James And The Cold Gun

Album: The Kick Inside (1978)

Songfacts®:

  • In an interview with Phil Sutcliffe published in the August 30, 1980 issue of Sounds, composer and performer Kate Bush spoke of her fascination with guns: "Not about what they do, but detach them from their purpose and they're... fantastic, beautiful. And yet they're designed to kill which is against everything I believe in."
  • At a stretch this song could be about James Bond, but it was actually inspired by a contemporary thriller, The Day Of The Jackal. Based on the book of the same name by English author Frederick Forsyth, this 1973 release featured Edward Fox in the title role of the nameless would-be assassin of Charles de Gaulle, who was President of France from 1959-69. The film is set in 1963, the same year American President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
  • A live version of "James And The Cold Gun" was released on the 12-inch EP Kate Bush Live On Stage. Running to 6 minutes 25 seconds, it was recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon, London on May 13, and released September 3, 1979. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for all above
  • EMI wanted this to be the first single, but Kate fought for the haunting "Wuthering Heights," which proved to be the right move. It peaked at #1 in the UK. That doesn't mean the rock-flavored "James and the Cold Gun" wasn't a crowd pleaser. During her live shows, the gun-toting singer would perform the song in Western cowgirl regalia and "shoot" her adversaries, sometimes using bits of red felt or capsules of fake blood to represent the carnage. One of her bandmates even tracked down a dry ice machine to transform the stage into a smoke-filled saloon.
  • Kate received several fan letters from people trying to guess the identity of James, but there's no big mystery behind the man with the cold gun. "The answer is: nobody. When I wrote the song, James was the right name for it," she revealed in a fan club newsletter.
  • While Kate does ask James if he's selling his soul to a cold gun, the specific song title doesn't show up in the lyrics.
  • Australian singer Ariel recorded an acoustic cover of this in 2012.

Comments: 1

  • Andrew from London, United KingdomA bit of a stretch to link this song to James Bond. I always thought that this song was about an ex-gang leader from wild west times who has hit the bottle big time. His gang and his woman 'Jeannie' miss him and want him back.
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