Song of the Week, March 12, 2007: Autobiography of a Pistol

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paddyinthepub
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Song of the Week, March 12, 2007: Autobiography of a Pistol

Postby paddyinthepub » Mon Mar 12, 2007 9:42 am

"Autobiography of a Pistol"

I'm a pistol, a forty-five,
I just shot two men in this hot-house dive.
Now I'm smoking - burning hot barrel of metal.
Believe it or not, I was bought by this guy named Ray,
a card carrying member of the NRA,

But he left me out in his car one day,
And now the finger on my trigger hasn't seen it's sixteenth birthday.
Some things they never tell you when you're riding the assembly line.
Like who'll be the hands to hold you and what's their state of mind - -
Hey, I'm not much bigger than a pointed index finger.
So who am I to lay the blame?
I'm only here to cause some pain...

The sirens --
I can hear them, they're singing ...
They're singing my song,
"When the sun sets, I get upset --

Darkness fills me and I want to light up the world"...

Would you believe I've seen better days?
I starred in westerns and won rave reviews.
Now I sit on a shelf, tagged for judgment day.
I've got to change the jury's point of view.
You see, guns don't kill people, it's the bullets that do.
I said guns don't kill people, bullets do.
Yeah, the bullets do...

© Ellis Paul Publishing (ASCAP) 1994


I am a lucky son of a gun.

Whenever "a rough time" could have been worse, my father would inevitably interject the phrase "Luck of the Irish" at some point in the story. I believe he was right.

As a fan of great music, to go from a chance "sampling" of the music of Ellis Paul on a compilation disc - to picking up a copy of STORIES when the record was new in stores was an example of just how lucky I can be. What a solid record top to bottom, highlights everywhere. It was this song that brought home the clear message that Ellis Paul was an artist of immense intensity. He could tell a story, something the Irishman and music lover in me appreciates. Our love of Ellis' music started here and "Autobiogrpahy" was a favorite.

Ellis could bring it soft and sweet and he could bring it hard and fast. I always got a kick out of the song "Sweet Home Alabama" because the singer lets you know straight up it's time to "TURN IT UP!" I reference Lynnrd Skynnrd because surely every kid in the country would reach for the volume and crank it up when the song came on. I did the very same thing each and every time the opening electric guitar of Autobiograhy of a Pistol would start. I'm certain it sounds good at any volume level, but I wouldn't know. Had to blast this one. Great song!

I reference the Irish in me and the luck I've known mainly because it's gettin close to St. Patrick's Day and at least for a day, we're all Irish. I also bring up luck because I remember hearing AUTOBIOGRAPHY of a PISTOL early on and realising that "there but for the grace...."

Ellis captures the violent nature of guns in the wrong hands and the song paints a vivid picture in so few words, yet so many images. Just had me thanking my lucky stars I could enjoy a story like this one, not live it.

Top of the morning, y'all.
"once we're inside, it's a carnival ride" ~ ellis paul
paddy

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Postby Richard + Jela » Mon Mar 12, 2007 10:39 am

Thanks for kicking this one off Paddy.

I think that this is one of Ellis' cleverest songs and so original to write it from the perspective of the gun. I just love the line
guns don't kill people, its the bullets that do


it speaks volumes. I know that gun laws are very different between our two countries but gun crime is becoming a real problem in some parts of the UK and only fairly recently there has been a number of incidents where very young people (teenagers) have beet shot. Some of the incidents are linked to drugs and criminal gangs......oh if only we could somehow stop production/availability of bullets.....

Really pleased that this song made the 'Essentials' cut and look forward to reading the perspectives of others' on this song.

Jela

paddyinthepub
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Postby paddyinthepub » Mon Mar 12, 2007 6:48 pm

Jela - that's an idea I hadn't thought of before. Get rid of the bullets.

Working outside the USA for a time in the mid 80's I had the chance to get to know a couple of guys from London England. One conversation we had was on the topic of the different way in which our respective police forces were armed to fight crime. While the news from the USA always seemed to include a story about a cop using excessive force in a situation resulting in loss of life - the logic for them was difficult to fathom. The simple reason being that law enforcement officers in London were likely armed with little more than night sticks. I believe they were called "Bobby Sticks."

For me, that image was also hard to fathom. It all seemed so innocent. Sorry to hear things have changed. I always thought it would be great if we could control the problems in America with Bobby Sticks.
"once we're inside, it's a carnival ride" ~ ellis paul
paddy

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Sue Ellen
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Postby Sue Ellen » Tue Mar 13, 2007 8:50 am

Thank you Paddy for getting this started this week.

