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Happiness Is A Warm Gun by The Beatles

Album: The White AlbumReleased: 1968
  • The title came from an article in a gun magazine John Lennon saw. "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" was the slogan of the National Rifle Association. It struck Lennon as "fantastic, insane… a warm gun means you've just shot something."
  • This complicated song, which involved various different time signatures, (the 6/8 middle section was made more convoluted by Ringo continuing to drum in 4/4), took 15 hours and over 100 takes to nail. The first half of one take was combined with the second half of another to form the complete song.
  • Like the composer Wagner, Lennon felt that a song must have increasing excitement, climax and redemption. The song is built from pieces of several different little songs, with different melodies and rhythms, and one after another, the excitement is increasing. The climax is the falsetto, and finally the redemption is in the continuing call and answer.
    When The White Album was released in 1968, it was not commonly known that Lennon was a composer, as many people thought that he was only a lyric writer. After The Beatles broke up, their individual songwriting contributions were revealed in greater detail. (thanks to Johan Cavalli, who is a music historian in Stockholm)
  • Lennon said of this song: "It's sort of a history of rock 'n' roll." Much of the imagery in the lyrics is about his sexual passion for Yoko.
  • Lennon considered this one of his favorites. It's also Paul McCartney's favorite song on The White Album.
  • In the last section of the song, the backing vocals are "Bang, Bang, Shoot, Shoot." (thanks, Dan - Riverside, CT)
  • A popular theory is that Lennon meant for this to be a drug metaphor for doing heroin:
    -"Needing a fix"
    -"Jump the gun" meaning to cook it up
    -"Bang, Bang, SHOOT, SHOOT"
    -"When I hold you in my arm, nobody can do me no harm" - heroin addicts tell how when you're on it, nothing can do you no harm and Lennon's overall nature seem to point to this. (thanks, Matt - Edgewood, KY)
  • This was banned by the BBC for sexual symbolism. They thought the gun was a phallic symbol.
  • The original line "When I hold you in my arms and feel my finger on your trigger..." appears in unreleased, bootlegged versions of "I'm So Tired" as "When I hold you in your arms, when you show me each one of your charms, I wonder should I get up, and go to the funny farm." This could mean the line was originally sexual but was put in as a metaphor for a gun later on. (thanks, Conrad - Los Angeles, CA)
  • The final Doo-Wop chorus of this song has the exact same chord progression as "This Boy," just in a different key.
  • Tori Amos covered this on her 2001 album Strange Little Girls. All the songs on the album were written by men - Amos took on different characters to interpret them from a woman's point of view. Yoko Ono had to approve this, and she did.
  • The Breeders covered this on their 1990 album Pod. (thanks, Melissa - Madrid, IA)
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Comments: 130

The top list that Ivan posted is somewhat wierd. Does it mean people's taste changed?Steve - Guangdong, China
What does it mean that Cynthia is a lizard?Ivan - Zagreb, Croatia
These are the top fourteen songs voted 2012 by MOJO readers and Beatles fans. Hapiness Is a Warm Gun is no 4:
1. Tomorrow Never Knows
2 Hey Bulldog
3. Rain
4. Happiness Is a Warm Gun
5. And Your Bird Can Sing
6. For No One
7. Dear Prudence
8. It´s All Too Much
9. Long Long Long
10.I´m Only Sleeping
11.You Know My Name
12.Helter Skelter
13.I Want You
14.She Said She Said

That is 10 Lennon, 2 McCartney and 2 Harrison
Johan - Stockholm, Sweden
"It's sort of a history of Rock 'n' Roll." As John said. But now I think I would change what I said before about the 'unconcious art' for 'artistic unconcious' (or something), because it is very different to say that something is a product of unconscious art and another to say that art is a product from the unconscious, or is unconscious art is quite different from artistic unconscious, right?Luis Cesar - Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
I agree with many of the comments written here, especially those written by James. However, there was one aspect that I think nobody here picked. It is very clear to me that the Mother Superior was not just a reference to Yoko. It is easy to understand the context of this lyric. In general, people were influenced by the sale of the image of Yoko as if she were a witch. Often it is interpreted, all the unconscious art of John, as a result of this media onslaught against Yoko. It seems to me that the Mother Superior is a reference to religion, the British monarchy and all the hypocrisy of sex education given to women in the religious context. Thinking in this direction helps us to understand John out of the cliché of a drug addict who wanted to die, when here is a direct reflection of how he was leaving all this s--t etc..Luis Cesar - Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Damn...gets better every time I listen to it! Great song:)Megan - Stevenson, Al
Who cares what the song is about?! REALLY?! It's just a great song!Megan - Stevenson, Al
OK, the third part and last is obviously about guns. John is singing this part with a definite american accent. But it's not just about a person holding a pistol in his/her hand, but a big arm such as a machine gun that needs to be held with both arms. Like a marine scaring the s**t out a poor Iraki woman with it's 50mm machine gun.
Why can't the figurative expression "I NEED A FIX" also refer to having a strong drink ? Sort of a picker upper.
John sings entirely the part MOTHER SUPERIOR JUMPS THE GUN. Over-layered voices. One, an octave higher. Brilliant composition.
Jorge - Oakland, Ca
a syringe full of heroin is(if you are doing it right )quite warm after use) having injected myslef stupid with every drug that is water soluable i can certainly pick up on drug references and this is one of them personally i believe that the song is about a dark period of this life where he was addicted to heroin had been in a bad relationship and had become somewhat bitter about where his life had taken him regardless of wether or not he got the title from a gun magazine this song is about addiction the rest of the lyrics are mataphorical and refer to specific problems he was having at the time and that a shot of heroin would be the only thing that would make him feel happiness in the face of all the bad situations he faced during that ime period i may be wrong about all that but one thing i know i right about is that happiness is a warm gun is a reference to injecting heroin or some other opioidDick - Anusville, Hi
I read in "Rolling Stone" about 1970 that John said the line "Happiness is a warm gun" came out of John's horror about the American love of guns and gun violence, and that he had actually read the line in an american gun magazine, and found it utterly amazingly horrifying. For years, that's how I heard the song.

