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Album: Copperhead RoadReleased: 1988
Songwriter Steve Earle is well known as a vocal opponent of capital punishment; running to 3 minutes 1 second, this classic miniature has a message for those who are likely to end up facing it; an attack on what Louis Farrakhan called "the glorification of the gun", it makes the point that though a gun can get you into a lot of trouble, it can't get you out of it.
In the song, the unfortunate storyteller fails to heed his mother's warnings about carrying a pistol, and his youthful fascination ends with him shooting a man dead after being cheated at cards. When the authorities come for him, he protests they have the wrong man because "nothing touched the trigger but the Devil's right hand", which in the 21st
Century would amount to an insanity defense, but would have probably not have swayed a jury in late 19th
Century America wherein this cameo is set.