"I Shot The Sheriff" as written by and Robert Marley....
I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy
I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy

All around in my home town
They're trying to track me down
They say they want to bring me in guilty
For the killing of a deputy
For the life of a deputy, but I say

I shot the sheriff, but I swear it was in self-defense
I shot the sheriff, and they say it is a capital offense

Sheriff John Brown always hated me
For what I don't know
Every time that I plant a seed
He said, "Kill it before it grows"
He said, "Kill it before it grows", I say

I shot the sheriff, but I swear it was in self-defense
I shot the sheriff, but I swear it was in self-defense

Freedom came my way one day
And I started out of town
All of a sudden I see sheriff John Brown
Aiming to shoot me down
So I shot, I shot him down, I say

I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy
I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy

Reflexes got the better of me
And what is to be must be
Every day the bucket goes to the well
But one day the bottom will drop out
Yes, one day the bottom will drop out, but I say

I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy, oh no
I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy, oh no


Lyrics submitted by weezerific:cutlery

"I Shot the Sheriff" as written by Bob Marley

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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I Shot The Sheriff song meanings
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16 Comments

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  • +1
    General Commentcool song. (claptons the man but i think bob marleys version sounded better.)
    pinkfloydon May 17, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti think bob did better.

    i don't think anyone could top the original.
    jhandson July 02, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song was posted by my ex recently on a site, it was posted directly to me. Of course there is a story behind it, i can provide more detail. However, just to start does anyone understand what this song is about?
    beaner90on July 09, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWhat strikes me is that it is important to hear the whole story before judging the protagonist. He states first that he did shoot the Sheriff -- he makes no excuse or apology for that. This may lead the listener to assume he is guilty of the shooting of the deputy. As well, it suggests that even if he is not guilty of the crime of shooting the deputy, he will be convicted. This is counteracted by his claim of self defense, which in most cultures will exonerate the defendant. Of course, there is still the charge of resisting arrest, but that is usually not a "capital offense". The speaker also asserts that the Sheriff (one "John Brown") exceeds his authority with prejudice, so the resistance of arrest may in some measure be justifiable.

    The only missing element is the identity of the killer of the deputy, of which the speaker seems ignorant. There is no evidence I can find that this was based on any real event. It was written by Bob Marley, and it might be assumed that his version is what he intended. "Better" is a matter of taste and cannot be accurately disputed.
    groupingon February 13, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOn the 461 outtakes album, Clapton is clearly heard saying that Bob Marley shot the deputy, hence Clapton shot the sheriff.
    nagromnaion August 16, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's a rock' n roll song about an outlaw because rock n roll is outlaw music. Rebelling has what rock music has been about and rooting for a hero who has killed a man matches that persona. It's a simple story about a bad men who do good things and good men who do bad things. The wild west was wild because it wasn't this place where the good guys wore white and always did the honorable thing and blah blah blah. It was more complicated than that. Yeah I shot the sherrif but he always had it in for me. So I said scew it, Im leaving. He wouldn't let it go so I shot 'em in the ass. What of it. Instead of coming after me go find the dude who shot the deputy ya dummies.
    blackseoulon October 19, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSongs like this are so decadently good that I think they served to kind of create unrealistic expectations on the part of those young people who were religiously listening to them. Specifically, they had the effect of getting inside their head and making them think they were more substantial then what they maybe really were. It's like this one guy said, years ago, when we were sitting around listening to music.. He said that listening to the Beatles as a kid, causes you to grow up too fast. For me, what I was listening to, to expand upon that thought, it was all along the lines of the types of songs you'd hear on the soundtrack to a Scorsese film. Clapton, Stones, Beatles, Cream, Roxy Music.. plus stuff like Steely Dan, the Dead, the Eagles, Bowie, Neil Young, the Allmans, etc.. all this stuff that had a pretty heavy, decadent, many times dark, and almost, at times, a criminal overtone to it. Not exactly the kind of stuff that if you took it seriously would inspire you to live life at the foot of the cross. Anyway, I think there is a funny psychological mechanism there that I noticed over time. It's worth understanding as one goes back to trace their path in order to be better in order to learn more about how the mind can work, espcially during the early, more formative years. And how that can lend one advantages in the present, as well. All things to people like EC!
    caucasianon November 11, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhy is this listed under Clapton??? This is a Bob Marley song! I have nothing against covers and renditions, but this is a *song meaning* site! It's about interpreting lyrics, not discussing which version of a song sounds best. Unless an artist *significantly* changes the lyrics in his cover so that the meaning of the song actually changes, why on earth would anyone make redundant entries of the same song? Clapton's lyrics are almost identical to the original. So, aren't the meanings the same? On a site like this, there should be one entry per song, on the original artist's section. Or did someone enter this in Clapton's section being too ignorant to realize that it was actually a cover?
    JimmyCarlBlackon October 12, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGreat song .
    Just seems like someone killed the sheriff but spared the deputy in self defense .
    CAN SOMEBODY POST THE MEANING???????????????
    Justasongon November 27, 2017   Link
  • -1
    General Commentyea marleys did sound better but clapton did a great job covering it
    Painkilleron February 11, 2005   Link

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