Then someone pointed out the sexual aspects of the song, and I heard it that way.

Later another person pointed out the drug references, and I heard it that way.

Clearly, the song has at least three layers of meaning, probably more. Perhaps infinitely more.

I agree with ben russell that we cannot know what John "really" meant, because John isn't here to give any definitive, final, answer. Sadly, he died a victim of gun violence just about thirty years ago, now.

Perhaps the meaning is not really in the song, but rather in the ear of the person who hears the song. The essence of art is that it evokes different meanings in different people. The song remains a great song because of its ambivalence, its ability to be heard differetly, depending on the person, and the differing social, emotional, and cognitive contexts within which the song can be heard.
Richard - Berkeley Springs, Wv
Listen, most of you are blind. If you knew something about John, youd know he experimented with heroin. How is this not about drugs? "I need a fix cause Im going down" The warm gun is a needle, he says "when I hold you in my arm, and i feel my finger on your trigger, I know nobody can do me no harm." Cmon people, get with it.Dan - New York, Ny
Yes this does contain a polyrhythm. This also has four contrasting sections in less than three minutes.Giovanni - Lynhurst, Nj
What I love most about this one is how it defies normal song structure.It has some really cool changes.One of the best White Album songs.Dane - Lima,ohio, Fl
From 1:49 onward, the bass guitar takes on an odd characteristic, as if two basses were playing together slightly detuned. This is likely the tuba -- said to be mixed out -- that was part of the session.Rick - Memphis, Tn
Good song, but man it's so dirty! I mean just hearing this song now makes me burst out giggling, just because of how wrong it all sounds, though if you wanna do a dirty song, this was done quite nicely.Breanna - Henderson, Nv
YOu got to love John's songs. They deal with real issues compared to Paul's"happy songs". Don't get me wrong, I love him both. I can just relate to John more, you can feel his emotions thru song..you pick "Martha My Dear", I pick "Happiness is A Warm Gun"..Jim - Long Beach, Ca
i did a paper on this song 4 school, and talked about how john was f---ing with pple who read 2 much into his lyrics, so he made super obvious heroine refences from phrases that he didnt write (like how he got the tittle from a magazine) so people would say its about heroin, when infact its about nothingNick - Seattle, Albania
For all the Heroin junkies trying to justify their habit with The Beatles, get lost. That is not at all what The Beatles were about; it was only after he got together with Yoko that she got him to try it. First off Lennon just experimented with it. He would snort it, not inject it. In an interview about "Cold Turkey" he told the interviewer how the thought of sticking a needle in his arm made him nauseous. And for the record the famous line "When I hold you in my 'arm'" has been wrongfully herd. Listen to a stereo version of it, best on headphones, and you CLEARLY hear "arms", a clear Z sound after arm (1:52).James Tanglewood - Chicago, Il
my favorite line in this song is: "she's well aquaited with the touch of the velvet hand like a lizard on a windowpane"Frank - Granchester Meadows, Greenland
My favorite song from the White Album. I love John's messy delivery in this song, the lyrics are to die for.Theresa - Murfreesboro, Tn
This song means exactly what it says. Is there anything wrong with that? Most words have more that one meaning. This song has many meanings, but all of them are written out for you. Deep stuff.Dix - Kohler, Wi
the way i see it, we'll never know EXACTLY what it means, because it doesnt mean EXACTLY anything- whenever you get this deep, nothing's exact anymore, its just a string of imagery that could be interpreted a varity of ways, and the only thing that stays the same from person to person is the general theme, the feeling you get from the magic of the lyrics. john always got a kick from messing with people's heads, and you could see that in all of his songs; it was about how the person hearing it interpreted it. the way i see it, he's talking about how people are never truly happy. even the most successful or rich or "happy" people in the world can still feel unhappy,*shes well acquainted with the touch of the velvet hand; lying with his eyes while his hands are busy working overtime* and about this person's decline. *i need a fix cause im going down* i also hear the line "happiness is a warm gun" as a way of sort of mocking how people perceive happiness- often, it's getting exactly what you want that ends up being your own warm gun.Chloe - St. Louis, Mo
3 people story.
1) Cynthia (as the lizard)
2) John himself and his troubles with the heroin
3) Yoko (as mother superior)
John was much an lsd addict than heroin, in fact he was afraid of the needles.
The chorus is a response to evertything:
a) The brilliant and insane phrase of the gun magazine
b) His fight against the heroin
c) Sex with Yoko.
He wasn't square, means all of this.
Diego - Bs. As., Argentina
The I-vi-IV-V chord progression can be found in almost every doo wop oldie ever recorded.G - Potomac, Md
One of the few real examples of polyrhythm in rock. What most people call polyrhytm (Whipping Post, The Eleven, etc.) is actually compound meter. Other examples I can think of offhand are Limelight and Toad of the Short Forest. Way to go Beatles.G - Potomac, Md
This song uses a Balkan Rhythm and a Polyrhythm in the same song.Modernrocker79 - Kearny, Nj
PJ from Glasgow: That's quite a clever observation.Roy - Granbania, Ma
I wouldn't change this song a bit. It's yet another one of Lennon's masterpieces. He's got to be one of the best singer/songwriters of all time.Roy - Granbania, Ma
if you reverse this song, it says "hey mum was a sandy bag" a few times, which is apparently the line "happiness is a warm yes it is."Cory - Melbourne, Australia
It was a joke. John was taking the mickey as he often did.Rupert - Mexico, Mexico
Usually I try to give The beatles the benefit of the doubt when discussing whether or not one of there songs is "filthy" or not...but this one is all about sex & drugs. even worse, it's about sex with Yoko. haha it's still a very good song though.Rosario - Naples, Fl
This is just a theory of mine, perhaps foolish, but I'm a fool... I feel this song is very sensual. I hear Lennon was very adventorous with his love life. I think this song is capable of arousing some. In my mind, I think this song is about masturbating a woman. "She's well acquainted with the touch of the velvet hand", "I'm going down", and "Happiness is a warm gun" gun meaning clit. It is funny the in the background you hear "bang, bang"... I know I'm way off, but I feel that that is a big part of an artist's life is to let people have their own interpatations.Melvin - Los Angeles, Ca
To 'donate something to the National Trust' is a common phrase in England for flushing solid waste down the toilet.Jeff - Austin, Tx
The book TICKET TO RIDE by Denny Somach (and co-authors) includes an interview with Beatles PR man Derek Taylor, who said John Lennon asked Derek and friends to shout out random things. Lennon then put some of them in this song. Taylor explained the references. Taylor had just rejoined the Beatles after working in Los Angeles, so he said "a lizard on a window pane" was a very L.A. image. The following lines were from newspaper accounts: "The man in the crowd with the multicolored mirrors on his hobnail boots" refers to a perverted man who attended soccer matches with mirrored boots that reflected what was up women's dresses. "Lying with his eyes while his hands are busy working overtime," refers to another man who would place fake plastic hands on public counter tops and with his real hands would pick the pockets of the people standing at the counter beside him. "A soap impression of his wife which he ate and donated to the National Trust" refers to a man pooping what he ate in a public park. "National Trust" was the name of the English national park system, and Derek said it was not uncommon in England to step in people's poop when walking through public parks in England.Susan - Toronto, Canada
I am a heroin addict this song is not about sex or Gun violence

