Music: Warren Zevon: Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner

Music: Warren Zevon: Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner

This song is a darkly funny ghost story, and has, to me, one of the most grim and funny lines in music – which is high praise given the hilarious satire that Weird Al Yankovic can bring forth.

The song tells the story of a Mercenary named Roland, hired to fight in the Congo war. Eventually, he’s too good, and the CIA decides they want him dead, having one of his teammates knock him off.

Roland’s ghost searches throughout the continent of Africa, looking for his murderer, and finds him:

Roland searched the continent
For the man who’d done him in
He found him in Mombassa
In a bar room drinkin’ Gin
Roland aimed his Thompson Gun
He didn’t say a word
But he blew Van Owen’s body
From there to Johanasburg.

Savor that line again…

*Roland aimed his Thompson Gun, *He didn’t say a word

Headless ghost, right?

This song, like many of Warren’s, is darkly funny, and probably my all time favorite, beating out “Lawyers, Guns, and Money,” as well as “Werewolves of London”, and “Excitable Boy” – which only needs a minor revamp to fit in alongside Oingo Boingo’s “Only a Lad”. It’s very different in tone from his other favorites of mine like Veracruz.

And am I the only guy who hears what sounds like “Werewolves” starting up only to discover it’s Kid Rock? And is pissed?

About Last Redoubt

Ex nuke mechanic, jack of all trades.