bruce Dickinson, and Paul Rodgers. They had Iommi, Blackmore, Brian May, and Alex Lifeson on guitars…Keith Emmerson on keyboards…Chris Squier on bass. It was a pretty stellar lineup lemme tell you. And Bryan Adams is in there too on backing vocals for some reason.
That riff, man! Blackmore plays it alone on guitar twice to open, but the third time, Lord joins in. I think it is the combination of guitar and organ crunching the riff together that creates the depth and heaviness we all remember when we think about the song. If my ears do not deceive, other than those first two run-throughs by Blackmore, he and Lord always play the riff together throughout the rest of the song. In other words, I think this is also one of the greatest keyboard riffs in rock!
I will give you that…but how can you not join in with this tune?….I don’t care if you have a kazoo or violin in your hand…you are going to play this with whatever you got handy. But i see your point…it was an earthy-primal sound with them playing together.
Great post, you Nostalgia monster. You got me thinking about the late 70’s and early 80’s and how rock musicians were like free agents in the sports arena. The mirror image metaphor is spot on, although the mirror image used to screw my head up as a kid. Like how small can it really get?
Yes, guilty of some nostalgia but only in the same way that I drive a nostalgic car…I can’t afford to upgrade and the thing still runs good! And thanks for the comment as always man.
It was meant as a compliment. Embrace it a bit, cause the discussion on the song opens new angles of nostalgia. It grows a bit, especially when I focus on how many guitar players played the riff as their first riff.I kept thinking about Born Again, and how much I loved that album, but that is how nostalgia works on me. I also thought about what other songs competed? I’ll be patient.
Thanks man…did not mean to be snarky, especially to a guy that thinks music is old if it has been out more than 10 minutes:)
Anyway, I am surprised and happy about the interest that this post had generated- when you think that every guitar player has this riff hard-wired in their conscious thought…it does add a whole new level to nostalgia.
Thanks Mike …Der or Da you know we are speaking the same language:)
My uncle taught me to play the bass line on this song. It was the only thing I ever learned on the guitar.
Thanks Tony and I guess that proves my point.
A fantastic post…and so true 🙂
Thanks…there is a whole lotta love for this song
Songs That Can’t Be Killed has so many possibilities, we could totally have a field day. Super post!
I do feel a top 5 coming on here..I can’t see this being knocked out of the one spot but I will have to get to work.
Der der der, der der DER der, der der der, der der!