Song Lyric Sunday – Happiness is a Warm Gun

The prompts for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday, hosted by our friend, Jim Adams, are Bomb, Gun, Knife and Weapon. I have chosen probably something that will get multiple picks today. Happiness is a Warm Gun. In my opinion Lennon’s version is incredible, but I have chosen to use the one from the movie, ‘Across the Universe’ as the video clip is amazing. I really enjoyed this movie and if you haven’t seen it, and if you’re a Beatles fan, it’s must!

The Song

The title came from an article in The American Rifleman, a magazine published by the National Rifle Association. The story was titled “Happiness Is A Warm Gun.” In it, the author recalls the special time when he took his 7-year-old son shooting for the first time. It struck John Lennon as “fantastic, insane… a warm gun means you’ve just shot something.” Said Lennon, “I thought it was so crazy that I made a song out of it.”

This complicated song, which involved various different time signatures, (the 6/8 middle section was made more convoluted by Ringo continuing to drum in 4/4), took 15 hours and over 100 takes to nail. The first half of one take was combined with the second half of another to form the complete song.

Like the composer Wagner, Lennon felt that a song must have increasing excitement, climax and redemption. The song is built from pieces of several different little songs, with different melodies and rhythms, and one after another, the excitement is increasing. The climax is the falsetto, and finally the redemption is in the continuing call and answer.

When The White Album was released in 1968, it was not commonly known that Lennon was a composer, as many people thought that he was only a lyric writer. After The Beatles broke up, their individual songwriting contributions were revealed in greater detail. 

Lennon said of this song: “It’s sort of a history of rock ‘n’ roll.” Much of the imagery in the lyrics is about his sexual passion for Yoko.

Lennon considered this one of his favorites. It’s also Paul McCartney’s favorite song on The White Album.

In the last section of the song, the backing vocals are “Bang, Bang, Shoot, Shoot.”

A popular theory is that Lennon meant for this to be a drug metaphor for doing heroin:

“Needing a fix”

“Jump the gun” – meaning to cook it up

“Bang, Bang, SHOOT, SHOOT”

“When I hold you in my arm, nobody can do me no harm” – heroin addicts tell how when you’re on it, nothing can do you no harm and Lennon’s overall nature seem to point to this >>

This was banned by the BBC for sexual symbolism. They thought the gun was a phallic symbol.

The original line “When I hold you in my arms and feel my finger on your trigger…” appears in unreleased, bootlegged versions of “I’m So Tired” as “When I hold you in your arms, when you show me each one of your charms, I wonder should I get up, and go to the funny farm.” This could mean the line was originally sexual but was put in as a metaphor for a gun later on. 

The final doo-wop chorus of this song has the exact same chord progression as “This Boy,” just in a different key.

The phrase “happiness is a warm gun” is a play on a Peanuts comic strip from 1960 where Lucy hugs Snoopy and says, “Happiness is a warm puppy.” That phrase became a popular slogan, appearing on mugs, T-shirts and lots of other merch.

Tori Amos covered this on her 2001 album Strange Little Girls. All the songs on the album were written by men – Amos took on different characters to interpret them from a woman’s point of view. Yoko Ono had to approve this, and she did.

The Breeders covered this on their 1990 album Pod.

This is the song that inspired 2Pac to cast his gun as his girlfriend in “Me and My Girlfriend”: “She’s the only woman I need!” 

The Lyrics

She's not a girl who misses much
Do do do do do do, oh yeah
She's well-acquainted with the touch of the velvet hand
Like a lizard on a window pane
The man in the crowd with the multicolored mirrors
On his hobnail boots
Lying with his eyes while his hands are busy
Working overtime
A soap impression of his wife which he ate
And donated to the National Trust

I need a fix 'cause I'm going down
Down to the pits that I left uptown
I need a fix 'cause I'm going down

Mother Superior jumped the gun
Mother Superior jumped the gun
Mother Superior jumped the gun
Mother Superior jumped the gun
Mother Superior jumped the gun
Mother Superior jumped the gun

Happiness is a warm gun (bang, bang, shoot, shoot)
Happiness is a warm gun, momma (bang, bang, shoot, shoot)

When I hold you in my arms (ooh, oh, yeah)
And I feel my finger on your trigger (ooh, oh, yeah)
I know nobody can do me no harm (ooh, oh, yeah)

(Happiness) is a warm gun momma (bang, bang, shoot, shoot)
Happiness is a warm gun, yes it is (bang, bang, shoot, shoot)
Happiness is a warm, yes it is, gun (happiness, bang, bang, shoot, shoot)
Well, don't you know that happiness is a warm gun momma?
(Happiness is a warm gun, yeah)

Writer/s: John Lennon, Paul McCartney 
Publisher: Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Courtesy of Songfacts

  15 comments for “Song Lyric Sunday – Happiness is a Warm Gun

  1. aisasami
    January 23, 2022 at 11:32 am

    Wow, I didn’t know the context behind the song! My mom never really listened to the White Album a lot (she is a big Beatles fan too). But it is a good song. I personally love the White Album.

    • Christine Bolton
      January 23, 2022 at 7:39 pm

      Thanks Amy. I’m so happy you liked it. ☺️💕

  2. January 16, 2022 at 11:35 am

    I thought about this one *because* of Across The Universe😁 I love that movie!

    • Christine Bolton
      January 16, 2022 at 12:55 pm

      Yes me too Angie ☺️💕

  3. January 16, 2022 at 9:09 am

    Great song selection Christine, nice video and as always a thorough write-up.

    • Christine Bolton
      January 16, 2022 at 12:55 pm

      Thanks Jim ☺️

  4. January 16, 2022 at 9:04 am

    hmmm perhpas but the gun in referrence is was in fact like that old fire hydrant phallic. so you missed the point .lol

  5. January 16, 2022 at 3:28 am

    * I meant never, no new.

  6. January 16, 2022 at 3:26 am

    New seen the movie but it’s on my list now! Loved this version of the song and the video.💜

    • Christine Bolton
      January 16, 2022 at 8:24 am

      I think you’ll like it Willow ☺️💕

      • January 16, 2022 at 10:27 am

        Thank you 💜

  7. January 16, 2022 at 1:56 am

    Great song choice for the theme. I actually haven’t seen the movie, but now I’m going to see if I can find it to stream it.

    • Christine Bolton
      January 16, 2022 at 8:24 am

      Thanks Fan. Yes, hope you get to see it ☺️💕

  8. January 16, 2022 at 12:20 am

    Omg I loved this movie and especially their version of the song!!! 🤩🎶

    • Christine Bolton
      January 16, 2022 at 8:24 am

      Thanks Paula. I loved this movie too! ☺️💕

Comments are closed.