We call a rig (syringe ) a gun because you shoot the heroin into your arm.

For us the heroin is Happiness it's the only thing that makes it better
"Mother superior " is a house in London that sells Brown(heroin)
" I need a fix because I'm going down" Meaning he's sick and needs a shot for him to feel better

Its called reading through the lines People
Robyn - San Antonio, Tx
Come on... I need a fix cause I'm going down. If that doesn't have drug written all over it then was does.Erica - Barrington , Il
The "Hands" working overtime in this song are field hands who have to work too hard ploughing the fields and tending to the animals while the master is lazy and stays in bed and does nothing. John Lennon describes how the workers help the institution thrive and the leaders do nothing. That's why John Lennon is a communist. Vote Ron Paul.Johnny - Los Angeles, Ca
This song and "I'm so tired" are my two favourite songs from the white album. This is my second favourite album behind Abbey Road. Imagine if "Hey Jude" and "Revolution" were on the album. I dont like the "Revolution 1" version on the album. It just doesnt match the single version.Lachlan - Stonewall, Canada
It's not about drugs, and it's not about sex either. And the fact that this was actually used in a Michael Moore documentary about the Columbine shootings is, well...very disturbing and ironic.Peter Griffin - Quahog, Ri
James KS "The National Trust" isn't all the people in England, fans, Joycesque?? etc but a charity that cares for old buildings, works of art.
Lots of people donate to this charity when they die leaving more valuable things than soap impressions. A quite common saying is " To Donate to the National Trust"
Ed - Deal, England
One of the 5 best Beatles songs and one of the very best off the White Album.Peter Griffin - Quahog, Ri
The gun isn't a penis, it's a real gun. He's describing the feeling you get when you fire a gun.Peter Griffin - Quahog, Ri
James,this song had drug meanings,I nedd a fix cause I'm going down, he was into heroin for a short time during this period,and the sexual references of When I feel my finger on your trigger,and The Happiness is a warm *gun* meaning phallic,were about his new lover Yoko not Cynthia! His relationship with Cynthia was already over when he wrote and recorded this song!Lucyinthesky - Philadelphia, Pa
"A soap impression of his wife which he ate and donated to the National Trust."- This line makes no sense. Why would he eat soap? And how could he donate it-he ate it? What could this line mean?Peter Griffin - Quahog, Ri
yea, Matthew from Shrewsbury, UK is correct...think about it. "When i feel my finger on your trigger..." its sex.Amber - Phily, Pa
the song is clearly referring to heroin. The first part is a very gloomy, depressing part, with john claiming he needs a fix, the way a heroin addict would be feeling w/o it in his system. The second part of the song speeds up, to resemble him injecting it into his system, and the 3rd part is a very beautiful part, while it is praising that nothing can do him no harm when he is finally high on heroinJeff - Charlotte, Nh
okay, whoever said that they are saying "a penis is a warm gun" is like really stupid... the song was only titled "HAPPINESS IS A WARM GUN" gaw people.Anna - Paris, Tx
NO! happiness is Ringo Starr!Krista - Elyria, Oh
Alot of the belief in the heroin reference was due to the hypodermic visual of when I hold you in my arm (not arms) and a real gun would of course be held in the hand.Wayne - Edgewater, Md
when I first heard happiness is a warm gun, I had vivid thougts of what the song meant. it's like trying to discover if there are subliminal messages on it. a plot to kill somebody or the wanting to have sex with somebody.were my first assumtions. but the fact of not being so sure made me listen to it more effectively and constenly to find a meaning.
it's like learning a new language in a fun sense.
Sara - Flint, Mi
If this song sounds a bit odd or off it's because the song has multiple meter changes and unusual time signatures and the tune is in three different sections in less than three minutes.Joe - Montvale, Nj
This song uses a polyrhythm and it's a multipart song and has a very distorted guitar sound combined with doo wop with some very intresting lyrics another great song.
Sal,Bardonia, NY
Sal - Bardonia , Ny
okay, theres a lot of imagery here

heroin: the velvet hand, a lizard on a window pane, both very warm fuzzy comforting objects like a heroin high. -- whe i hold you IN MY ARMS and ...finger...trigger, nobody can do me no harm.
i need a fix is a little obvious so it could have other meanings

but then again im being over analytical, it could be about a suitcase he found in an attic

c'mon sexy sadie is about the bloody maharashi
Bob - Van City, Canada
i had this album a while but i first heard this song yesterday and now i cant get enoughBen - Cincinnati, Oh
The song is about a man with a gaping hole in his soul. He proclaims, "I need a fix", but he doesn't have any dope so he tries to stave off the intense craving by having sex, but that leaves him feeling empty so he shoots himself and, being dead, is finally peaceful and happy. It was a prophetic song (see Kurt Cobaine).Zoloft - Milton, Wv
This song is totally about power-trips at other people's expense, including Lennon's own at us not being able to understand it all, and this guy-James, Capernaum, KS. But I reckon "the man in the crowd" is taking advantage of the girl, someone is probably doing drugs, and someone is definitely feeling invincible after the double/triple entendre "bang bang, shoot shoot." Superior is key word here...Gerard - Honikiwi, New Zealand
Congratulations Dan of Riverside, CT you can listen to music and identify what words are being said. Seriously how can that be considered a serious fact?Mac - Atlanta, Ga
I love this song! Those "Bang Bang Shoot Shoot"s cointerpointing John as he's testifyin' just slay me! Absolutely hilarious! Woulda made a great video! I can see 'em now, doing this song at a huge NRA rally or something (quick shot of Charlton Heston fuming at the spectacle being played out onstage). I feel quite sure that most of the people assembled at the rally would have no doubt as to the meaning of this song and would (quite rightly) be offended. They were being made fun of. And quite viciously! (But, from where I stand, it's still hilarious)!Joe - Lethbridge, Canada
Radiohead wrote a song similar to this, called "Paranoid Android" on their 1997 album, OK Computer. When they wrote the song, they wrote it with "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" in mind.Joe - Baltimore, Md
In the book, The Beatles anthology, John Lennon reveals that this song is not and extended metaphor symolising heroin, but it is a story of three people. the first section is about "A Dirty Old Woman." the second, "The Junkie." and the third, he writes, "The gunman. a satire of 50's R+R." he obviously means rock and roll. in the book, they show the paper that he wrote the lyrics on, then brackets showing which section is designated to which character. any other interpretation, is merely a theory. although i love James from Kansas' million-word-paragraph, it comes off as slightly assumptious.Jacob - Waterford, Ct
Conrad wrote,

One of filthiest Beatles songs (More references to sex and drugs than any other song)
- Conrad, Los Angeles, CtA

