Running Gun Blues

Running Gun Blues.

An early entrant in the distinguished “crazy Vietnam veteran” genre, “Running Gun Blues” features an ex-soldier turned serial killer. Bowie sounds unhinged in the verses, tries for menace in the choruses, going on about cracking the heads of “gooks.” It’s satire fit for (and seemingly written by) a squalid 13-year-old boy.

Mick Ronson offers amends—beefing up the D-C-G riff that Bowie first offers on his acoustic, locking in with Tony Visconti’s bass to ride out the track. It’s no use, as the track’s nothing but cheap, loud burlesque with “social commentary” pretensions. Angela Bowie recalled that her husband wrote the lyrics to “Running Gun Blues” over an afternoon when he kept being interrupted to do interviews, and it shows (“for I promote oblivion/and I’ll plug a few civilians”). As rancid as it is forgettable.

Recorded 18 April-22 May 1970; never performed again by Bowie, or anyone else.

Top: Lt. William Calley goes on trial, November 1970.

8 Responses to Running Gun Blues

  1. It’s the one Bowie song I could live without.
    I’ve been doing a re-listen to TMWSTW. My first impression is that Bowie has gone stark raving mad and got this Mick character to play Jimmy Page to his Robert Plant (of the Black Country) and failing at it (like everyone else). My opinion of Mick will change when I get to Hunky Dory.

  2. Stew says:

    I love this song though :3

  3. Olli Valkonen says:

    This isn’t a SONG but a ruff n´tuff hard blues trip. I just love the irony of lyrics, depicting the attitude of many many American war films of later years.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I think it’s pretty great. My opinion and I’m entitled to it.

  5. Anon Amos says:

    Never performed again…until Quarry season1 episode 8 a great show about a Vietnam vet turned serial killer.

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