This is such an amazingly creative commentary, that goes right to the heart of concerns about hand guns in this country. I agree the greatest twist is:

You see, guns don't kill people, it's the bullets that do.
I said guns don't kill people, bullets do.
Yeah, the bullets do...


The lyrics don't pull any punches, and clearly point out the absurdity of the proliferation of hand guns, and the ease of access to them. The human brain just isn't equipped for such a thing; there is such a poor connection between our lower emtional brain and our upper "thinking" brain; the thinking part can justify anything, and when the feeling part is raging or calculating or acquiring, the thinking part cannot really control it and is often only able to collude with it. We have no business having such access to such a deadly weapon...Oh, but yes, it's the bullets, not the people, that kill. How silly of me.

Sue Ellen
"...I implore you, I entreat you, I challenge you to speak with conviction, to say what you believe, in a manner that bespeaks the determination with which you believe it, because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker, it is not enough these days to "question" authority, you have to speak with it, too."
Taylor Mali, "Like, You Know?"

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Postby Patti » Tue Mar 13, 2007 9:08 am

And to think it wasn't always that way,not that guns have ever been a good thing but certainly not always the problem they are today.

Would you believe I've seen better days?
I starred in westerns and won rave reviews.


The version on Live really rocks!!

paddyinthepub
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Postby paddyinthepub » Tue Mar 13, 2007 1:58 pm

So many great images in this song.......

"Hey, I'm not much bigger than a pointed index finger."

Just brings to mind playing cops and robbers as a kid. All you had to do was point that index finger and try to pick off as many as you could.

Has Ellis captured that image with that line? For me it's just an amazing way to tie in the differences between playing make believe and the harsh reality of what's going on in the scene Ellis set here.
"once we're inside, it's a carnival ride" ~ ellis paul
paddy

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KarenZ
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Postby KarenZ » Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:28 pm

Hi everyone,

This is one of those songs that I've often tried to sing-along to without getting tongue-tied....mostly without success. I love how the words fire out of Ellis' mouth....like the bullets out of a Gatling gun. I wonder if that was intentional...

The last verse encapsulates what I see as a big problem in today's society. Instead of folks taking responsibility for their actions (hard right) they blame someone else (easy wrong). Doing the hard right stretches our ethical muscles and builds character. That pistol deserves to be sitting on a shelf tagged for judgment day. ;)

Great song that makes a powerful statement.

KarenZ

"You see, guns don't kill people, it's the bullets that do.
I said guns don't kill people, bullets do.
Yeah, the bullets do..."
"Some people are born to make great art and others are born to appreciate it. It is a kind of talent in itself, to be an audience, whether you are the spectator in the gallery or you are listening to the voice of the world's greatest soprano. Not everyone can be the artist. There have to be those who witness the art, who love and appreciate what they have been privileged to see." -- Ann Patchett in Bel Canto.

paddyinthepub
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Postby paddyinthepub » Tue Mar 13, 2007 10:07 pm

Thinking about our discussion earlier today and wondered about other artists who have written songs that touch upon guns. In a New York Minute I channeled "The Boss" and began to wail:

41 SHOTS..........
41 SHOTS..........
41 SHOTS..........
IT AIN'T NO SECRET........
IT AIN'T NO SCERET........
IT AIN'T NO SECRET........
YOU CAN GET KILLED JUST FOR LIVING IN...........
YOU CAN GET KILLED JUST FOR LIVING IN...........
YOU CAN GET KILLED JUST FOR LIVING IN...........
YOUR AMERICAN SKIN.

AMERICAN SKIN (41 SHOTS) ~ Bruce Springsteen
"once we're inside, it's a carnival ride" ~ ellis paul
paddy

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Re: Song of the Week, March 12, 2007: Autobiography of a Pistol

Postby paddyinthepub » Sat Jan 03, 2009 1:32 am

Just learned the sad news of the passing of trauma surgeon John Pryor who died serving our country in Iraq on Christmas Day. From what I've read about him John Pryor was a rare human being and a gifted trauma surgeon. While reading about his career in medicine both here in Philadelphia and in service to those in harm's way in Iraq........I came upon this article John had written about gun violence.

The War in West Philadelphia

Here's John Pryor's account of trying to save lives on September 11, 2001.