A good ditty by Lennon. I liked it ...still do and see no filth in it. I got that Album for Christmas. Ahhh..those were the days.
Greg - Victoria, Canada
hobnail boots are an actually kind of boot, www.google.com...Jack Warren - Rochester, Ny
I'm not sure but I think on his hobnail boots means taken aback, like back on your heels.Michael - Brooklyn, Ny
urr...To James who wrote the fifteen page analysis of this song: John Lennon didn't write his songs as a bit by bit allegory to his own life, subconsciously or no. He often mocked people who read into his songs too much, hence, I am the Walrus. Some lyrics he wrote for the fun of it, for not everything has to have a deep meaning to it. Enjoy it as a whole, don't study it, I'm sure that's the way he would have preferred.Jack Warren - Rochester, Ny
from a random web page (If it's not about Heroine, why did you put "I need a fix cause I'm going down" smack in the middle of the song??):

PAUL 1968: "The idea of 'Happiness Is A Warm Gun' is from an advert in an American paper. It said, Happiness is a warm gun, and it was 'Get ready for the long hot summer with a rifle,' you know, 'Come and buy them now!' It was an advert in a gun magazine. And it was so sick, you know, the idea of 'Come and buy your killing weapons,' and 'Come and get it.' But it's just such a great line, 'Happiness Is A Warm Gun' that John sort of took that and used that as a chorus. And the rest of the words... I think they're great words, you know. It's a poem. And he finishes off, 'Happiness Is A Warm Gun, yes it is.' It's just good poetry."


JOHN 1972: "They all said it was about drugs, but it was more about rock 'n roll than drugs. It's sort of a history of rock 'n roll... I don't know why people said it was about the needle in heroin. I've only seen somebody do something with a needle once, and I don't like to see it at all."


JOHN 1980: "A gun magazine was sitting around and the cover was the picture of a smoking gun. The title of the article, which I never read, was 'Happiness Is a Warm Gun.' I took it right from there. I took it as the idea of happiness after having shot somebody. Or some animal."
Kostya - Berkeley, Ca
Sorry, a typo or two...I wrote John was someone to hide his opinions, and he's definitely not!

A couple spelling errors, apologies!
Shannon - Huntington, Ny
Yeah....I think people look into these songs way too much and end up making it something it's not....You have to look at the The Beatles in perspective, and their styles of songwriting...given, towards the ending section of their careers, their style was becoming more and more cheeky and playful...However, I think it was a personal preference and style of John's to add some naughty bits and give a clear theme, because, as I'm sure many of you fans know, John was someone to particularly hide his opinions or turn them into riddles.....That being said, I think people look way into too much into this, ie the line by line analysis, because if you're really going to try and dissect this song, look into this song through this eyes of the author. I'm nto [particularly confident with any of the different themes and symbols I find when reading the lyrics, so I can't comment on what I think it's about....But, with the sexual and drug reference, I think it is a veyr well written piece, written by someone who always loved getting a rise out of people and challenging their thinking and emotional comfort zones, by writing about sex and drugs.Shannon - Huntington, Ny
James interpretation makes sense but i think he's reading way to much into it.Daniel - Cincinnatti, Or
Derek Taylor, the press agent for The Beatles contributed some of the lyrics.Linus - Hamilton, On, Canada
The song probably has multiple meanings, but I think surely herion use. The printed lyrics say "when I hold you in my arms", but as many times as I listen to it it sounds like he sings when I hold you in my armMichael - Brooklyn, Ny
There are definately multiple refferances to the act of fingering a woman: "She's well aquiainted with the touch of a velvet hand", "Lying with his eyes while his hands are busy Working overtime", "When I hold you in my arms And I feel my finger on your trigger" Perhaps the song is metaphoricly compairing addiction to heroin with addiction to a certain type of intimacy with a person?Bob - Fairfax, Va
Btw, what are hobnail boot? Lu Reed mentions them too in a Velvet Underground song "Run Run Run" which is on their Velvet Underground and Nico album.Stefanie - Rock Hill, Sc
If you have listened to "Yer Blues" Johnny (also on the White Album), the lyrics in that song seem to point more to suicide. I see why this one could have some references to that also though.Stefanie - Rock Hill, Sc
