Geronimo's Cadillac

Album: Geronimo's Cadillac (1972)
Charted: 37

Songfacts®:

  • This song about Indian rights became an unofficial anthem for the American Indian Movement.
  • Murphey was originally inspired to write this after seeing a photograph of Geronimo sitting in a Cadillac. He told American Songwriter magazine July/August 1987: "The two images together - Geronimo and a Cadillac - just struck me as a song title. It was every irony I could ever think of about our culture in two words. Their attempt to make of him what we would define as a civilized person. That was the reason they put him in a Cadillac in the first place. He was actually in jail at the time."
  • Geronimo (1827-1909) was an Apache Indian chief who led raids on US soldiers after his Chiricahua reservation was abolished in 1876. After years of bloodshed he was captured following a hard-fought campaign against General George Crook, but escaped. He later surrendered, on condition that his men returned to their homes in Florida. Instead they were imprisoned and later settled elsewhere. Later on Geronimo became a successful farmer and a member of the Dutch Reformed Church.

Comments: 4

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyHere's some obscured trivia:
    On September 4th 1886, in Skeleton Canyon, Arizona, Geronimo and his Apache Indian followers surrendered to U.S. General Nelson Miles...
    Exactly eighty-six years later on September 4th, 1972 Michael Martin Murphey's "Geronimo's Cadillac" was at #58 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; just under four weeks later on October 1st it would peak at #37 {for 2 weeks} and it stayed on the chart for 13 weeks...
    His next release, "Wildfire", would be his biggest hit on the Top 100 chart; on June 15th, 1975 it would peak at #3 {for 2 weeks} and it spent 19 weeks on the chart...
    He had a total of six Top 100 records; but on Billboard's Hot Country Singles between 1976 and 1991 he had twenty-nine hits with two reaching #1, "What's Forever For" in 1982 and "A Long Line of Love" in 1987...
    Michael Martin Murphey celebrated his 70th birthday this past March 14th {2015}.
  • Mark from San Pedro, CaI think that Hoyt Axton wrote the song, tho of course Murphey's first album was titled and features the song. If you google the title you will find a 1905 foto of Geronimo in a Locomobile, taken at some kind of media event at a ranch while Geronimo was an unwilling guest of the US gov'mint. They also staged fotos of him skinning a buffalo he had supposedly killed, tho he never hunted them, they didn't exist in the area he lived in. Fine song. Hoyt was a great writer and performer, rest in peace.
  • Dougee from San Bernardino, CaPer Wikipedia, Cadillac was founded in 1902 and Geronimo died in 1909, so yes, it was definitely possible.
  • Ted from Phoenix, AzI wasn't aware that the Cadillac brand was around during Geronimo's lifetime--or was it an "edited" picture of the Indian chief sitting in a modern-day Cadillac that was the song's inspiration.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Second Wind Songs

Second Wind SongsSong Writing

Some songs get a second life when they find a new audience through a movie, commercial, TV show, or even the Internet.

Brandi Carlile

Brandi CarlileSongwriter Interviews

As a 5-year-old, Brandi was writing lyrics to instrumental versions lullabies. She still puts her heart into her songs, including the one Elton John sings on.

Harold Brown of War

Harold Brown of WarSongwriter Interviews

A founding member of the band War, Harold gives a first-person account of one of the most important periods in music history.

Jack Blades of Night Ranger and Damn Yankees

Jack Blades of Night Ranger and Damn YankeesSongwriter Interviews

Revisit the awesome glory of Night Ranger and Damn Yankees: cheesily-acted videos, catchy guitar licks, long hair, and lyrics that are just plain relatable.

We Will Rock You (To Sleep): Pop Stars Who Recorded Kids' Albums

We Will Rock You (To Sleep): Pop Stars Who Recorded Kids' AlbumsSong Writing

With the rise of Kindie rock, more musicians are embracing their inner child with tunes for tots - here, we look at pop stars who recorded kids' albums.

Desmond Child

Desmond ChildSongwriter Interviews

One of the most successful songwriters in the business, Desmond co-wrote "Livin' La Vida Loca," "Dude (Looks Like A Lady)" and "Livin' On A Prayer."