Frontman Dan Reynolds has had problems dealing with guilt for most of his life. His insistent questioning and worrying was both the inspiration for this song and the title of Imagine Dragons' second album. He told The Sun: "I have always dealt with a guilt complex since I was really young. That is something that follows me round for whatever reason."
"So Smoke and Mirrors is also about trying to learn to love myself and be okay with not knowing the answers to everything," Reynolds added. "I envy some of my friends who seem to be able to just let things go and are easy."
"One of the reasons we called the whole album Smoke and Mirrors is that I wrote the album track while I was on the road when I was feeling like everything, my whole belief system and whole way of thinking, had crumbled to the ground," he continued. "I felt like everything that I really believed was smoke and mirrors, not a solid foundation. I've been going through this process of rebuilding myself."
The phrase "smoke and mirrors" refers to the obscuring or embellishing of the truth with misleading or irrelevant information. The allusion is to the smoke and mirrors used my magicians to create an illusion. The term was popularized by newspaper columnist Jimmy Breslin in his 1975 book How the Good Guys Finally Won, Notes from an Impeachment Summer. He wrote:
All political power is primarily an illusion… Illusion. Mirrors and blue smoke, beautiful blue smoke rolling over the surface of highly polished mirrors, first a thin veil of blue smoke, then a thick cloud that suddenly dissolves into wisps of blue smoke, the mirrors catching it all, bouncing it back and forth.
Kid Rock's "All Summer Long" is a mashup of "Werewolves Of London" and "Sweet Home Alabama." The album it came from was released in October, 2007, but they held off until summer, 2008 for a more seasonable release.