I believe this is about sex, with some drugs in their. The rock n' roll lifestyle that John led is poured out in this song. He uses refrences "Happiness is a Warm Gun" and "The man in the crowd with the multi-coloured mirrors on his hobnail boots", to explain this. This isn't about gun-nuts because this song is a lot more deeper then that. Maybe John was contemplating suicide and showing it in this song. I don't know. There might be hints of masturbation and loneliness in this song. Or maybe, like Paul said, it was just stringing words together. It is a awesome fact that Paul said this was his fav song on the White Album. Overall, this is about John beign fed up with the rock n' roll life. "Maybe he also shows it with I'm so tired."Johnny - Los Angeles, Ca
woops "superior" not "beer it". had a song stuck in my head while typing lol. sry about that.Pat - Boston, Ma
It is rumoured that Jim Morrison of the Doors was singing in the "Mothers who beer it jump the gun" section while visiting the studio at the date the section was recorded. Though he is not in records of recording sessions(which were very meticulous), many Beatles experts swear by it and believe he was not in the records because he was there very briefly.Pat - Boston, Ma
Beautiful song. I'm not a fan of all that 'mother superior' stuff, but it makes the end seem all the better. Top three favourite Beatles songs for me.Linus - Hamilton, On, Canada
I Love This song and honestly I don't really care if its about sex , guns, or drugs all I know is I love the way I feel when I listen to it. Thanks Shannon Philadelphia, PAShannon - Philadelphia, Pa
The guitar solo in this song is so heavy and awesome. So is John's screaming in the end "when I hold you, in my arms...etc" Slay me.Meredith - Mechanicsburg, Pa
yeah this is probably one of their most creative songs i think it may be one of my favoritesMatt - Niagara Falls, Ny
What a fun song, what a great lyrics!
John was a genius. It's a song that The four Beatles loved, me too. "Happiness" brings me happiness. And Happiness is a warm gun!
George - Itaberaba, Brazil
The song is still brillian despite what it may or may not mean. The guitar playing is kick ass. Just appreciate the music, don't tear it apart and butcher it. It's one of my favorite songs.Carissa - La Mirada, Ca
One drug reference is when John sings - Like a lizard on a windowpane. Windowpane is a type of LSD/acid.Bill - Southeastern Part Of, Fl
To Scott Baldwin, Edmonton, Canada: Lennon used to refer to Yoko Ono as "Mother Superior." Drugs, sex, as well as masturbation are all themes found in this song. The "multi colored mirrors" were mirrors a man placed on his shoes to look up women's dresses. He was busted when he began masturbating in public.Hank - Hillsborough, Nj
this song is great. I never heard about it until i came here, and i have to admit it's an excellent song. i love the song and i don't care what the meaning of it is :)Arman - San Diego, Ca
Liverpudlians (from Liverpool) tend to drop the H when pronouncing words beginning with H. Hence 'a..penis is a warm gun !! Listen carefully to the backing vocals when they sing that. And oh ..bang bang..shoot, shoot!Pj - Glasgow, Scotland
Used on M.Moore's "Bowling For Columbine"Matt - Monroe, La
thats great, but we don't want a novel. this song is about a fisherman who masters-bait, if u know what i meanSean - Toronto, Canada
In order to fully understand the lyrical genius of someone like John Lennon, it is necessary also to understand the literary works of Lewis Carroll and James Joyce, who were, along with Bob Dylan, his chief influences lyric-wise. Their respective styles, particularly that of Joyce is a difficult mix of puns, double-meanings, and literary allusions, mixed in with idiosyncratic and/or archaic English. Though this song contains little or none of the latter two difficulties, it is still fraught with layers of veiled meaning and tricks designed to prevent the listener from fully comprehending the song's true meaning. Of course, few, if any song-writers will discuss such a thing, usually because their knowledge of psychology is far too limited: Lennon did not realise that all of these feelings were so rooted in his sub-conscious mind that they were capable of releasing themselves through song without his understanding on a conscious, ordinary level. I have devised a system of line-by-line interpretation meant to give the absolute meaning of every aspect of the song's lyrical elements-- the musical side can be discussed elsewhere.

