Tailgunner

Album: No Prayer For the Dying (1990)
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  • A sequel to Maiden's 1984 song "Aces High." It depicts the battle from another perspective. It was co-written by Bruce Dickinson and Steve Harris.
  • Contains the harshest profanity Iron Maiden has ever used in their song lyrics- the F-word.
  • Bruce Dickinson: "The title came from a porno movie about anal sex. Then I thought, well I can't write the lyrics about that, so I write it about real tailgunners. I had some words which began 'Trace your way back fifty years, to the glow of Dresden, blood and tears.' I know we shouldn't mention the war but it's about the attitude of bombing people. It was real death in the skies back then. But there aren't any tailgunners on planes anymore, it's all done by computers using missiles. At least it used to be man-on-man, but now it's machine-on-machine. Who uses bullets anymore?"
  • The first track off the album, it featured Dickinson imitating former vocalist Paul Di'Anno's raspy singing style.
  • Dickinson sang the word "Fokker" (a plane term) in a way that sounded very similar to the popular expletive.
  • For the album that accompanied the release of the Iron Maiden computer game Ed Hunter, "Tailgunner," appropriately enough, was the last track- at the tail end. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Brett - Edmonton, Canada, for all above
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Comments: 15

  • Lee from Seattle, Wa"Glow of Dresden" (the great firestorm). "Cologne and Frankfurt? Have some more!" This is RAF Bomber Command burning down German cities in WW2. "Enola Gay" is the Big 2 also (USA against Japan). Song isn't about WW1, or fighters, bombers are mentioned twice. Not sure WTF about the Fokkers. Like Robert/Portland said, the Dutch built Fokker fighters, and used them at the start of WW2. The Finns used them against the Russians. The Germans captured some when they took Holland, but they only used them as trainer aircraft, not in combat. The Germans had better and deadlier aircraft. My CD booklet does say "Fokker", but I have many CD booklets with typos. Eetu/Helsinki may be right about the Focke-Wulfs. The Germans used Fw 190 day fighters against the RAF bombers at night. They had no radar, but could see the bombers from above, silhouetted against the burning cities. Anyway, I came to this site to look at metal song meanings, got sucked into talking about war, an easy trap for me.
  • Robert from Portland, OrJust came upon this discussion when looking up Fokker aircraft in WWII. I just wanted to point out that there were Fokker fighter aircraft used in WWII. One was the heavy twin-engined fighter called the Fokker G.I that was used by the Dutch in 1940. Which did have a rear gunner. And the Fokker Fokker D.XXI fighter used by the Finns and the Dutch.
  • Caitlin from Colmesneil, TxCallum, I happen to like Janick. He's an awesome musician, guitarist, writer... and MARRIED! Don't talk crap about him...
  • Sillyrabbit from San Antonio, TxThere's been much debate regarding the time period in which the song is based. The Fokker was a WW1 fighter aircraft. Though there were no Fokker fighter planes in WW2, there were various other fighter planes in WW1 that were two-seaters. They carried the pilot and a gunner, many of which were tailgunners (rear-facing seats with guns used to fend off enemy attacks from behind). The song's "Fokker" reference could actually be a reference to WW1 dogfighting; however, the line "trace your way back 50 years" makes that a bit of a stretch. The other line "kill that sun" or "kill that son" is a reference to Japanese planes that carried the red circle as the sign of "the rising sun". This along with the "Enola Gay" reference is clearly WW2 related.
  • Craig from Melbourne, AustraliaAbsolute stunning track off a brilliant album.
  • David from Petaluma, CaPut this to rest once and for all. If you read the lyrics on the cd insert it says Fokker. And that refers to the German airplane maker. But Eetu has a good point. There were no Fokkers used in WWII as fighter aircraft. So Harris and Dickinson must be thinking about both World Wars when they wrote this. Because in the last verse they mention the Enola Gay.
  • Chow from Saint Louis, MoThere was a plane used in WWII called the fokker stork. It was a small single engine airplane (something like the pipper cub) which was able to land and take off on a landing area of less the 50 feet. It's most notable mission is when the nazi's rescued the then disposed benito mussilini from captivity.
    Best Regards, CHOW
  • Cads from London, EnglandPlayed on 2 tours - No Prayer On The Road 90/91 & Fear Of The Dark 92.
  • Dan from Zagreb, Croatiausing "Fokker" on paper was just a trick to make lyrics NOT offensive. "nail that Fokker kill that son"...(of a b**ch).
  • Jason from Phoenix, AzI'm fairly certain that the writer would go with the exact word "Fokker" referring to the Fokker planes, regardless of whether they were used in WWII. It goes well, and that is far more important than historical accuracy in ANY song.

    Foul language was never in Iron Maiden. Bruce Dickenson however, didn't hold himself to that. Tattooed Millionaire is full of foul language. Big deal, it was the late eighties by then, and no big deal. Once you're more established you can get away with that stuff.
  • IngÃ?lfur from ReykjavÃ?k, IcelandThe F-word isn't F--ker, it's Fokker - A plane
  • Callum from Hobart, United Statesits about air warfare before radar, ANDis not about anal sex at all, and if it is its inspired by that janik gerrs
  • Eetu from Helsinki, FinlandTo be precice, no Fokker-built fighters were used in WW2 so it can't be Fokkers bruce is singing about. I doubt about profanity in lyrics. But it can be about Focke Wulf fighters that were used by the Germans. When sung, "Fokker" and "Focke" sound similar.
  • Brett from Northglenn, CoActually, the song Holy Smoke on the same album contains the lyrics: "I've lived in filth, I've lived in sin but I still smell cleaner than the s**t you're in"
  • David from Petaluma, CaThe term Fokker refers to the aircraft manufacturer which still builds regional jets and turboprops. The Red Baron's plane, Manfred von Richthofen, was a Fokker DR.I. Also to my knowledge, Iron Maiden lyrics with Bruce Dickinson, never used profanity.
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