Tommy’s Got a Gun

Hunter S. ThompsonOn February 20, 2005, author Hunter S. Thompson killed himself at his home near Aspen, Colorado. That day also happened to be my son’s 14th birthday and he has become a big fan of Thompson’s work (as is evident in this 2010 piece that he wrote).

Anyway, I remember feeling disgusted when I heard the news because he did it while his sonm grandson, and daughter-in-law were in the house and while on the phone with his wife. Aside from my normal repulsion towards suicide, I also found the “grandiose” gesture was a lame attempt to replicate Ernest Hemingway and try to cement his legacy as a rebellious folk hero. I was moved to write some starter lyrics just days after the suicide;

The Hunter could not stand it no more
Couldn’t stand his Aspen slums
He pranced about like a dignitary
But his heart paled to that of a bum
It was so easy to travel the “Heming” way
He reached out with both arms and he embraced surrender
For he could see no solace in yet another cheap bender
No longer was it easy to face the setting sun…

I labeled the new poem “Tommy’s Got a Gun” but soon forgot about it. About four years later, I came across the lyrics and started developing music. Based on a simple, five note riff I worked out an arrangement with my band Animal Society and turned the lyrics into a proper song. To add the remaining necessary lyrics, I went directly to Thompson’s suicide suicide note and lifted some lines verbatim;

Football season is over now, there will be no more games
No more bombs, no more walking, no more fun…
You are getting greedy now, act your old age
17 more than we needed, 17 more than we wanted
Relax, this won’t hurt…

The song never quite worked out for Animal Society but was included on Imaginary Lines 33, with Erik Trabert providing the layered electric guitars and Rons Simasek on drums. Hunter S. Thompson received a full co-writing credit, one his last ever.

Listen to the Song:

Ric Albano

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