She's not a girl who misses much--

[The first section of the song is about John's first wife Cynthia. Because of the Beatles success, Cynthia was able to have basically anything she wanted-- 'misses much'-- yet, she still complained about wanting more, hence the word 'much'.]


do do do do do do do do

[If John had told her what he thought of her obsession with capital/materialism, she would have made light of his words, telling him not to be so serious.]

She's well acquainted with the touch of the velvet hand,
like a lizard on a window pane

[Cynthia certainly became used to pampered treatment by society in general-- people who may have hated her treated her warmly upon first appearances based upon who she had married/had a child with; the typical gesture of greeting being a hand-shake, and a hand of velvet implies false empathy --. She was fond of such treatment, and she began to play the social games that John detested-- Cynthia's attitude reminded him (subconsciously-- these are lyrics) of a lizard-- think chameleon -- looking out a window, i. e. peering out at reality/nature.]

The man in the crowd with the multicoloured mirrors
on his hobnail boots

[John is now speaking about himself. He saw himself as a stand-out in the crowd, possibly the crowd seen by the 'lizard' from the window. The hob-nail boots represent his foray into psychadelia, a movement that he would-- apart from the music itself he produced during the time period-- later publicly regret his involvement in and even denounce as sloven hypocrisy.]

A soap impression of his wife which he ate
and donated to the National Trust

[He is telling the world the truth about Cynthia with this song-- soap impression: giving a realistic portrait of her psyche meant to cleanse the misapprehensions held by others that she herself invented-- her being an artist, a painter, etc --; he is, in a way, telling the world: "the National Trust"; everyone in England-- his considered audience, for he thought the majority of Americans to be vile, stupid people -- would hear him some way or other, hence "National Trust", a play on words meaning that his fans (foolishly, in his opinion) trusted what he had to say. This has nothing to do with the Joycesque expression related to the less than finer points of human digestion!]

I need a fix 'cuz I'm going down
[In this third section, John is, of course, rather conspicuously alluding to heroin. He must have his fix, as he is beginning to experience the drug's painful withdrawal symptoms.]

Down to the bits that I left uptown

[It is likely that this heroin would have been purchased in up-scale London clubs from the high-class dealers that resided there.]

