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"Janie's Got a Gun"
Single by Aerosmith
from the album Pump
Released 1989
Format Cassette, CD
Recorded 1989
Genre Hard rock
Length 05:33
Label Geffen
Writer(s) Steven Tyler, Tom Hamilton
Producer Bruce Fairbairn
Aerosmith singles chronology
"F.I.N.E.*"
(1989)
"Janie's Got a Gun"
(1989)
"What It Takes"
(1990)
Music sample
Janie's Got a Gun

"Janie's Got a Gun" is a song performed by American hard rock band Aerosmith and written by Steven Tyler and Tom Hamilton. It was originally titled "Danny's got a Gun" after a close friend of Steven Tyler, but was later changed. It was released as the second single from Pump in 1989. It peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1990, and also made it to #2 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. The song also reached #1 in Australia, their first single #1 there, and one of two #1 singles for the band in that country. It reached #12 in Sweden [1]

Contents

Song structure

On the album, "Janie's Got a Gun" is preceded by a 10-second instrumental called "Water Song", which features the work of professional instrumentalist Randy Raine-Reusch, who uses a glass harmonica, wind gong, and bullroarers to produce the special effects heard at the start of the song.

Steven Tyler came up with the main riff of "Janie's Got a Gun" using a low-tone setting on his keyboard. Co-songwriter Tom Hamilton then came up with the bassline. The guitars and drum parts were configured in later, and Steven Tyler was responsible for writing the lyrics. The guitar solo is played by Joe Perry and is accompanied by the main riff and rhythmic clapping.

Lyrical interpretation

The song is about a girl named Janie who takes revenge on her father after being abused by him; it is one of the few Aerosmith songs to deal with a heavy social issue. Aerosmith vocalist Steven Tyler says that he came up with the title and melody before he knew what direction he wanted the song to take. It had taken nine months to finish the lyrics; after Tyler read a Newsweek article on gunshot victims, he was able to connect the song with the theme of child abuse/incest. The line "He jacked a little bitty baby" was originally "He raped a little bitty baby," but was changed for commercial purposes. In addition, the line "...and put a bullet in his brain" was sometimes changed to "...and left him in the pouring rain" for the radio airplay version to make the song sound less graphic.

Music Video

The video, released in 1989, was directed by noted video director and later film director David Fincher.

The video was groundbreaking at the time, featuring gruesome, realistic scenes that would be utilized in subsequent videos of the 1990s. The video made even more explicit the abovementioned references to incest; early in the video, the actor playing the father is shown exiting his daughter's room, and cuts to a shot of the girl crying. The actress playing Janie is Kristin Dattilo of The Chris Isaak Show fame. Dattilo was then 19 years old. Actress Lesley Ann Warren played Janie's mother.

Covers and other versions

The song title was parodied on The Daily Show on February 13, 2006; at one point, while Jon Stewart and his "correspondents" were mocking the Dick Cheney hunting incident, a placard displayed the caption "Cheney's Got a Gun." A parody song of that same name was written by Bob Rivers and is featured on the website atomfilms.com. Three other "Cheney's Got a Gun" parodies were submitted to the popular music parody website Amiright, along with the Bob Rivers version of the parody.[2]

Another parody was "Elmo's Got a Gun" by Tommy & Rumble. It was about Sesame Street character Elmo going on a killing spree. It is often improperly attributed to "Weird Al" Yankovic. There are many fan-made videos of this on Youtube.

In Not Another Teen Movie (2001); Jake, played by Chris Evans, while trying to seduce a girl, is told to sing a song with the name (Janie Briggs) in it. Unfortunately, Jake sings "Janie's Got a Gun", which gets Janie Briggs arrested and tasered by campus police for suspicion of a concealed weapon.

On the Full House episode "Our Very First Telethon", Joey Gladstone sings "Janie's Got a Gun" for the telethon, "We Love Our Children Telethon '90".

Awards

Rankings on lists

  • "Janie's Got a Gun" ranked #37 on VH1's 100 Greatest '80s Songs.
  • In 1993, "Rolling Stone: The Top 100 Music Videos" included "Janie" at #95.
  • In 1999, "MTV: 100 Greatest Videos Ever Made" included it at #48.
  • In 2001, "VH1: 100 Greatest Videos" included it at #48.

References

  1. ^ "Sweden Chart"
  2. ^ "Am I Right - Song Parody Lyrics, Search". Amiright.com. 2006. http://www.amiright.com/parody/search/search.php?input00=&inputSort=1&input01=cheney%27s+got+a+gun&input02=&input03=&SearchTerms=4&Start=0. Retrieved July 20, 2006.  

External links

Preceded by
"Love Shack" by The B-52's
Australian ARIA Singles Chart number-one single
February 17, 1990 - February 24, 1990
Succeeded by
"Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinéad O'Connor







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