"John Walker's Blues" as written by and Steve Earle....
I'm just an American boy, raised on MTV
And I've seen all the kids in the soda pop ads
But none of 'em look like me.
So I started lookin' around for a light out of the dim
And the first thing I heard that made sense was the word
Of Mohammed, peace be upon him

A shadu la ilaha illa Allah
There is no God but God

If my daddy could see me now â?? chains around my feet
He don't understand that sometimes a man's
Got to fight for what he believes
And I believe God is great, all praise due to him
And if I should die, I'll rise up to the sky
Just like Jesus, peace be upon him

We came to fight the Jihad, and our hearts were pure and strong.
As death filled the air, we all offered up prayers
And prepared for our martyrdom.
But Allah had some other plan, some secret not revealed
Now they're draggin' me back with my head in a sack
To the land of the infidel.

A shadu la ilaha illa Allah
A shadu la ilaha illa Allah


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"John Walker's Blues" as written by Stephen F. (fain) Earle

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John Walker's Blues song meanings
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9 Comments

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  • +1
    General Comment1) It Blows me away that noone has commented on this song

    2) it blows me away that more Steve Earle songs arent on this site!

    This song is about John Walker Lind who was known as "The American Taliban". He was caught in Afghanistan fighting the Northern Alliance on the side of Al Quada. There is no argument that he ever fired on Americans or even had an opportunity to..but was ridiculed and hauled back to America and treated like a terrorist just the same.
    It took Balls the size of church bells to write this song when it was written (or now for that matter) and Steve Earle has so many great songs.

    Check out: BIlly Austin, Over Yonder, Valentines Day, Copperhead Road, Dead Man Walking, Tom Ames Prayer, and his version of Breed by Nirvana!
    Bellyfull of Swanson January 16, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentYou have got to love this song. One of my favorites from Jerusalem. In fact, one of my favorite Steve Earle songs ever. And I like all of Earle's songs, so that's saying something.
    And you're right, Bellyfull of Swans,
    a) The lack of Earle songs on here is surprising, and
    b) He's got real guts to have written this song at all, especially at the given time. John Walker Lind needed a sympathetic voice, and Steve delivered it.
    Buddha of Suburbiaon March 01, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI read an interview from Steve Earle who said that when John Walker Lind was arrested, he thought he had a son about the same age, and that he wanted to write a song from his perspective. See the dad reference in the song. Everybody screws up at some point, and it's a shame that this kid got caught up in something over his head at a bad time. It's also telling that Steve Earle had the balls to point out that we as American's were going too far to make this kid a vilian, and tossing civil liberties out the window. It takes a strong character to be that correct and stand to your convicitions even when they are unpopular. Even better, he never backed down and let people overreact to the song, unlike the wavering Dixie Chicks. Appreciating this song, like art, doesn't make you a terrorist, or a Muslim.
    ILoutlawon February 04, 2009   Link
  • +1
    My OpinionThat's true, ILoutlaw, and the connection to thinking of J. W. Lind as if it were his own son helped give a direct pat to understanding the motivations, contradictions, and great sadness of the boy.

    This is a remarkable work of empathy and just plain excellent songwriting.

    But I wasn't aware at the time that this song was very "controversial" -- I thought it was truly under the radar. It's not like they were playing much Steve Earle on the radio anyway!
    That's the thing you have to realize with what the Dixie Chicks went through: they were at the absolute "Top of the World" as far as fame went in the commercial County music world went, and then one made a declarative statement about Bush being a shame for Texans and Americans, at a time when Americans have never been so propagandized and fearful, and false-Patriotic.
    They were advised to "take it back" and at first made an awkward attempt to mend the broken relationship they suddenly had with much of their fanbase, and then said screw it and owned their new bad commercial-radio reputation, moved on up.
    I'm not a Dixie Chicks fan, but I admire what they do at their level, and they deserve much respect sacrificing all the fame and monetary gain at that time for a higher principles.

    And all praise to Steve Earle who never betrays his convictions or his talent.
    ApesMaon December 15, 2011   Link
  • +1
    Song FactMy Friend Steve may be controversial-but at the same time, he is brilliant! John Walker is a sympathetic character study that rocks hard! I love Steve Earle and the Dukes!
    rabbitbunnyon March 01, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYou have got to love this song. One of my favorites from Jerusalem. In fact, one of my favorite Steve Earle songs ever. And I like all of Earle's songs, so that's saying something.
    And you're right, Bellyfull of Swans,
    a) The lack of Earle songs on here is surprising, and
    b) He's got real guts to have written this song at all, especially at the given time. John Walker Lind needed a sympathetic voice, and Steve delivered it.
    Buddha of Suburbiaon March 01, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm new, this is, in fact, my first comment. I feel a personal relationship with steve earle, i been a huge fan for several years, yes after first being exposed to copperhead road, I have since seen the guy live every time he comes this way, i think, I got every record he's made on disc as well as the pc, If you pay close attention, your favorites will change alla time, he's got like twenty five years of great thought provoking, intelligent, meaning rock and roll, bluegrass, country, rockabilly, etc. I also have a nice collection of steve earle written songs, interpreted by other artists. That is a surprisingly diverse mixture of artists, i think the guy is the most underrated artist ever. But share with everyone you know, maybe steve will hit the mainstream, make loads of real money and come to tyhe westcoast more often..haha
    Brachson July 13, 2008   Link
  • 0
    My OpinionI'm Muslim and I'm quite impressed by how much Earle gets right. "Ashadu (an) la ilaha il Allah" is what Muslims say on entering the faith. Muslims should say "peace be upon him" after mentioning a prophet like Muhammad, Jesus, Abraham, and others, peace be upon them. The sample at the end is recitation of the Quran in Arabic, but I cannot make out what part. It's a beautiful, poignant song.
    asad101546on February 29, 2016   Link
  • 0
    TranslationThe Arabic at the end is from the Quran, 47:4, one translation is:

    NOW WHEN you meet [in war] those who are bent on denying the truth, [4] smite their necks until you overcome them fully, and then tighten their bonds; [5] but thereafter [set them free,] either by an act of grace or against ransom, so that the burden of war may be lifted: [6] thus [shall it be]. And [know that] had God so willed, He could indeed punish them [Himself]; but [He wills you to struggle] so as to test you [all] by means of one another. [7] And as for those who are slain in God’s cause, never will He let their deeds go to waste: - 47:4 (Muhammad Asad) -
    asad101546on February 29, 2016   Link

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