I need a fix 'cuz I'm going down


Mother Superior--
jump the gun!
Mother Superior--
jump the gun!
Mother Superior--
jump the gun!
Mother Superior--
jump the gun!
Mother Superior--
jump the gun!
Mother Superior--
jump the gun!

[John seems to be somewhat cheekily --at least in print it appears that way -- asking a metaphysical or divine figure of some nature to step in-- "Mother Superior" because of his feminism -- to "jump the gun" as it were, meaning to kill him before he ends up doing it himself.]

Happiness is a warm gun

[John was reading an American magazine-- Life, I believe -- and he came across an advertisement for the National Rifle Association claiming "Happiness is a warm (meaning loaded) gun!". Being an inadvertent pacifist, John was initially disgusted by such a ridiculous notion, until he realised the irony of it: he no longer wanted to live, and the only to way to escape the pain of existance is, of course, to die, and since "Mother Superior" did not intervene and bring the desired oblivion, he realises that he must bring death upon himself, via, perhaps, a weapon-- a gun, which would obviously need to be loaded.]


(Bang, bang-- shoot, shoot!)

[By asking the others to light-heartedly shout "Bang, band-- shoot, shoot!" in the background, John was able to further delude himself into feelings of a suicidal nature, now in possession of the alibi that it would make everyone else in his life much, much happier.]


Happiness is a warm gun
(Bang, bang-- shoot, shoot!)
When I hold you in my arms
(Oh yeah!)
And I feel my finger on your trigger
(Oh yeah!)
I know that nobody can do me no harm
(Oh yeah!)

[Now he is back on the subject of Cynthia. He has also come to realise that, despite their shaky marital status, she would be incredibly upset if he were to die, especially from a self-inflicted gun wound. This allows him to be in control of her emotions: "in my arms"; the trigger bit, is another pun, this time referring to the fact that being master over Cynthia's psyche is a bit like a trigger-- he can make her go off any time he pleases, or he can simply leave her alone-- whatever the case, he knows that by threatening suicide, Cynthia will not dare hurt him again; this makes little or no sense, as he never publicly threatened such actions: he simply wove it all into this brilliant, twisted little ditty.]

