Every Song Tells A Story: This Gun Is Now My Life
This song is the fourth song of a concept album I wrote called The Code of the West. It’s basically an outlaw tale and this song is about the symbiotic relationship the main character has with his gun.
In the story, this song takes places after some very intense things happen. The main character has come back from the Civil War to find his home burned down and his parents dead. He seeks and finds revenge and begins a life of uncertainty, traveling from Missouri to California in search of gold with plans to retire in Mexico. In this song, he realizes that he’s actually become an outlaw.
It is, in essence, a song of transformation. The war changed him. The events at home changed him. He realizes that he doesn’t need a wife or companion; only his gun. The gun is symbolically his partner, protector, lover, and friend.
Lyrically, it was a fun song to write. I really had fun drawing comparisons between the gun and a woman. This is not a foreign concept in rock music. You’ll see a lot of male songwriters comparing women or sex to things like their cars, for example. I used a gun since I was talking about the old west. I think it really worked.
I should also mention that I’m not glorifying guns or gun violence. This song is merely a part of a story that deals with cowboys, outlaws, and the old west. When conjuring up those images in your mind, you’ll envision things like horses, ghost towns, tumbleweeds, and of course guns.
This song ended up being a favorite of mine from the album. I enjoy the slow groove, the drum pattern, and the lyrics. When I listen to the concept album as a whole, this one always makes me smile.
The song has a slow rock groove dictated by the drums, which I recorded first. I used what I call an “alternate” ride/hi-hat pattern in this song, which I like to do from time to time. Instead of playing straight quarters or eighths to keep time, I only played on the two and four. It gives the song a little extra space and also provides some variation, making the song a little more unique.
The bass is simple, but effective. There are some little bits and fills in there but nothing too distracting. I added some acoustic guitar and organ in the background. The lead guitar parts were fun to play and not as stressful as they usually are for me. Everything seemed to fall into place nicely.
I already had all the lyrics written for the entire project before I recorded it so the vocals were not difficult. I knew the melodies and just had to duplicate them from memory. The only backups are some “ahhhhhs” behind the chorus. They’re back in the mix so while you can hear them, they aren’t in your face.
I added some thunder/rain sound effects to the end for fun. I figured it would help people envision the main character camped out in the wilderness somewhere. It also signified the beginning of dark times for him.
If you get some time, please enjoy The Code of the West.
She was a standard issue in ’61
.36 caliber percussion gun
Single action six shot, recoil low
She packs a hell of a punch don’t you know
When I rode out of St. Joseph town
My saddlebags were light
I lost everything I had in that lawless town
I was lucky to get out with my life
But my Colt Navy, she never failed me
Time after time
And when I grab her handle she feels so warm
You’d swear there was blood inside
I won’t take a wife
This gun is now my life
She stays by my side and she sleeps with me every night
She makes me feel safe and warm
Protects me from any harm
I don’t need no wife – this gun is now my life
Now once you’ve killed a man
It turns your heart to stone
Second time it’s not so tough
You learn to live and let go
But those were times of war
I’m not a soldier any more
I’m not sure what I am now
Dear God have I become an Outlaw?