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Music Playlist: Songs That Contain Gunfire

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You can listen to these songs here.

The ultimate percussion instrument is probably the handgun. We all know the role the gun plays in film, but it also has a place in music. However, the gunshot sound is utilized only by a small fraction songs in comparison to the attention it receives on the big screen.
Granted, most gunshot sounds in music fall squarely within the gangster rap genre, where lyrics dealing with violence take center stage.
Although these are well represented in this playlist, it has been overdone in rap music to the point of becoming mostly uninteresting.

The gunshot sounds I find the most fascinating come from other genres. I will highlight a few here:

The first track in this playlist is my favorite-recorded gunshot of all time.
At the 1 minute and 14 second mark of the Pink Floyd song The Final Cut from the album of the same name, you’ll hear an explosive gunshot that was recorded live followed by an audible “woo hoo”.
The best part of this gunshot is that it’s used as a climax. The music slowly builds with a string section until… BOOM, the gun goes off. It still makes me jump to this day, even though I’ve heard it a thousand times.
What’s also interesting is that the printed lyrics show a line that’s not audible under this gunshot, which ties it all back to Pink Floyd’s classic concept album “The Wall“.

And if I’m in I’ll tell you what’s behind the wall

The second track in this playlist is the soulful Bill Withers track “Better Off Dead” from the album “Just As I Am“. The lyrics are sung in the first person by an extremely depressed, suicidal man.

“she couldn’t stand me any more, so she just took the kids and went”
“she’s better off without me, and I’m better off dead now that she’s gone.”

At the very end of the song he doesn’t finish the chorus, “I’m better off dead…”, BOOM. The gunshot ends the song and makes quite a statement in the process.

The third song is a bit different in that it was never planned to be recorded. Devendra Banhart’s song “Cosmos and Demos” from the album Oh Me Oh My… features a gunshot that you will first hear at about :24 seconds into the song.

The following dialogue is from an interview with Devendra Banhart about the gunshot by Alexander Laurence.

Alexander Laurence: I heard a door shutting or a gunshot during one song.

Devendra Banhart: There’s all kinds of things going on. None of that is coordinated. I was in a room and the window happened to be open, and a car went by. One day, it was Bastille Day in France, so there were fireworks going off. While I was playing I saw a guy walk up to a door, pull out a gun, knock on the door, go into a room, and then a gunshot went off. That was recorded because I was recording a song.

I could not verify if this was true or just a brilliant marketing strategy. I would love to know what happened to that guy and if anyone was hurt.

The complete playlist of songs with gunshots is below; please help out and add tracks that are missing.

1. The Final Cut – Pink Floyd
2. Better Off Dead – Bill Withers
3. Cosmos and Demos – Devendra Banhart
4. Son Of Sam – Dead Boys
5. Gunz Yo – Sage Francis
6. Bitch Please II – Eminem
7. Natural Born Killaz – Dr. Dre/Ice Cube
8. Let’s Shoot Dove – Cledus T. Judd
9. Made You Look – Nas
10. Dear Sweet Impaler – Park
11. Gunshot – Akon
12. Tha Shoot Out – dC
13. 24 Hrs. To Live (featuring The Lox, Black Rob & DMX) – Mase
14. Shoot Outs – Jadakiss
15. Gunshot – The Dope Factory

Robert Burke spends much of his time lovingliy crafting thematic music playlists at the Rhapsody Radish

About Robert of the Radish

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    Interesting – how many have actual and not staged gunshots? As in, a gun goes off – shooting at something or someone, but not part of the song itself

  • http://draven99.blogspot.com Chris Beaumont

    Richard Cheese’s version of Been Caught Stealing
    Green Jello’s Three Little Pigs

  • http://www.musicradish.com Robert

    Aaron, good question. I think only the Devendra Banhart was recorded unintentionally. But even though it was unintentional, he used the sound over and over in the song when he mixed it. So even that one was intentionally used, even if not intentionally recorded. The rest were definitely created to be part of the songs. I would like to know which were “real”, meaning recorded during the project with a real gun and which were just samples.

  • http://www.scopecreep.com Robert

    HAHA, I just heard the Richard Cheese song. he shoots the dog! funny stuff.

  • http://MKNish67@yahoo.com The Dude

    What about “Shotgun” by Junior Parker and the All-Stars? That Motown song starts off with ta gunshot.

  • http://booklinker@hotmail.com deano

    What about “Friends of Mr. Cairo” by Vangelis from the eighties? Lots of tommy-gun action in that one…

  • http://www.dorksandlosers.com Tan The Man

    Sure are a lot of rap songs…

  • http://www.livejournal.com/users/tiffleigh/ Tiffany Leigh

    Ice Cube on several tracks on his albums come to mind, especially “The Predator” and “Lethal Injection” LP’s…

    And of course this won’t help a bit, but I remember a song sampling from the film “To Kill A Mockingbird” the part where Scout slowly counts out loud, right before her father Atticus shoots a rabid dog in the street. I *want* to say it’s St. Etienne, but I’m sure that’s wrong, and Googling it did no good.

  • http://www.genericmugwump.blogspot.com/ Aaron Fleming

    How about the gunfire at the start of One by Metallica.

