Meaning of “You Don’t Want That Smoke” by Bailey Zimmerman

Within the timespan of two years, Bailey Zimmerman went from posting his songs on TikTok to being signed by both Elektra Records and Warner Music Nashville, two of the biggest names of the game. 

Shortly thereafter, on 12 May 2023, his debut LP, titled “Religiously. The Album.”, came out. As of this writing a couple of weeks later, it has peaked at number 7 on the Billboard 200, which is a notable accomplishment, though also reportedly set a record as “the biggest streaming country debut of all time”. 

Amongst the 16 tracks found therein is “You Don’t Want That Smoke”, which Zimmerman wrote with Rich 77 and the song’s originators, Jimi Bell and Tucker Beathard.

You Don't Want That Smoke

The Lyrics of “You Don’t Want That Smoke”

As the story goes, Bailey first received a demo of this track in an anonymous text (which turned out to be sent by Jimi Bell) and instantly fell in love with it. And it’s understandable why, as “You Don’t Want That Smoke” features some pretty-clever lyrics.

The title can be taken as a double entendre of sorts. On one hand, as you probably already know, “you don’t want that smoke” is another way of letting a potential adversary know that they don’t really wanna go there. 

For example, the phrase was thrust onto the mainstream consciousness earlier this year when former NFLer Shannon Sharpe got into a public beef with the Memphis Grizzlies and later claimed that “they didn’t want (that) smoke”. And actually, Bailey utilizes the term in that regard also, warning the listener against getting into with the addressee.

“But you don’t want that smoke
The kind that’s in her past
She’ll love you till the filter
And leave you in the ash
Take it secondhand
From a fool who knows
You think you’re just taking a drag
But you’re playin’ with a fire that’ll burn you if you get too close
You don’t want that smoke”

The addressee, by the looks of things, is the sexiest woman in the local bar circuit, albeit a femme fatale.  And the cleverness of this song is manifested in the chorus, whereas the vocalist proceeds to utilize a smoking-related motif to get his point across. 

In other words, the way the addressee hooks her prey, if you will, is by getting them into a casual conversation over a couple of cigarettes. And as Bailey warns, in the process “you think you’re just taking a drag”, i.e. presuming the interaction is harmless. But within her is “a fire that’ll burn… if you get too close”. 

And as implied in the second verse, what that means in context is that she’s the type who plays with men’s hearts, getting them completely vested and then dropping them cold, even leaving some “crazy” in the aftermath. So it’s as if the vocalist is also literally saying “you don’t want that smoke”, as in guys better think twice before even smoking a cigarette with this lady.

But all of that said, she still “got the look”. So by the time all is said and done, the vocalist himself decides to hook up with her, though in the process continuing the naïve dudes who aren’t aware of her style.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may also like...