"Sniper" as written by and Harry F. Chapin....
It is an early Monday morning.
The sun is becoming bright on the land.
No one is watching as he comes a walking.
Two bulky suitcases hang from his hands.

He heads towards the tower that stands in the campus.
He goes through the door, he starts up the stairs.
The sound of his footsteps, the sound of his breathing,
The sound of the silence when no one was there.

I didn't really know him.
He was kind of strange.
Always sort of sat there.
He never seemed to change.

He reached the catwalk. He put done his burden.
The four sided clock began to chime.
Seven AM, the day is beginning.
So much to do and so little time.

He looks at the city where no one had known him.
He looks at the sky where no one looks down.
He looks at his life and what it has shown him.
He looks for his shadow it cannot be found.

He was such a moody child, very hard to touch.
Even as a baby he never smiled too much. No no.No no.

You bug me, she said.
Your ugly, she said.
Please hug me, I said.
But she just sat there
With the same flat stare
That she saves for me alone
When I'm home.
When I'm home.
Take me home.

He laid out the rifles, he loaded the shotgun,
He stacked up the cartridges along the wall.
He knew he would need them for his conversation.
If it went as it he planned, then he might use them all.

He said Listen you people I've got a question
You won't pay attention but I'll ask anyhow.
I found a way that will get me an answer.
Been waiting to ask you 'till now.
Right now !

Am I?
I am a lover whose never been kissed.
Am I?
I am a fighter whose not made a fist.
Am I?
If I'm alive then there's so much I've missed.
How do I know I exist?
Are you listening to me?
Are you listening to me?
Am I?

The first words he spoke took the town by surprise.
One got Mrs. Gibbons above her right eye.
It blew her through the window wedged her against the door.
Reality poured from her face, staining the floor.

He was kind of creepy,
Sort of a dunce.
I met him at the corner bar.
I only dated the poor boy once,
That's all. Just once, that was all.

Bill Whedon was questioned as stepped from his car.
Tom Scott ran across the street but he never got that far.
The police were there in minutes, they set up baricades.
He spoke right on over them in a half-mile circle.
In a dumb struck city his pointed questions were sprayed.

He knocked over Danny Tyson as he ran towards the noise.
Just about then the answers started comming. Sweet, sweet joy.
Thudding in the clock face, whining off the walls,
Reaching up to where he sat there, answering calls.

Thirty-seven people got his message so far.
Yes, he was reaching them right were they are.

They set up an assault team. They asked for volunteers.
They had to go and get him, that much was clear.
And the word spread about him on the radios and TV's.
In appropriately sober tone they asked "Who can it be?"

He was a very dull boy, very taciturn.
Not much of a joiner, he did not want to learn.
No no.No no.

They're coming to get me, they don't want to let me
Stay in the bright light too long.
It's getting on noon now, it's goin to be soon now.
But oh, what a wonderful sound!

Mama, won't you nurse me?
Rain me down the sweet milk of your kindness.
Mama, it's getting worse for me.
Won't you please make me warm and mindless?

Mama, yes you have cursed me.
I never will forgive you for your blindness.
I hate you!

The wires are all humming for me.
And I can hear them coming for me.
Soon they'll be here, but there's nothing to fear.
Not any more though they've blasted the door.

As the copter dropped the gas he shouted "Who cares?" .
They could hear him laughing as they started up the stairs.
As they stormed out on the catwalk, blinking at the sun,
With their final fusillade his answer had come.

Am I?
There is no way that you can hide me.
Am ?
Though you have put your fire inside me.
Am I ?
You've given me my answer can't you see?
I was!
I am!
And now I will be
I will be


Lyrics submitted by kevin, edited by jejones3141

"Sniper" as written by Harry F. Chapin

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Sniper song meanings
Add your thoughts

6 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +1
    General CommentThe song is about Charles Whitman who killed 17 people from the observation deck of the clock-tower at the University of Texas at Austin in 1966. He'd also murdered his mother and wife right before he went to the tower.

    They discovered in his autopsy he had a brain tumor in the judgement section of his brain and was under the influence of amphetamines when he started his shooting spree.
    Bullzeyeon October 12, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe obvious interpretation is a retelling of the day when Charles Whitman took a hunting rifle to the top of the tower on the campus at Univ. Texas/Austin in 1963, and started killing people until he himself was finally killed.

    But...Chapin adds plenty more. Far more than anyone could know about Whitman. Basically, he turns it into a kind of generalized "rebel-against-the-world" type of tale--someone for whom life has been worse than a joke, has been tragedy and treachery and disappointment and worse from Day One. Someone who is rebelling against everyone and everything--justice and mercy be damned.

    As such, this song is about a lot more than just Charlie Whitman. With appropriate adjustments, it could be about the Columbine duo, Son of Sam, whoever. ...NOT about Bin Laden or the 9/11 terrorists, though; these are people with a goal, however twisted. This is a song about someone whose only goal is to protest, and to assert himself--to make damn sure he's noticed.

    There aren't many songs out there like this one.
    kflauxon August 24, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe song is about a man - whether it be Charles Whitman or your next door neighbor - who has no understanding of what life is. He has spent his entire life being ignored, shut out, and left alone because there was "something creepy about him."

    He exists only within his own mind. In fact, he has no idea of whether or not he exists - which is the premise of the song. His "conversation" with the town is the only way left to him to prove his existence. "Am I?" he asks with his rifles.

    As people lie dying on the streets below him, he finds his answer - that his actions have consequence ("Reality poured from her face..."), that he has made an impact on the world, that indeed, he exists. And, as he dies on the catwalk, he realizes that he will continue to exist as he goes down in history. Perhaps that was his semi-deranged plan from the beginning.

    Harry Chapin was a master storyteller. If only we had artists like him today.
    bugmenot123on August 25, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is obviously about a shooting. real or not i dont know. but this may reflevt what harry himself is or was or feels. if anyone has any replys please do. im not sure why none put in an entry already this is such a great song so epic. maybe its to hard decifer i cant.
    jimwaters145on May 21, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is obviously about a shooting. real or not i dont know. but this may reflevt what harry himself is or was or feels. if anyone has any replys please do. im not sure why none put in an entry already this is such a great song so epic. maybe its to hard decifer i cant.
    jimwaters145on May 22, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentsounds remarkably similar to the 1967 Texas University shooting in which local nut case and ex-marine Charles Whitman climbed to the top of a tower and started shooting at the locals
    iawindtalkeron June 17, 2009   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain