"Shooting Shark" as written by Donald Roeser and Patti Smith....
Well I'm up there beside the magic man
And he laid some tricks for me
He said you do need help my friend
I whispered, obviously

He laid a spread of Jacks and Queens
And he begged me take my pick
But every face that had your face
I cried out, I am sick

Sick of hauling your love around
Want to run my train alone
But the engine tracks straight through your heart
And weighs me like a stone
Oh it's a hard love to love you it takes up all my time
Having you so familiar like past lives and nursery rhymes

So I gave away the pictures and your golden ring
And the phone calls you sent me and the silver birds that sing
Then the man he told me something that really brought me down
Your things were blown away it's true but you were still in town


The magician left a message, it flashes when I hide
Accept the chains of loving,
Accept the rails remove yourself from her side
Do without her love

As I lay back in the speeding train, I keep it by my side
I could mail a letter to you but I still have my pride

Lyrics submitted by shut, edited by romefalls

"Shooting Shark" as written by Patti Smith Donald Roeser

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Shooting Shark song meanings
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  • +1
    Song MeaningI think the song could have to do with addiction.

    His "Magic Man" could be a doctor that is trying to help him.

    Can't get the drug out of his mind, despite the choices and chances he's given.

    Sick of hauling his addiction around, wants to "run that train alone." Everything takes him right back to the addiction, it "weighs him like a stone."

    it consumes his life, but he feels so peaceful with it.

    So he gave away all the paraphernalia, his dealer, his friends.

    But the doctor or counselor advises him to remove himself from all temptation.

    But he relapses for the fourth time...
    morgannyyon December 26, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe magic man is a reference to Twilight Zone writer Charles Beaumont who was frequently refered to as Magic Man. It fits in well with their other references to fantasy-tales such as Godzilla, and I am sure they love Rod Serling, Twilight Zone and Beaumont.

    However, my question is: What does shooting shark mean? Is it some kind of fireworks?

    I dedicated this song to my brother Anders who passed away at age 46 two weeks ago. He introduced me to Blue Oyster Cult.

    Best regards, Peter.
    PeterRoederon July 20, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSorry guys. This song is NOT about drugs, drug addiction, Satanic ideology...or anything of the like.

    Patty Smith actually wrote for and collaborated with BOC on more songs than you probably know. She wrote this song in it's entirety for the band.

    This is a powerfully moving piece about a desperate man who is unable to permanently leave a relationship with a woman that has gone on WAY TOO LONG and his inability to cut the ties (he makes 3 weak attempts to do so and each fails utterly) is now making him PHYSICALLY SICK.

    The character cries out to the Magic Man, "I AM SICK!"

    The "Magic Man" he seeks out initially, who is a kind of PSYCHIC who ..."lays a spread of Jacks and Queens; and bade me take my pick...but every face it had your face I cried out, I AM SICK..." is an intentional stab at the...especially back then...sorry and ineffective general practice of psychology/psychiatry to actually help with ANYTHING (one's chances of getting meaningful help from a "clinician" was NO better than paying money and seeing a Tarot Card reader...I know this!).

    So after his initial visit with the psychic, he tells us what his experience of staying in the relationship is like and what it's doing to him and how badly he wants out:

    "...Sick of hauling your love around;
    Wanna run my train (my life) alone...just loving you takes everything out of me (my breath away).

    "But the engine tracks straight through your heart and weighs me like a stone."

    (keeps getting redirected back to her). "Oh it's a hard load to love you...it takes up all my time." (Ever date someone who is really NEEDY? Smothering? He's talking about this).

    Attempt 1 to leave her:

    "So I gave away the picture...
    And your golden ring
    And the phone calls you sent me
    And the silver birds that sing."

    (Common for people to try "leaving" someone by tossing out the stuff given to us by them FIRST. Typically doesn't work.)

    But then the psychic leaves a message that depresses him badly:

    "Then the man he left a message that really brought me down:

    "Your things were thrown away it's true... but YOU WERE STILL IN TOWN." (Didn't really change anything) Still getting sicker "hauling her love around" Killing him...can't do it much longer.

    Attempt 2 to leave her:

    The psychic leaves another ominous message for him:

    He said

    "Accept the chains of loving...
    Accept or else remove yourself from her side." (Cheesy advice...no brainer right? Get out or this will just continue).

    So he gets more dime store psychology advice

    "Live without her love."


    Attempt 3 to leave her:

    "I lay back with the steel chain (last memento he has left from her); I keep it by my side." (Means he still can't let go yet).

    "I could mail a letter to you...
    But I still have my pride." (getting sicker from hauling her love around... and how draining this is...he wants out but can't do it).

    (How many of you...those who have sought psychiatric/psychological help have been given the absolutely worthless assignment of "writing a letter" to _____ who hurt you, died, left you, abandoned you, molested you...whatever? I have never seen this help ANYONE over the long term in 22 years of practice!). No wonder he rejected it as something that might help him extricate himself from the dysfunctional relationship!)

    (Still sick of hauling her love around & wanting his life back...because this is smothering him completely)


    ***He reviews for us what's happened so far ***

    "3 times I've sent you back from me...
    3 times my bones gone dry!"

    (great symbolism for what it feels like when we can't let go of something bad for us but serves some dysfunctional need we probably don't understand; people report feeling like they are dying on the inside).


    "3 times I've seen the shooting shark lightning up the sky.

    (by the way no one really knows what the shooting shark actually represents...save Patti Smith?)

    Repeat of the heavy load it is loving her, etc.


    "The 4th time around is the LAST time around...there's nothing else to say..."

    He finally walks away from her. After a long battle resulting in the realization that it is hopeless and killing him.

    Great song! Awesome symbolism and metaphors!

    Sorry guys: Not about drugs or anything else but a sick relationship.


    Blake 40 year Rush fanon April 02, 2017   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFirst, two corrections:

    1. It's "Accept the chains of loving; accept OR ELSE remove yourself..."
    2. It's "Three times, my BONE'S gone dry.."

    Anyhow, it boils down to the classic male dilemma about women: can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em. If I've had a dust-up with the woman in my life, this is one of a handful of tunes that goes on the CD at Saturn V liftoff volume, with much whisky consumed.
    1940lasalleon April 26, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHa! That was funny! I love the chorus. I love the words, I love the way they're put together, the song, the music.... everything! I want to know what the shooting shark is though.
    mongoosestalkeron July 24, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentCould the shooting shark be a airplane with a shark painted on it? Because it says "lighting up the sky" and that made me think of shooting, and I remember the shark being a popular decal on world war 2 airplanes. Could the song be about war and patriotism?
    trevtrev22on April 01, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think morgannyy hit the nail on the head. It's very probably about addiction. And the shooting shark refers to the needle (and the damage done), "lighting up the sky".
    romefallson September 02, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSong about a breakup!! Bad relationship!!
    doorssieon May 15, 2018   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhat I meant was it’s about a toxic relationship a breakup that he can’t get over.
    doorssieon May 15, 2018   Link

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