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The Gun Singer – Songs About Guns for Your Summer Playlist

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It’s still summer so you might be taking some time to kick back on your porch or patio to listen to some music with a cold beer or some lemonade. Recently I’ve been thinking about gun songs, or at least songs with guns in them. That’s right. Songs with guns in them, and I’ve compiled a list. Take a listen, and add to the list in the comment section below.

1. Big Iron, by Marty Robbins, 1959. No one sings a story like Marty Robbins and here we have the tale of an Arizona Sheriff with the Big Iron on his hip who defeats the Texas Red outlaw. It’s a classic.

2. Hey Joe, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, 1968. The incredible guitar work of Jimi Hendrix alone is reason enough to listen to this tune. Here the narrator asks Joe, “Where you goin’ with that gun in your hand?” Joe is going to shoot his old lady. Cuz he caught her messin’ round with another man. Joe plans to commit murder and flee to Mexico. It’s a haunting, tragic song made crazy good by Jimi’s guitar.

3. Don’t Take Your Guns to Town, Johnny Cash, 1958. This song tells the tale of a young cowboy, who, against his mother’s advice, takes his gun to town and dies in a saloon gunfight. Ah… the Man in Black.

4. Happiness is a Warm Gun, The Beatles, 1968. John Lennon was inspired to write the song after seeing the cover of a gun magazine. “It was a gun magazine. I just thought it was a fantastic, insane thing to say. A warm gun means you just shot something,” said Lennon. The gun magazine took the phrase from a book by Peanuts cartoonist Charles M. Schulz called “Happiness is a Warm Puppy.”

5. 16 Shells from a Thirty-ought-six, Tom Waits, 1983. Great American storyteller Tom Waits sings this tale of a farmer who takes his frustration out on a crow. This song has a chain gang, work song feel, with bangs and crashes, made even more surreal by Waits’ growling voice. Waits has fought for most of his career to keep his music from being used in commercials.

6. Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen, 1975. If you don’t have a soft spot for Freddie Mercury, you might want to have your heart checked. And this rock opera is one of the greats featuring a capella voices, an incredible guitar solo and outro, crossing generations and incorporating true talent. It’s a tragic tale of young man on the lam who kills a someone, “puts a gun against his head, pulls the trigger, now he’s dead.” It’s 5 minutes and 55 minutes of time well spent.

7. Lawyers, Guns and Money, Warren Zevon, 1978. Trouble in Cuba? Tell your dad to send lawyers, guns, and money. Warren Zevon’s sense of humor in a critical situation can always be counted upon.

8. Saturday Night Special, Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1975. My first gun was a .38 so I’m partial to this song. Plus Skynyrd is about as American as you can get. This song has been featured on multiple film and television soundtracks, and even on a video game.

What are your favorite songs where guns are centric or even mentioned? I found too many to mention here, like The Clash, The Damned, Aerosmith, and Mission of Burma. Shoot.

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