I'm Gonna Get Me A Gun

Album: Matthew And Son (1967)
Charted: 6

Songfacts®:

  • Here we have a lighthearted song about getting a gun and taking out all the people who put you down. The whimsical, almost circus-like orchestral arrangement makes it pretty clear there are no sinister intentions.

    Stevens wrote "I'm Gonna Get Me A Gun" for a musical about Billy The Kid that was never produced. It is noteworthy that in the late '60s and early '70s, gun-toting revenge fantasies such as the Death Wish series gained great popularity. This is partly attributable to the Baby Boomers, who having lived in a vacuum of free love and communes through the '60s, began to settle down, get jobs, and suddenly own property, at which point they saw the value of defending it. Stevens though, was based in London and more influenced by musical theater, where violence was ameliorated through dancing and song.
  • The promotional poster for this song showed Stevens holding a six shooter and wearing a cowboy hat, a visual he used when he performed the song on tour in March and April of 1967 when he was an opening act for the Walker Brothers. That tour also featured Engelbert Humperdinck and, on their first major trek, The Jimi Hendrix Experience.
  • This was Cat Stevens' third single, following "I Love My Dog" and "Matthew And Son." All three were released when he was just 18, and all made the charts in his native UK. Unlike his first two singles, which reached #118 and #115 in America, "I'm Gonna Get Me A Gun" wasn't issued there.
  • Stevens enjoyed his newfound fame around this time a little too much; he got tuberculosis in 1968 and had to shut down for about nine months. When he returned to action, it was with a more expansive worldview and an insatiable curiosity that led to songs about nature and the meaning of life. It killed in America, where his Tea For The Tillerman album was huge in 1971, putting him in the same ranks as acclaimed young singer-songwriters like James Taylor and Carole King.

    Stevens spiritual quest led him to Islam in 1977, when he embraced the faith and changed his name to Yusuf Islam. He didn't make any more pop music, but after a while he did start performing his old hits like "Peace Train" and "Moonshadow." But he stayed away from "I'm Gonna Get Me A Gun."
  • According to the book Sociology in Perspective by mark Kirby, this is one of the songs banned from the radio by the BBC during the Gulf War. A song about guns is likely to cause controversy, but not likely to encourage actual violence. Michael Moore's 2002 documentary Bowling for Columbine examines the American fascination with guns, and counters all the media speculation of the effects of music and video games on the perpetrators of the Columbine high school massacre by suggesting that maybe a culture steeped in violence with guns and ammunition readily available everywhere had something to do with it.

Comments: 3

  • Parker Gabriel from Philadelphia, P.a.This selection was written, composed, and initially released in the 1960s, and it predated the problem of workplace violence by several decades.
  • Volker from Hamburg"I'm Gonna Get Me a Gun" was covered by the British hard rock band "Dirty Tricks" in 1975 (available on Spotify) and the British rock band "The Jeevas" in October, 2003 (available on Youtube).
  • Volker from HamburgAnother song that Cat Stevens wrote for the musical about Billy the Kid was "Northern Wind".
    That's why the song is sometimes called "Northern Wind (Death of Billy the Kid)". It first appeared on Cat Stevens' second LP "New Masters" in December 1967.
    The gun that is talked about in "I'm Gonna Get Me a Gun" reappears in the lyrics:
    "And with this gun goes everything I want to say
    Not for you, but for anyone who takes it away
    Let it fill his life, life, life until there's nothing left
    Let it kill his wife, wife, wife until he goes to bed"
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