  • http://dacker77@hotmail.com godoggo

    Guns Fever by Baba Brooks. I have this one one of them Trojan compilations.

  • http://dacker77@hotmail.com godoggo

    Also there’s that Unknown Soldier by them Doors.

  • Dave Nalle

    Where do you put songs which have drums simulating gunfire, as with Tommygun by The Clash?

    Dave

  • carlito

    Rush`s instrumental YYZ has some cool sound effects, however I am not sure it has gunfire. I think it does.

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    i believe that the bit that sounds like gunfire in YYZ is actually Neil Peart whackin’ a chair with a piece of plywood.

  • http://www.musicradish.com Robert Burke

    I would love to create a list with only REAL gunshots. meaning recorded live for the song.

  • http://freewayjam.blogspot.com uao

    Here’s a few more:

    Paul McCartney & Wings: Oh Woman Oh Why (sounds like a cap gun)
    U2: Desire [Hollywood Remix] (accompanied by a clip of a news report of a shooting)
    The Byrds: Draft Morning (sounds of battle)
    The Doors: Unknown Soldier (firing squad)
    Band of Gypsies: Machine Gun (Hendrix fakes gunfire on his guitar)

  • http://www.musicradish.com Robert

    Thanks uao! I think we may have enoough for a thesis!

  • carlito

    Almost forgot, Roger Water`s “Perfect Sense”, lots of guns and explosions! Awesome song.

  • http://limulus_polyphemus@hotmail.com JR

    AC/DC – “For Those About To Rock…”

  • J. P. Spencer

    uao, good catch on “Draft Morning” by The Byrds. From that same era, find the song “Keep Your Mind Open” by Kaleidoscope, which fades out with gunfire. What a great studio touch!

  • http://freewayjam.blogspot.com uao

    And good catch on “Keep Your Mind Open”, I forgot all about those guys. Side Trips used to be one of my favorite 60′s artefacts.

  • http://www.scopecreep.com/Rhapsody/ Robert

    >>AC/DC – “For Those About To Rock…”

    That will go on the playlist titled “Songs With Cannonfire”

  • http://freewayjam.blogspot.com uao

    Here’s one more good one:

    “Corruption” by the Plasmatics. Includes real gunfire, shot into the studio wall with a real gun.

  • http://www.google.com The one

    50 cent – heat

    the best tune everrr

  • Xmiz

    At the end of Guilty Conscience by Eminem and at the end of Ruff Riders Anthem.

  • jan z.

    and here’s another one

    Body Count – Body Count’s in the House

  • Jenni

    I’m looking for a song, actually.
    I was sitting in a bar and I heard this rap song with 2 gunshots in between every hook.

    I’m sure this doesn’t narrow it down much, but if it sounds familiar to you, I’d really like to know what it is.

    Thanks.

  • Sara

    Agree with #27 comment, looking for the same song

  • Katey

    i agree with 27 also.
    its bugging me i wanna know what that song is.

  • rsp5013

    bone thugs n harmony – thug life has some sweet pistol shots in it too

  • rsp5013

    also M.I.A. – paper planes

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    The Hit Man by Create & Devastate.

  • Charlie

    Just got a CD sampler with the new Drowning Pool song “Soldiers,” which happens to contain gunfire in the middle of the song. It’s a good heavy number (but I wish the lyrics were better). Nice comeback for a band whose original singer died a few years back in a drug overdose.

    They also played for the USO – not a surprise given this pro-troops song – recently made a GREAT ad rightfully blasting Bill O’Reilly for wrongly telling the Associated Press that the USO does hardly any shows for our troops overseas.

  • Charlie

    Actually, I should correct myself. DP’s original singer Dave Williams reportedly died of a form of heart disease (not a drug overdose as I said earlier). At least, that’s what DP’s Wikipedia entry says.

  • Katey

    i think the song im looking for is more recent

    like idk what the words are but i know it goes like

    line of word *pause* bang bang
    then more words. uggg

  • chelsea

    i found the song your looking for.

    its thug luv by bone thugs n harmony ft. tupac

  • mark mark

    i’m looking for a song as well. it’s not gangsta’ rap
    it’s more like.. alternative? emo? idk how to describe it. rock perhaps… whatever
    its goes like: words *gun gets cocked* shot shot shot shot.
    i heard it in the music store but it didn’t occur to me to ask what it was until i left =/
    any help? leads?

  • Katey

    thug luv was the song i was looking for

    THANK YOUUUUUUUUUUU

  • ggggggg man

    1 shot 2 shot eminem

  • jabee

    thanks for the song # 31. that’s the song i was looking for.

  • ezthereturbo23

    M.I.A. – Paper Planes

  • Marcia Neil

    ‘Pink Floyd’ et al is an album theme and you are hearing recorded vocal ‘gutshots’.

  • sss

    please name some tupac songs with gunfire that have him and another rapper with a really deep voice.. talking about snitches or something???? help me out!!

  • forked tongue

    “Shots” by Neil Young & Crazy Horse has crazy machine-gun fire as a duetting lead instrument with the guitar. I can’t tell whether it’s real or synthesized, though.

  • Dave

    For Those About To Rock – AC/DC includes cannon fire (21 gun salute)