“Child in Time” by Deep Purple

The official version of Deep Purple’s “Child in Time” is a healthy 10 minutes’ long. But from an actual wording standpoint, the song is pretty terse. And it can be deemed that the “time” being referred to is this modern age we live in whereby the prospect of these all-destructive wars are ever existent. 

Indeed the Cold War, as in a palpable tension between nuclear superpowers (and more specifically the United States and Russia), has more or less been a thing since the close of World War II. But at certain times those tensions were at their peak, and one of those eras was during the 1960s, when there was still a lot of fighting going on around the world in general. 

In fact, it has been put forth that what more specifically inspired this piece was the Vietnam War, which was still ongoing when this track was dropped.

But the lyrics do give the impression that what is being spoken to transcends a single conflict. And reading in-between the lines, what Ian appears to be referring to, most simply put, is how easily, or perhaps we can say questionably things can jump off in this day and age. 

Or put differently, the way “the blind man [is] shooting at the world” these days, it’s as if any of us can wind up in his crosshairs. That is to say that the way modern weapons of war are designed and utilized, even if you aren’t a target, you may find yourself victim to “the ricochet”. 

Or as relayed otherwise, in the grand scheme of things we’ve all “been bad”. Such an assertion reads like a fancy way of saying that once shots are fired, bullets and the like don’t discriminate.

What’s the rationale behind all these conflicts?

So as with any Vietnam-inspired anti-war song worth its salt, what it seems Deep Purple is ultimately getting at is something like questioning the rationale behind these wars. 

That is to say that referring to the powers that be as “the blind man” definitely doesn’t sound like the vocalist has confidence in their decision-making abilities, specifically when it comes to busting shots. 

And at the end of the day, once they do get to fighting, average people such as us are at risk of paying the ultimate price. And that would be an acknowledgement not only of the existence of the likes of nuclear weapons but also the fact that a common theme of 20th century warfare was the large number of civilian casualties that came to be involved.

Lyrics to Deep Purple's "Child in Time"

Deep Purple

Deep Purple is a rock band from London that is still around to this day (the writing of this article). Their most recent album is 2021’s “Turning to Crime”. However, their discography dates all the way back to the late 1960s. It was during the subsequent decade that they experienced their most notable success.

Their first album of the 1970s was a studio LP titled “Deep Purple in Rock”. This was Deep Purple’s breakthrough, marking the first of many times that they appeared on the UK Albums Chart, etc. And it is from that outing that we get Child in Time, which actually ranks as one of the group’s most popular songs. 

When was “Child in Time” released?

“Child in Time” was released in June of 1970 along with its album (“Deep Purple in Rock”). To note this track was not issued as a single but nonetheless is considered a classic by rock enthusiasts.

Considering that this is in fact a rock classic, other renditions of “Child in Time” have made it on a couple of Deep Purple’s live albums, as well as one that the Ian Gillan Band dropped in 1978 called Live at the Budokan. 

But in more recent times, Ian Gillan decided to no longer sing it live. This decision was in part due to how his voice has changed over the decades. The decision was also influenced, according to Roger Glover, by the interpersonal history between some members of the band.

At the time of this track’s issuance, Deep Purple was being held down by these musicians:

  • Ian Gillan (vocalist)
  • Ritchie Blackmore (guitarist)
  • Roger Glover (bassist)
  • Jon Lord (organist)
  • Ian Paice (drummer)

And to note, Deep Purple has gone through a number of membership changes throughout the years. However, the above mentioned quintet is known as the band’s Mark II lineup, which was extant from mid-1969 into mid-1973.

Credits

Gillan, Blackmore, Glover, Lord and Paice are all credited as the writers of “Child in Time”. 

Child in Time

Other Interesting Facts

As of this writing, Gillan, Glover and Paice are still members of Deep Purple. Blackmore ultimately left the band for good in 1993, and Jon Lord, who was also a co-founder, made his way out in 2002.

The organ riff upon which this song is based was derived from a track American rock band It’s a Beautiful Day dropped in 1969 titled “Bombay Calling”. However, this interpolation did not result in a lawsuit or anything like that. Instead, It’s a Beautiful Day then used Deep Purple’s track “Wring That Neck” (1968) as inspiration for their 1970 instrumental “Don and Dewey”.

This song well exceeds 10 minutes in length, thus making it the longest track on “Deep Purple in Rock”.

“Child in Time” is known to have had a particular profound effect on a young Lars Ulrich, who later down the line went on to co-found Metallica, one of the greatest American rock bands of all time.

Notable Covers

In 1976, the Ian Gillan Band performed “Child in Time” for its eponymous album.

Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen released his version in his ninth album, “Inspiration” in 1996.

During a live performance in Buenos Aires on 9th June, 2009, Argentine heavy metal band Rata Blanca and Finnish heavy metal singer Tarja collaborated for their cover.

In Popular Usage

1996 American action/drama movie, “Twister” featured the video clip of “Child in Time” as Dusty (Philip Seymour Hoffman) drives to a twister site with his team.

2002 German epic period mystery-science fiction series, “1899” featured the track in its second episode before the end credits.

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