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"Ballad of a Well-Known Gun"
Song by Elton John

from the album Tumbleweed Connection

Released October 30, 1970 (UK)
January 4, 1971 (USA)
Recorded March 1970
Genre Rock, country
Length 4:59
Label DJM (UK/world)
Uni (US/Canada)
Writer Elton John, Bernie Taupin
Producer Gus Dudgeon
Tumbleweed Connection track listing
"Ballad of a Well-Known Gun"
"Come Down in Time"

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


Musical structure

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

The story tells of a fugitive on the run who finally gets caught. The first line, "I pulled out my Stage Coach times", really 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 1971 seem to be the only dates it was played. It was also performed 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, but didn't play it after that.

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




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