"Only A Lad" as written by and Danny Elfman....
Johnny was bad, even as a child everybody could tell,
Everyone said, "If you don't get straight
You'll surely go to hell."

But Johnny didn't care,
He was an outlaw by the time that he was ten years old,
He didn't want to do what he was told
Just a prankster, juvenile gangster.

His teachers didn't understand,
They kicked him out of school at a tender early age,
Just because he didn't want to learn things
He had other interests
He liked to burn things!

The lady down the block,
She had a radio that Johnny wanted oh so bad,
So he took it the first chance he had.
Then he shot her in the leg,
And this is what she said
"Only a lad. You really can't blame him."
"Only a lad. Society made him."
"Only a lad. He's our responsibility."
Oh, oh, oohh oh oh oh
"Only a lad. He really couldn't help it."
"Only a lad. He didn't want to do it."
"Only a lad. He's underprivileged and abused."
Perhaps a little bit confused?

Oh oh ohhh, oohhh oh oh ohh whoa whoa whoa
Oh oh ohhh, oohhh oh oh ohh whoa whoa whoa

His parents gave up, they couldn't influence his attitude,
Nobody could help.
The little man had no gratitude.

And when he stole the car,
Nobody dreamed that he would try to take it so far.
He didn't mean to hit the poor man,
Who had to go and die.
It made the judge cry.

"Only a lad. He really couldn't help it."
"Only a lad. He didn't want to do it."
"Only a lad. He's underprivileged and abused."
Perhaps a little bit confused?
Oh oh oh, ohh ohh ohh

It's not his fault that he can't believe,
It's not his fault that he can't behave,
Society made him go astray.

Perhaps if we're nice he'll go away,
Perhaps he'll go away,
He'll go away

"Only a lad. You really can't blame him."
"Only a lad. Society made him."
"Only a lad. He's our responsibility."

Hey there Johnny you really don't fool me,
You get away with murder,
And you think it's funny!
You don't give a damn if we live or if we die
Oh oh oh, ohh ohh ohh oh oh,
Hey there Johnny boy,
I hope you fry!

Oh oh oh, ohh ohh ohh oh oh,
Oh oh oh, ohh ohh ohh oh oh.


Lyrics submitted by cactusdave

"Only a Lad" as written by Danny Elfman

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Only A Lad song meanings
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11 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentHow is it more Oingo Boingo fans haven't commented on this song? This is easily one of their best! I think the meaning is clear and I wholeheartedly agree with Elfman's last verse. The punk ass criminals should fry.
    monster36604on July 13, 2007   Link
  • +2
    Song MeaningI remember seeing "Capitalism" on some list of the "top conservative rock songs," which is funny since I think that song is an obvious satire of its speaker's conservative perspective. I think this song is the real conservative song on the record. That's not to say Elfman should be naively equated with the speaker of the song, but isn't it cathartic when he screams, "Hey there Johnny boy, I hope you fry!" That voice isn't ironized the way the speaker of "capitalism" is, because we know he's right: Johnny's problem isn't that he's "underprivileged," it's that he's a spoiled borderline psychopath. The irony works the other way, against the societal voices excusing Johnny's behavior and hoping pathetically, "Perhaps if we're nice he'll go away." In the real world, I'm sure there are lots of criminals who really are victims of their upbringings and circumstances. But Johnny's just a little prick who deserves whatever punishment he gets.
    tommythecat42on June 01, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentEnuma_Elish, At the end he says "Hey there Johnny you really don't fool me" and "I hope you fry!". Hes clearly stating his position in the matter.
    House_Of_Dollson May 10, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is very much about society rewarding bad behavior. A guy who not only misbehaves as a child, but goes on to lead a life of crime and garners sympathy from other people and even admiration for being a "bad boy". Yes Elfman's lyrics were satirical and full of sarcasm, and in this case I think he's satirizing liberals for their belief that showing empathy will persuade people from doing bad things.
    Sozlukon May 11, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General Commentgonna be on the new guitar hero =]
    Encore: rock the 80's
    agirlfromohioon June 29, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song sounded so familiar when I was playing it on Guitar Hero, and at first I thought, "This song sucks."

    I hate that mentality that people like this are totally blameless for their crimes.

    But of course you find out at the end where the singer stands, so it's all good :) Good thing, too - I love the sound.
    saturn9on September 10, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song sounded so familiar when I was playing it on Guitar Hero, and at first I thought, "This song sucks."

    I hate that mentality that people like this are totally blameless for their crimes.

    But of course you find out at the end where the singer stands, so it's all good :) Good thing, too - I love the sound.
    saturn9on September 10, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm not sure how seriously we should take this song. I mean, it's on the same album as "Capitalism" and, pushing the same thing to an even greater extent, "Little Girls". Part of me wants to say that this song is, like "Capitalism", "serious satire." But maybe it is what Danny Elfman really thinks.
    enuma elishon March 19, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think that he is serious about what this song is about. So he was often satirical but does that mean he hasn't the ability to be serious? I think at the end he sums it up with his opinion.

    Also, WTF OINGO FANS?? COMMENT PLZ?
    d9s9123on May 24, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is a mockery of society about how kids will do horrible things, but adults will say, "He's only a lad, we really can't blame him," and the kid will get out of punishment. But that kid (Johnny) in the future, will get nowhere.
    TrytoBelieveon June 23, 2016   Link

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