Sharpshootin' At The Senator

Songfacts®:

  • "Sharpshootin' At The Senator" is exactly what it sounds like: It's a song about assassinating senators. Firefall founding member Larry Burnett explains: "It's sort of me trying to observe something I actually hadn't ever really seen, which was the mind of a guy who would assassinate a political figure. And it's really heavy, hard rock cool, so it's a cool song. We used to play it in person and people would go nuts. We loved playing it. It was intense.

    It's about how a guy could become so unhappy with things. You know, people blame stuff on all kinds of other stuff, they don't take much responsibility. And it's convenient to blame things on the government. And their attitude is, 'My personal problems are because Senator Somebody isn't representing me right, so my family's suffering.' That's where that came from, it was an imagination. It was imagining somebody that unhappy and willing to kill a political figure."
  • Atlantic Records refused to put this song on a record, and Burnett had thought that was due to the touchy subject matter. It wasn't until years later he discovered the real reason:
    "During our recording session I had taken a trip north, visited my mom, brought some of the basic tracks along from the session to play for her and family who live around here. She heard the song, she got very worried. She didn't say anything to me about it, but she heard the song, and she went, 'Ooo. I don't know about that.' She was worried about the impact that a song like that would have on the world and on people, and then how that would reflect on me. I don't think it was dangerous. It was powerful, but not dangerous. I could have been wrong. So here's what my mother does: She - unbeknownst to me - writes a letter to Ahmet Ertegun, the Chairman of the Board of Atlantic Records, and he gets it. And she identifies herself, 'I am Larry Burnett's mother.' It was like a 4-page letter that she went on and on and on about how he might not want this attached to him and his record company. And she made some really good points, actually. So Ahmet and the people at Atlantic are thinking that's a pretty cool song. Bunch of guys, they don't care. But he gets this letter from my mom, he reads it, and he decides at that moment after reading my mom's letter to pull the song from the album. And I find this out 2 years later from our then-manager, who's a friend of mine named Jack Boyle, and he had a copy of the letter. He says, 'Larry, come here. Remember all that grief that Atlantic was giving us about a couple of songs? I want you to read something.' And then I read it and I went, 'Whoa,' and I read the signature at the bottom, and I went, 'Ooohh, this is my mother.' He says, 'Yeah, you know where I got that?' I said, 'No.' He said, 'Ahmet gave that to me.' He says, 'This is why we didn't put that thing on the record.' I was really surprised to find out that suddenly it's a bonus track on this CD."

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

TV Theme SongsFact or Fiction

Was a Beatles song a TV theme? And who came up with those Fresh Prince and Sopranos songs?

Tom Johnston from The Doobie BrothersSongwriter Interviews

The Doobies guitarist and lead singer, Tom wrote the classics "Listen To The Music," "Long Train Runnin'" and "China Grove."

90210 to Buffy to Glee: How Songs Transformed TVSong Writing

Shows like Dawson's Creek, Grey's Anatomy and Buffy the Vampire Slayer changed the way songs were heard on TV, and produced some hits in the process.

How "A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss" Became Rock's Top ProverbSong Writing

How a country weeper and a blues number made "rolling stone" the most popular phrase in rock.

Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & PalmerSongwriter Interviews

Greg talks about writing songs of "universal truth" for King Crimson and ELP, and tells us about his most memorable stage moment (it involves fireworks).

Ralph Casale - Session ProSongwriter Interviews

A top New York studio musician, Ralph played guitar on many '60s hits, including "Lightnin' Strikes," "A Lover's Concerto" and "I Am A Rock."