• "An extremely quiet child" they called you in your school report
    "He's always taken interest in the subjects that he's taught"
    So what was it that brought the squad car screaming up your drive
    To notify your parents of the manner in which you died

    At St. Patrick's every Sunday, Father Fletcher heard your sins
    "Oh, he's unconcerned with competition he never cares to win"
    But blood stained a young hand that never held a gun
    And his parents never thought of him as their troubled son

    "Now you'll never get to Heaven" Mama said
    Remember Mama said
    Ticking, ticking
    "Grow up straight and true blue
    Run along to bed"
    Hear it, hear it, ticking, ticking

    They had you holed up in a downtown bar screaming for a priest
    Some gook said "His brain's just snapped" then someone called the police
    You'd knifed a Negro waiter who had tried to calm you down
    Oh you'd pulled a gun and told them all to lay still on the ground

    Promising to hurt no one, providing they were still
    A young man tried to make a break, with tear-filled eyes you killed
    That gun butt felt so smooth and warm cradled in your palm
    Oh your childhood cried out in your head "they mean to do you harm"

    "Don't ever ride on the devil's knee" Mama said
    Remember mama said
    Ticking, ticking
    "Pay your penance well, my child
    Fear where angels tread"
    Hear it, hear it, ticking, ticking

    Within an hour the news had reached the media machine
    A male Caucasian with a gun had gone berserk in Queens
    The area had been sealed off, the kids sent home from school
    Fourteen people lying dead in a bar they called the Kicking Mule

    Oh they pleaded to your sanity for the sake of those inside
    "Throw out your gun, walk out slow just keep your hands held high"
    But they pumped you full of rifle shells as you stepped out the door
    Oh you danced in death like a marionette on the vengeance of the law

    "You've slept too long in silence" Mama said
    Remember Mama said
    Ticking, ticking
    "Crazy boy, you'll only wind up with strange notions in your head"
    Hear it, hear it, ticking, ticking Writer/s: BERNIE TAUPIN, ELTON JOHN
    Publisher: Universal Music Publishing Group
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Comments: 9

  • Jeff Chastain from Mesquite, NvThis song is missing from the online versions of the album. One of my favorites, I was disappointed that it was no long on Caribou. Perhaps the subject has just become too raw and Sir Elton decided to pull it.
  • Jon from AtlantaWow, I am really surprised. Maybe because I was a child of the 70s. This song was to me always a true story about a bar shooting in New York in 72 or 73. They had banned the song from the radio for quite a while because the police were afraid of copycat killings. I thought even that was the correct name of the bar...The Kicking Mule......I just asked my wife and messaged my brother, both kids of the 70s and both thought the same as me.
  • Scotty from Apache Junction, ArizonaI was going to post the "rifle shells" fact Jim from Pleasant Hill, Ca until I had seen his. I've personally sung this songs hundreds of times since 1974. When the "rifle shells" lyrics are sung, I substitute them with..."rifle bullets."
  • Adam from WisconsinIn an interview with Keyboard Magazine Sir Elton revealed that when he recorded the song the basic track (the piano and vocals you hear on the Lp) they were done live (um...in the studio, that is). The only overdubs are his background vocals and the synthesizer. He said the song was too difficult to the parts separately!
  • Colin from London, United KingdomI have a very clear image about how this song should be performed. Elton at the piano, no-one else on stage. As the song begins, a giant screen descends, and images appear from Columbine, Newtown, the Gabby Giffords incident. As Elton sings the line "His parents never thought of him as their troubled son", the image of Alex Jones in rant mode appears. For the rest of the song, images of the massacres are interspersed with stills of Wayne LaPierre and Conservative pundits like O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter. As the final chord reaches a crescendo, images of guns fill he screen, getting bigger and bigger...
  • Robin from Milford, NjVery, very few have even come close to the musical and lyrical GENIUS of Elton and Bernie! This song, proudly, another example.
  • Jim from Pleasant Hill, CaThe lyrics contain a technical error in that the police couldn't have pumped him full of rifle "shells" (bullet casings vs. actual bullets).
  • Jim from Long Beach, CaThis is haunting,yet powerful...
  • J.b. from San Jose, CaI was 12 (and, studying classical piano) when this song was released in 1975; I wore it OUT on the old vinyl L.P. "Caribou" (Yes, kiddies, music was played on a vinyl! platter....ha ha.
    Learning this song was tricky; the left hand keeps a "ticking" syncapated rythm. Great song, great songwriting!!! Best lyric in the song comes at the end: "Crazy boy, you'll only wind up with strange notions in your head, hearing, hearing, ticking, ticking..." Who writes lyrics that that, nowadays, and, uses such descriptive words???? Bernie and Elton did...
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