Because happiness is a warm gun
(Bang, bang-- shoot, shoot!)
Happiness is a warm gun
--Yes it is.
James - Capernaum, Ks
As I've actually fired guns, I must say there are few things more pleasing than the feeling of holding a warm gun. However, Lennon probably was comparing the sensations of power and protection of guns, to that you feel when you're with someone you know loves you unconditonally.Nathan - Defiance, Oh
How very politically incorrect. But it still sounds cool.Laura - Santa Fe, Nm
The song lyrics definately aren't all about one topic: "Man in the crowd with the multi-colored mirrors on his hog-nail boots" is about something John had read in the paper about a guy putting mirrors on his shoes to see up girls skirts. The line "Happiness is a warm gun" was taken off the cover of a gun magazine, and John thought it was so outrageous he used it for the song.Mike - Ithaca, Ny
I kind of agree with all of your oppinions. I think that the song is about sex and drugs I always heard it was about drugs,but never thought it could have been about sex, but it makes sense. It's easier to tell which lines are the drug references.Stefanie Magura - Rock Hill, Sc
Excellent song. Great time changes all over the place. And the "trigger" makes the song at least as yonic as it is phallic.Nessie - Sapporo, Japan
This is an amazing song. Also, a clip of the "Bang Bang Shoot Shoot" portion of the song is in Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine."Steve - New York City, Ny
A great Lennon song, though I find it depressing.Kenny - Baltimore, Md
John Lennon was a genius. His lyrics are beyond our weak comprehension.Mark - Levan, Ut
It's foolish to try to read too much into Lennon's lyrics and figure them out, because he often mixed expressive personal truth with lyrical nonsense. It's a fact that at this time he was into heroin, and the line "I need a fix 'cause I'm going down" is an obvious heroin reference, but that doesn't mean the song is all about that. Like Dylan, Lennon often made crazy poetic word stories that had no concrete meaning. There's nothing to figure out with such songs, just enjoy them.Henry - Victoria, Canada
I would like to think that this song is about blowing your brains out, but im sure it was twisted in a labyrinth of different meanings (sex, drugs, gun-nuts) and it's really whatever you wan't it to be. That would be straight-up Beatles style.Brandon - Agoura, Ca
In my humble opinion, it is mostly about gun-nuts, although Lennon obviously used some clever word play to indicate drugs and sex.Cerebrus - Silver Spring, Ma
Why do people try to make songs have a reason. Cant music just be a form of expression and its interpretation is entirely different to each individual???Jim - London, England
Paulo has a good point.He only said that a few of the beatle songs are about drugs.Paulo,Im with you.Scott Baldwin - Edmonton, Canada
in my Beatle Fact book it says-
"Happiness is a warm gun" is that John saw the caption on an American friearms magazine shortly after the assassination of Robert F Kennedy, which read "Happiness is a warm gun in your hand." John later remarked, "I thought, what a fantastic, insane thing to say...a warm gun means that youv'e just shot something."
Dean - Raleigh, Nc
Saw an interview where Paul Mccartney taked about a conversation he had with a teenager who had taken a class at summer camp that disscussed Beatle songs. He would tell Paul what the songs meant and then Paul would say "Well actually we just like the way those words sounded together?" The kid kept telling he was wrong.David - Waco, Tx
oh,and I know bangladesh isn't in IndonesiaKarl - Bangladesh, Indonesia
It's essentially three different songs, but in reference to "scott baldwin's" question (second question) , "MOTHER SUPERIOR JUMP THE GUN!waht (sic) does that have to do with drugs?!"
A nun wears a habit, heroin addiction is also known as a habit. There's even a character in "Trainspotting" whom Ewan Macgregor (Ren) says, "... was called Mother Superior on account of the length of his habit. So put that in your crack pipe and smoke it.
Karl - Bangladesh, Indonesia
A penis is a warm gunAnonyme - Berthier, Canada
Uhh This is not about drugs!Or sex! MOTHER SUPERIOR JUMP THE GUN!waht does that have to do with drugs?!Scott Baldwin - Edmonton, Canada
"The man in the crowd with the multi-coloured mirrors on his hobnail boots" is based on a story Lennon read about a bloke who was arrested for wearing mirrors on his boots so he could look up women's skirts! And "donated" to the National Trust" means tha he went for a s--t in the bushesMike - London, England
I think it's one of the heaviest Beatles' songs ever written, besides Helter Skelter. I think the meaning is rather esoteric. John was clever enough to use something that sounded normal, but it had a more tricky meaning underneath.Mike - Jackson, Nj
Can't the song be about what the writer says it's about?Paulo - New York, Ny
I thought it was about the false security of having a gun. Its all about you feeling safe when a gun is in your hands, and feeling satisfaction when you've shot the "offender"Chas - Webster, Ny
I feel this song refers more to a suicidal aspect of the lyrics. The one thing we can control is our own demise. The line "Like a lizard on a window pane" suggests the trapped nature of people. And the line "Lying with his eyes while his hands are busy working overtime" shows the struggle with an inner demon. Just my take on the song, I could be wrong. I think this song is meant to mean something different to different people whether it be drugs, sex, suicide, etc.Heidi - Terre Haute, In
This is probably a heroin song. Like Me and my monkey. Someone with a habit is said to have a monkey. It is obvious with references to a fix, going down, feeling like noone can harm you etc.
Mother Superior is a reference to Yoko. I'm so tired would be the answer to this song as he's hanging out.
Joel - Christchurch
I think it's pretty clearly about sex overall. The gun analogy to a woman's anatomy is pretty clever actually. The trigger is at one end of the gun, and the barrel gets warm when the trigger is pulled repeatedly. The part about needing a fix is probably a drug reference.Brock - Chicago, Il
WoW, a lot of definite opinions on what this song means; sounds like everyone was a close confident of the songwriters. me, i thought it was about the walrus.... thank you for the 411 on Tori's rendition; that whole CD rips....Yo - Honolulu, Hi
Used in the controversial documentary film Bowling for ColumbineIngrid - Huntington, Wv
this is a mean herion song.Marco - Los Angeles, Ca
"When I hold you in my arms, and I feel my finger on your trigger, I know nobody can do no harm...." Lennon was eventually shot.Brett - Edmonton, Canada
John got the title off of the cover of a magazineMarie - Nyc, Ny
The Beatles played with our heads a lot. A lot of their stuff was written with a sly grin for reaction. I do think the trigger is on a very happy woman!Robert - Conyers, Ga
I agree with Marvin, someone sees gun and thinks 'shoot' which would lead to heroin as the only drug where the word 'shoot' is a slang. Read into the many other obscure lyrics before you jump to conclusions.Adam - Beaver Falls, Pa
One of filthiest Beatles songs (More references to sex and drugs than any other song)Conrad - Los Angeles, Ca
A warm gun is a vagina. It's about drugs and sex.Matthew - Shrewsbury, England
Bob your're right - JOHN 1972: "They all said it was about drugs, but it was more about rock 'n roll than drugs. It's sort of a history of rock 'n roll... I don't know why people said it was about the needle in heroin. I've only seen somebody do something with a needle once, and I don't like to see it at all."Stykman - Little River, Sc
Only John knows the meaning behind this song. mabye there isn't one. stop wasting your time trying to find it out. it's just a song (by the best band in the world).Ben Russell - Durham, Nc
Used in the Michael Moore documentary "Bowling For Columbine."Erik - Davis, Ca
This song has many drug references, for example:
"Warm Gun" means a needle used for shooting Heroin,
"A fix" is also refering to the use of Heroin. "I
Need A fix cause' I'm going down" means he is coming
down from his high and needs a fix to get high on
heroin again.
Patrick - Durham, Nc
This song was also covered by the Breeders on their 1990 album Pod.Jenn - Old Orchard Beach, Me
This song was actually three different songs John Lennon had written in India. The first one beigns with the phrase "She's not a girl...", and from there goes to the "Mother Superior jump the gun", and ends with The Beatles singing the title and John Lennons sarcastic tirade about how good it feels to hold a gun. (metopohricly speaking, of course).Chet - Saratoga Springs, Ny