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In Haiku
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No, this is not a long lost show from the 1972 Made In Japan tour. It is the work of Garry Smith, one of The Highway Star's favourite word smiths (quiet at the back!). One dark night - perhaps so dark as to be called black - he came up with the eclectic approach of reviewing all of Deep Purple's studio albums in short poems composed after the Japanese haiku tradition, in which a poem consists of 17 syllables, in a 5-7-5 arrangement. Garry insists haiku isn't his usual writing style (though we have our doubts), so haiku aficionados should please forgive any liberties he has taken with the style. (See Garry's notes on haiku)

Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together, please - Garry Smith's Deep Purple In Haiku

Shades of Deep Purple
Powerful debut -
though was it pop, rock or prog?
With a top five smash.

The Book Of Taliesyn
Growing ambitions.
You'd need a large freezer for
three hundred salmon.

Deep Purple
Blind Rosemary and
April; tantalising hints
of what might have been.

In Rock
Primal energy.
Forget all that was before -
a new beginning.

Patchwork creation.
My first Deep Purple album -
Still my favourite.

Machine Head
Smoke on the water,
caught and stilled in cold hotel -
and now immortal.

Who Do We Think We Are?
A band in decline.
Depression, venom and spite
arise from burn-out.

Two voices on song,
New approach with blues and synths.
Glenn Hughes wrote it all!

Acclaimed by critics,
Rock gives way to mellow songs.
Ritchie gives way too.

Come Taste The Band
Good but not inspired.
Using new blood only helped
to postpone the end.

Perfect Strangers
The second coming!
Too many expectations -
just one classic track.

House Of Blue Light
Guitar takes over,
and vocalist is struggling.
Blue light dims to black.

Slaves And Masters
Good Rainbow album -
clever songs, well-played and sung.
Just not Deep Purple.

The Battle Rages On
Twenty years later,
decline again obvious.
Very depressing.

Rough cut gem, twelve-faced,
sparking light all ways and shades.
Another debut.

Heavy, lump of lead.
Sullen, doesn't sound like fun.
Surely not the last?

Notes on haiku

Haiku poems consist of three units of 5, 7 and 5 syllables, respectively. There is some debate over exactly what is a syllable in English, but, each of the poems above has three lines of 5-7-5 syllables as spoken by me! No doubt I've broken the rules by running some of my "units" over more than one line.

A haiku poem should be an observation, a snapshot, a distillation of a moment in nature. It is not a story, and it should not have a conclusion. Its characteristics should include simplicity of language, directness of communication, rhythm but not rhyme, and the absence of a narrator. A title is unnecessary.

Given that I was writing album reviews, it was impossible to adhere to these 'rules', although I have tried as much as possible to do so.

One rule which I did break was that one shouldn't use metaphor. The idea that Purpendicular is like an irregular multi-faceted sparkling gem whereas Abandon is a sinister dark and dense lump, came to me a few years ago, and I find it difficult to think of them in any other way now. In any case, irregular gems and lumps of dark minerals occur naturally, so I'd argue that these haikus are indeed 'moments in nature'.

Each haiku must contain a kigo, a season word, which indicates the season in which the haiku is set. There are thousands of words which can be used - books of season words are published. For example, cherry blossoms indicate spring, snow indicates winter, and mosquitoes indicate summer.

However, the season word need not always be obvious. In each poem I have tried to use a season word or phrase (such as "debut", "growing", "decline", and "second coming") which is appropriate to the stage of the band's development and lifetime.

The one exception is for Machine Head, in which the season word "cold" simply refers to the fact that it was cold in Switzerland in December! Maybe "immortal" is actually the season word there... That poem is also the only one which directly quotes any of DP's songs - if there's one song for which an exception can be made, it's that one.

Hope you enjoyed them.

Garry Smith

Proudly edited by Rasmus Heide


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