Smoke Gets In Your Eyes — The Platters

No Words, No Song
6 min readJul 16, 2022
Photo by Mulyadi on Unsplash

“Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” was a UK and US Number One hit for The Platters back in 1959. However the song is much older than that, dating back to 1933.

Composed by Jerome Kern, with lyrics by Otto Harbach, “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” was originally written for the stage musical “Roberta”.

No, I’ve never heard of it either, even though I’m a big fan of musicals. But in its day, “Roberta” was a pretty big deal. Bob Hope starred in the Broadway show, as did George Murphy, Ray Middleton and Sydney Greenstreet. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers starred in the movie version.

“Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” is probably the most enduring song from the stage version of “Roberta”, although another Jerome Kern / Otto Harbach song, “I Won’t Dance” was added to the movie version for Fred Astaire to sing, which I’ve linked to below.

It’s also interesting how the metaphor Otto Harbach used almost a century ago is much less applicable nowadays.

Back in the 1930s, plenty of people puffed away on cigarettes and pipes, coal powered factories up and down the land, steam trains belched out clouds of dark smoke as they passed along the track, boats turned the sky black with the soot from their engines as they plied the seven seas.

Yes, there was a lot more smoke about then. Which had its own problems, of course, but made for a convenient excuse when your heart was broken and someone said or did something which made you want to shed a tear.

Of course, shedding tears isn’t where stories like this usually start. Before any heartbreak can happen there has to be an intense love first. Without that intense love, any parting of the ways is, at most, a temporary inconvenience.

They asked me how I knew
My true love was true
Oh, I of course replied
“Something here inside
Cannot be denied”

So we know that the primary requirement for heartbreak is in place already. This is the tale of someone completely besotted by their partner, and utterly absorbed in the dream of them making their life together for ever more.

When your heart hijacks your brain like that, you stop thinking rationally. Any little blemishes in the character of the object of your affection are overlooked. Any…

No Words, No Song

Without words, it’s just a nice tune. Add words — now you’ve got a song. And songs can change your world. I write about some that changed mine.