Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner

Warren Zevon
Lingua: Inglese

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Song composed by Warren Zevon and David Lindell

Zevon met co-writer Lindell in Spain, where the latter was running a bar after a stint working as a mercenary in Africa. Typically interested in the darker side of life, Zevon decided to collaborate with Lindell on a song about a mercenary.

Roland is a Norwegian who becomes embroiled in the Congo Crisis of the late 1960s. He earns a reputation as the greatest Thompson gunner, a reputation that attracts the attention of the CIA in foreign conflicts. Roland is betrayed and murdered by a fellow mercenary, Van Owen, who blows off his head. Roland becomes the phantom "headless Thompson gunner" (reminiscent of the Headless Horseman) and eventually has his revenge on Van Owen, when he catches him "in a bar room drinking gin." After this Roland continues "wandering through the night" as a sort of revolutionary spirit.

Besides the historical references to third-world conflicts around the globe, the 'Troubles' in Northern Ireland, and the often shadowy involvement of the CIA, the song is a sort of bittersweet rallying cry to the "revolution" in America. The final line of the song, "Patty Hearst heard the burst of Roland's Thompson gun, and bought it," referring to heiress Patty Hearst's kidnapping and subsequent involvement in the Symbionese Liberation Army, throws a cynical twist into the song's portrayal of a mercenary come back from the dead for justice and revenge.

Roland was a warrior from the Land of the Midnight Sun
With a Thompson gun for hire, fighting to be done
The deal was made in Denmark on a dark and stormy day
So he set out for Biafra to join the bloody fray

Through sixty-six and seven they fought the Congo war
With their fingers on their triggers, knee-deep in gore
For days and nights they battled the Bantu to their knees
They killed to earn their living and to help out the Congolese

Roland the Thompson gunner...

His comrades fought beside him - Van Owen and the rest
But of all the Thompson gunners, Roland was the best
So the CIA decided they wanted Roland dead
That son-of-a-bitch Van Owen blew off Roland's head

Roland the headless Thompson gunner
Norway's bravest son
Time, time, time
For another peaceful war
But time stands still for Roland
'Til he evens up the score
They can still see his headless body stalking through the night
In the muzzle flash of Roland's Thompson gun
In the muzzle flash of Roland's Thompson gun

Roland searched the continent for the man who'd done him in
He found him in Mombassa in a barroom drinking gin
Roland aimed his Thompson gun - he didn't say a word
But he blew Van Owen's body from there to Johannesburg

Roland the headless Thompson gunner...
The eternal Thompson gunner
still wandering through the night
Now it's ten years later but he still keeps up the fight
In Ireland, in Lebanon, in Palestine and Berkeley
Patty Hearst heard the burst of Roland's Thompson gun and bought it

inviata da Alessandro - 21/9/2009 - 18:40

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