What Makes “Child In Time” By Deep Purple So Timeless
Most people who hear the name Deep Purple immediately think of their signature song “Smoke on the Water” but for those who have appreciation for other gems in their catalogue, they will most likely remember this 1970 masterpiece “Child in Time”. It was featured in their fourth studio album “Deep Purple in Rock”. It’s a fan favorite and it became a staple in their concert repertoire no matter what the lineup.
Loosely based on the Cold War, Ian Gillan once shared:
“It was 1969 and the band was rehearsing at a Community Centre in West London; it was either Southall or Hanwell. Jon Lord was dicking around (or ‘extemporising on a theme’ as it’s known in the trade) with a tune from the new album by It’s a Beautiful Day; it was ‘Bombay Calling’. I started singing and the words came easily because we were all aware of the nuclear threat which hovered over us at this time which was probably when the ‘cold war’ was at its hottest.”
Running over 10 minutes, it showcased the band’s virtuosity and musical brilliance. Interestingly, it’s also one of the last songs where guitarist Ritchie Blackmore used his Gibson ES-335 before trading it with Fender Stratocasters.
The Band At Its Absolute Best
There’s always that one track that helped an artist stand out from the rest. For Deep Purple, it’s this. From the blistering guitar solo to Gillan’s powerful high-pitched screams, this highlighted every member’s mastery of their musical instrument – Blackmore, Jon Lord, Ian Paice, and Roger Glover.
Their protest song eventually went on to become a heavy metal anthem – setting the template for other bands that followed them.
But the question remains: how did it manage to transcend time and generation? How did it become an instant classic and in a way, helped elevate Deep Purple to rock god status?
Ian Gillan perfectly answered that in an interview:
“There are two sides to that song – the musical side and the lyrical side. On the musical side, there used to be this song ‘Bombay Calling’ by a band called It’s A Beautiful Day. It was fresh and original, when Jon was one day playing it on his keyboard. It sounded good, and we thought we’d play around with it, change it a bit and do something new keeping that as a base. But then, I had never heard the original ‘Bombay Calling’. So, we created this song using the Cold War as the theme, and wrote the lines ‘Sweet child in time, you’ll see the line.’ That’s how the lyrical side came in. Then, Jon had the keyboard parts ready and Ritchie had the guitar parts ready. The song basically reflected the mood of the moment, and that’s why it became so popular.”
It remains influential. In fact, Metallica’s Lars Ulrich revealed that this is one of his favorite songs and that when his father took him to a Deep Purple concert, it changed his life. He told Rolling Stone about “Child in Time”:
“This is their most iconic moment. “I’ve heard it 92,000 times, and it never sounds anything less than great.”
And yes, we couldn’t agree more.