Saturday, September 01, 2007

Oh, no! Not "Smoke on the Water"!

I just got home from (a) seeing my parents off at the train depot and (b) getting into training for my big week on my battered feet & legs at the end of October. I spent five hours of nearly uninterrupted agony walking around Galesburg, primarily looking for pet supplies (the necessary ones of which the pet store seemed to have in short supply -- no groupkitty ear mite treatment, only the stuff which the label warns against taking internally. With more than one fuzzball under the same roof, and with their tendency to groom one another, I need stuff none of them is going to lick from another, upchuck and kick the bucket from).

I get home and what do I hear but the neighbor's house has welcomed an electric guitar, a substantial sound system, and somebody with the same amount of skill and talent as the boys I used to hang around with when I was young and stupid. No, strike that. A couple of those boys could have gone seriously pro. This kid next door hasn't quite figured out the opening riff from "The Man Who Sold the World," and gets about seven notes into it before he stumbles and heads over for a little "Iron Man" followed by the first three notes of "Smoke on the Water."

Not that I have a lot of room to talk -- I couldn't play a guitar if my life depended upon it. Literally. My fingers are trashed from years of bad habits, and wouldn't take more than a few notes to have me crying for my mommy. But, kid, at least learn something with a little life to it! I'm not asking for "Wipe Out" or, guitar gods forbid, "Walk Don't Run", or (snicker) "Eruption".

Just please let "Smoke on the Water" die a natural death, as befits one of the most annoying electric guitar pieces in the history of the instrument.

I have a special animus for that particular song. It was first released by Deep Purple when I was still freshly of dating age. I had finally wangled permission to go out on a "car date" ("OOOOooh!" I hear you say), and we had finished eating pizza dinner, and had made our way to the park, to... uh... park. The night was moonlit, the windows were steamed up, and the radio had been playing all sorts of easily-ignored tunes (it was, after all, top-forty in the seventies). There he was, in a serious lip-lock with me, his hands earnestly working on something to do with a hook-and-eye contraption somewhere between my shoulder blades, and what should come on the radio but "Smoke on the Water." And he, being the sort of young man who imagined he would some day be a rock star, began to "air guitar" the tune on my torso.

In other words, he was no longer paying exclusive attention to me.

My nose out of joint, I got out of the car and walked the mile and a quarter home in a huff.

I blame the song.

So, if anybody tells you that Rock and Roll music leads to sexual congress among teens, you may cite this story as evidence to the contrary. "Smoke on the Water" could cost you even a friendly grope in the back seat of a '71 Chevy.

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