Pecked by the seagulls
Hanging from the gallows
Swinging in the breeze
Dripping something on the streets
I can see him from my window they can see him from the water
Just a victim of the press gang

I knew him when he was breathing
He was a good man, he was a young man
He was like you, he was like me
It could've been me
It could've been me

Twisting in the breeze
(cut him down, cut him down)
Left for the children on the streets
(cut him down, cut him down)
On the streets

He should have kept his mouth shut
He never shoulda left that ship
Don't go drinking down by the docks
You don't know if you'll wake up

I knew him when he was breathing
He was a good man, he was a young man
He was like you, he was like me
It could've been me
It could've been me

Twisting in the breeze
(cut him down, cut him down)
Left for the children on the streets
(cut him down, cut him down)
On the streets

Woke up on the water
No one ever asked him if he wanted to go
Didn't have many options
He was smart; he got out when he could
Shoulda stayed in the Pacific
Should have stayed in the Pacific
Could've had it good
Any island
Any island wouldn't do
Any island wouldn't do

I knew him when he was breathing
He was a good man, he was a young man
He was like you, he was like me
It could've been you
It should've been me

But it should've been the press gang
(cut him down, cut him down)
But it should've been the press gang
(cut him down, cut him down)
Cut him down, cut him down
Cut him down


Lyrics submitted by vacantskies

Press Gang song meanings
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9 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentA press gang was a group of men hired usually by the government to press men into military service, usually the navy. This was common practice in Great Briton way back in the day, and the press gangs usually ended up being run by criminals who one could bribe to get protection from being pressed into service. In this song it seems that someone got on the wrong side of the press gang and was lynched. This song is one of my favorite by the Devils because of the great mood the organ and lyrics set.
    BreakinGlass139on June 01, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Commenta press gang (as expressed bybreakinglass139) was an organization of thugs that forced (mostly) drunks in time of war into the navy.
    it seems to an artist or musican...that a modern press gang... could pressure a friend into a life of misery. if it is about johnny thunders (or any member of the murder city devils or friends) it could refer to a record company or a drug dealer.
    keeping your mouth shut isnt what johnny thunders, or any soul bearing rocker, is about was about. but not all of us were there for the hanging of the punk rock movement....
    goodgriefon July 17, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love this song! It's just such an omnious sounding song with the organ and lyrics like "Don't go Drinkin' down by the Docks".
    Kid_Handsomeon September 21, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song reminds me of a tale of two cities...possibly that is just me seeing as i was reading it around the time i was listening to this song a lot.... oh well.
    LiquifiedCaton June 26, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commentpress gang is the name of the band that johnny thunders formed in his later years, with wayne kramer of mc5 if i'm not mistaken. Since they already have a song about Johnny Thunders, the reference makes sense
    blueinthefaceon December 06, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentJohnny Thunder and Wayne Kramer's band was Gang War.
    iwannabeyourtamponon September 18, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commenta press gang (as expressed bybreakinglass139) was an organization of thugs that forced (mostly) drunks in time of war into the navy.
    it seems to an artist or musican...that a modern press gang... could pressure a friend into a life of misery. if it is about johnny thunders (or any member of the murder city devils or friends) it could refer to a record company or a drug dealer.
    keeping your mouth shut isnt what johnny thunders, or any soul bearing rocker, is about was about. but not all of us were there for the hanging of the punk rock movement....
    goodgriefon July 17, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBreakinglass139 is right re: the pressgang, i would only add that if later you tried to run away from the Navy, well then you would get hanged for desertion.

    This song has special meaning for me... I had a friend (Sgt Scott Kirkpatrick, KIA, also 1999 Slam Poetry National Champion) who joined the army in '04 because he wanted to go fight in Afganistan. He was tired of "Dreaming his life away" and wanted to "Make it on his own" This was his favorite devils song. He was taken in by all the pomp and hype in the media and in the ad campaigns on TV and everywhere else for the Army. After his 1st tour in Iraq, (where he never wanted to go and didnt know why he was there) he expressed to me some of his reservations about the Army, their mission and the things he was being asked to do. 2 months later he shipped out for his second tour in Iraq, where he was killed by a suicide bombers' booby trap. Such a fucking waste... "He was a good man, he was a young man. He was like you, he was like me."
    MD01GEISTon March 12, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentPirates had more rights and less work load on board their ships than they would have in the navy or if they were on a merchant ship. They were also paid much better. Most chose to be a pirate as apposed to being shanghaied into the military by a press gang. "He was smart he got out when he could" I believe refers to our dude joining some pirates and leaving the navy. When a pirate was caught they were almost always executed, and their bodies would often be hung in a gibbet to deter others from becoming pirates. I'm pretty sure that's what the first verse about swingin' in the breeze is about. Also "I can see him from my window they can see him from the water" supports that. The order of events is confusing, but I'm pretty sure there is some pirate stuff in there.
    incircles9on April 01, 2011   Link

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