John Pryor's 9-11 Narrative
"once we're inside, it's a carnival ride" ~ ellis paul
paddy

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Re: Song of the Week, March 12, 2007: Autobiography of a Pistol

Postby paddyinthepub » Sat Jan 08, 2011 10:59 pm

The song returns to mind with the news out of Tuscon, Arizona today where a young 22 year old man with a hand gun fires into a crowd gathered at a suburban Safeway to listen to Democratic Congresswoman Gabriele Giffords speak to her constituents.

The tally is something like 12 shot, 5 in critical condition, 2 dead.

The Congresswoman had a bullet pass thru her brain and is in ICU tonight after undergoing surgery. It was initially reported she had died. Her husband is Mark Kelly, a NASA astronaut, set to fly the next mission on April 1, 2011. Her husband's brother is also an astronaut, and currently up in space.

Julie Gold's song "From a Distance" comes to mind.

It's being reported that certain Rebublican and or Tea Party politicians have websites that feature graphics targeting Democratic elected officials and wouldn't you know it they use photos of them with "crosshairs" over their images. I think the game changed today, and it's also been reported that those websites have removed the "crosshairs" featured.

Guns don't kill people.....it's the bullets that do.
"once we're inside, it's a carnival ride" ~ ellis paul
paddy

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Re: Song of the Week, March 12, 2007: Autobiography of a Pistol

Postby KarenZ » Sun Jan 09, 2011 10:23 am

Paddy,

I didn't know about this incident until I read your posting - I've been a bit out of it. All I can say is that it's scary, scary, times.....and wish Ellis' wish in "I've Got 9 Months to Fix the World" would come true.....

KarenZ
"Some people are born to make great art and others are born to appreciate it. It is a kind of talent in itself, to be an audience, whether you are the spectator in the gallery or you are listening to the voice of the world's greatest soprano. Not everyone can be the artist. There have to be those who witness the art, who love and appreciate what they have been privileged to see." -- Ann Patchett in Bel Canto.

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Re: Song of the Week, March 12, 2007: Autobiography of a Pistol

Postby paddyinthepub » Sun Jan 09, 2011 10:51 am

It was just another day, like any other other day.

Just learned from watching the news that the federal judge who died at the scene was a friend of Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford. As it goes, the judge attended Saturday Mass as he always does. His normal routine, the sherrif (also a friend of the judge) who spoke at the press conference said was to return home from Mass and do his floors. He did this every Saturday. On this day, however, he dropped by the shoppong center around the corner from the church to visit his old friend, the Congresswoman.

"It was just another day, like any other, other day" ~ Ellis Paul
"once we're inside, it's a carnival ride" ~ ellis paul
paddy

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Re: Song of the Week, March 12, 2007: Autobiography of a Pistol

Postby paddyinthepub » Sun Jan 09, 2011 11:52 am

The tale is told here in a little more detail. Ellis' line in "Angel in Manhattan" comes to mind today as I try to wrap my mind around the ordinary nature of the gathering of normal everyday folks out to listen to the Congresswoman speak to them in this town hall setting.

The relational innovator in me, almost immediately when the news story broke on tv, yesterday, couldn't help but notice the ridiculous irony that this unforseen tragic event took place in front of a business called Safeway.


more on the story......
"once we're inside, it's a carnival ride" ~ ellis paul
paddy

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Re: Song of the Week, March 12, 2007: Autobiography of a Pistol

Postby paddyinthepub » Tue Jan 25, 2011 5:34 pm

Hi everyone,

Is anyone aware of a video anywhere of this song?

I thought there was at least a fan generated one....?

Mtngal and I are on the lookout for a video...thanks in advance!
"once we're inside, it's a carnival ride" ~ ellis paul
paddy

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Re: Song of the Week, March 12, 2007: Autobiography of a Pistol

Postby KarenZ » Tue Jan 25, 2011 6:53 pm

Paddy,

I am not aware of a video for AOAP. Sorry. :(

KarenZ
"Some people are born to make great art and others are born to appreciate it. It is a kind of talent in itself, to be an audience, whether you are the spectator in the gallery or you are listening to the voice of the world's greatest soprano. Not everyone can be the artist. There have to be those who witness the art, who love and appreciate what they have been privileged to see." -- Ann Patchett in Bel Canto.

paddyinthepub
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Re: Song of the Week, March 12, 2007: Autobiography of a Pistol

Postby paddyinthepub » Tue Jan 25, 2011 7:02 pm

Have Gun Will Travel was a popular tv show back in the day. Lord knows we watched it all the time as old westerns were my dad's favorite genre.

Fast forward it's Will Travel Have Camera

Hope we can look forward to one soon... :wink:
"once we're inside, it's a carnival ride" ~ ellis paul
paddy


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