Ballad of a Well-Known Gun

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"Ballad of a Well-Known Gun"
Song by Elton John
from the album Tumbleweed Connection
Released30 October 1970 (UK)
4 January 1971 (US)
RecordedMarch 1970
GenreCountry rock
LabelDJM (UK/world)
Uni (US/Canada)
Songwriter(s)Elton John, Bernie Taupin
Producer(s)Gus Dudgeon

"Ballad of a Well-Known Gun" is a song by Elton John with lyrics by Bernie Taupin. It is the opening track of his third album, Tumbleweed Connection released in 1970.

Musical structure[edit]

The song has a long intro, starting with various drum hits and guitar riffs. The piano joins in, and the song kicks off to a moderate 2/4 tempo. The guitar and piano creates a country-esque flavour. The chorus features a choir giving a Southern essence, setting the image for the entire album. One of the singers featured is Dusty Springfield, one of Elton's biggest idols. A guitar solo is prominent.

Lyrical meaning[edit]

The story tells of a fugitive on the run who finally gets caught. The first line, "I pulled out my Stage Coach times", sets the Wild West image the entire album is known for. In the second verse the fugitive is scared to go prison, as he has seen it before. He is also feeling guilty that they might take his family down for his actions as well. Though only two verses and a chorus long, the song repeats the chorus pattern several times, and is five minutes long.


The song was sparsely performed live. Venues of 1970 and '71 seem to be the only dates it was played. John also performed it at his 60th birthday concert, stating that he "probably hadn't played the song in 30 years." After the concert he played it several places in North America, and the song recently was played live as part of John's encore set at the Beacon Theater show in New York City with Leon Russell, to promote the duo's album The Union.

An alternate take played in a moderate 4/4 tempo is available on the 2008 deluxe edition of the album.


External links[edit]