"Tommy Gun" as written by Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Topper Headon....
You ain't happy less you got one
Tommy gun
Ain't gonna shoot the place up
Just for fun
Maybe he wants to die for the money
Maybe he wants to kill for his country
Whatever he wants, he's gonna get it!

You better strip it down for a custom run
Tommy gun
Waiting in the airport 'till kingdom come
An' we can watch you make it
On the nine o'clock news
Standing there in Palestine lighting the fuse
Whatever you want, you're gonna get it

You'll be dead when your war is won
Tommy gun
But did you have to gun down everyone?
I can see it's kill or be killed
A nation of destiny has got to be fulfilled
Whatever you want, you're gonna get it!

You can be a hero in an age of none
Tommy gun
I'm cutting out your picture from page one
I'm gonna get a jacket just like yours
An' give my false support to your cause
Whatever you want, you're gonna get it!

Boats an' tanks and planes, it's your game
Kings an' queens an' generals learn your name
I see all the innocents, the human sacrifice
And if death comes so cheap
Then the same goes for life!

Lyrics submitted by aebassist, edited by heckiz

"Tommy Gun" as written by Mick Jones Joe Strummer

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Tommy Gun song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentI highly doubt that The Clash were being anti-Palestine in this song, especially considering some of the statements they made in old interviews (in a 1984 interview Joe Strummer said "It’s a dumb move blowing innocent people up — it doesn’t get them anywhere. But I try to understand the feeling behind it. Terrorism only occurs when the people holding power won’t negotiate... Suppose we were Palestinian — what would we do? I’ll tell you what I’d do — exactly what they’re doing. They can’t get anybody to even sit down at the table, so what else are they going to do, piss off?"). Mick Jones has participated in fundraisers for the Hoping Foundation (which supports Palestinian children) and both he and Paul Simonon (as part of the Gorillaz) backed out of performing in Israel after the flotilla attack in 2010.

    "Standing there in Palestine, lighting the fuse" -- that could easily be an Israeli soldier or militant attacking the Palestinians (especially since it seems like if Strummer wanted to make this anti-Palestine, he would've said "standing there in Israel" instead). "Did you have to gun everyone down, I can see it's kill or be killed, a nation of destiny has got to be fulfilled" -- that could refer to Israel's reputation of using disproportional force, as well as the Zionist longing for the "promised land" AKA "nation of destiny that must be fulfilled."

    The song overall seems like a general condemnation of terrorism in any form, whether related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or not. All I'm saying is that it seems highly unlikely that The Clash would take an anti-Palestine view, considering their politics. That's my two cents.
    stillboredwiththeusaon October 11, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Commentsome bloke got busted by british special branch police for texting these lyrics to his mate.
    they thought he was organising a terror attack.
    beware, big brother is watching you!!!
    chineapple punxon July 01, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe drum solo at the end of the song is soo cool!!! This song rules!!!
    sabresfanwp7on October 27, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Commentjoe wrote this song to denounce those who use violence as a means of protest, like the "marxist revolutionary" groups such as the RAF.
    inmyeyeson November 15, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentDoesn't that third verse remind you all of Hitler kind of? The lyrics TOMMY GUN
    YOU CAN BE A HERO IN AN AGE OF NONE remind me of how Germany was in a widespread depression at the time Hitler rose up and took power, TOMMY GUN
    WHATEVER YOU WANT, YOU'RE GONNA GET IT! reminds me of all of the Germans who didn't want to support Hitler but were forced to under his regime, and the jacket part kinda reminds me of the Hitler Youth.
    JoE][BoXeRon December 11, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWho lit the fuse in "Palestine"? Could be a reference to the British Empire, which, rather than adhering to the League of Nations mandates, restricted Jewish immigration to Mandate Palestine while allowing largely unfettered immigration into the territory by Arabs as it began to prosper under early Jewish efforts. This led to the imbalanced demographics that made war a possibility. The British had no such qualms about preventing Jewish immigration into the Arab territories for which it had the mandate (Transjordan), so there was a precedent for a quid pro quo. Apparently, the British feared a backlash from the Arabs (and the associated problems relative to the Suez Canal and the oil fields) more than from the Jews, so much so that in 1939 it formally blocked Palestine as an escape route for the Jews of Europe.
    aparatchikon October 01, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe Thompson, also known as the "Tommy Gun" was the trademark gun the Allies used in World War 2. I can only guess that this song is trying to talk about World War II.
    punkintendedon June 25, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe Thompson, also known as the "Tommy Gun" was the trademark gun the Allies used in World War 2. I can only guess that this song is trying to talk about World War II.
    punkintendedon June 25, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commentor just to be neutral it could be an israeli lighting the fuse in palestine.
    Armegideonon January 24, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMy hairs on my neck stand up whenever joe sings if death comes so cheap then some goes for life.
    Now Shes A turtleon April 28, 2008   Link

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