Janie's Got a Gun

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"Janie's Got a Gun"
Single by Aerosmith
from the album Pump
B-side "Voodoo Medicine Man"
Released September 20, 1989
Format Cassette, CD, 12" single, 7" single
Recorded 1989
Genre Hard rock, blues rock, glam metal
Length 5:38 (Album Version/With Water Song Instrumental)
5:28 (Single Version)
Label Geffen
Songwriter(s) Steven Tyler and Tom Hamilton
Producer(s) Bruce Fairbairn
Aerosmith singles chronology
"Janie's Got a Gun"
"What It Takes"

"Janie's Got a Gun"
"What It Takes"
Audio sample

"Janie's Got a Gun" is a song performed by American hard rock band Aerosmith and written by Steven Tyler and Tom Hamilton. It was originally titled "Danny's Got a Gun" after a close friend of Tyler, but was later changed. It was released as the second single from Pump in 1989. It peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1990, and also made it to number two on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. In Australia, the song reached number one, becoming Aerosmith's first of two number-one singles there. It also reached number two in Canada, number 12 in Sweden, and number 13 in New Zealand.

Song structure[edit]

On the album, "Janie's Got a Gun" is preceded by a 10-second instrumental called "Water Song", which features the work of instrumentalist Randy Raine-Reusch, who uses a glass harmonica, wind gong, and bullroarers to produce the special effects heard at the start of the song.[1]

Tyler came up with the main riff of "Janie's Got a Gun" using a low-tone setting on his keyboard. Hamilton then came up with the bassline. The guitars and drum parts were configured in later and Tyler wrote the lyrics. The guitar solo is played by Joe Perry and is accompanied by the main riff and rhythmic clapping.

Background and writing[edit]

The song is one of the few Aerosmith songs to deal with a heavy social issue. The lyrics are about a girl named Janie who takes revenge on her father after years of being sexually abused by him.

Tyler said he came up with the title and melody before he knew what direction he wanted the song to take. It had taken nine months to finish the lyrics; after Tyler read a Newsweek article on gunshot victims, he was able to connect the song with the theme of child abuse and incest.[2][3] The singer declared that "I got really angry that nobody was paying homage to those who were abused by Mom and Dad".[4] The line "He jacked a little bitty baby" was originally "He raped a little bitty baby," but was changed for commercial purposes. Tyler often sings the original line when performing live. In addition, the line "...and put a bullet in his brain" was sometimes changed to "...and left him in the pouring rain" for the radio airplay version to make the song sound less graphic.

Music video[edit]

The video, released in 1989, was directed by noted video director and later film director David Fincher. The actress playing Janie is Kristin Dattilo of The Chris Isaak Show fame. Actress Lesley Ann Warren played Janie's mother and actor Nicholas Guest played her father.


Covers and other versions[edit]

The song was parodied as "Elmo's Got a Gun" by Tommy & Rumble, about Sesame Street character Elmo going on a gruesome killing spree. The song appears on the duo's 1998 album Have a Cigar and has been featured in several fan-made music videos, mostly featured on YouTube. It's miscredited to "Weird Al" Yankovic.

In the 2001 comedy film Not Another Teen Movie, main character Jake is told that in order to seduce a classmate, Janie Briggs, he should sing her a song that features her name. Unfortunately, he chooses to sing "Janie's Got a Gun", which gets Janie tasered and arrested by campus police for suspicion of carrying a concealed weapon.

The song title was parodied on The Daily Show on February 13, 2006; at one point, while Jon Stewart and his "correspondents" were mocking the Dick Cheney hunting incident, a placard displayed the caption "Cheney's Got a Gun." A parody song of that same name was written by Bob Rivers and was featured on the website AtomFilms. Three other "Cheney's Got a Gun" parodies were submitted to the popular music parody website AmIRight, along with the Bob Rivers version of the parody.[16]

Steven Tyler re-recorded a version of the song for his 2016 solo studio album We're All Somebody from Somewhere.


  1. ^ Raine-Reusch, Randy. "Aeromsith, Yes, Cranberries". asza.com. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
  2. ^ https://www.rollingstone.com/music/pictures/readers-poll-the-10-best-aerosmith-songs-of-all-time-20121107/8-janies-got-a-gun-0242863
  3. ^ https://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/talk-this-way-rolling-stones-1994-interview-with-aerosmiths-steven-tyler-20110427?page=4
  4. ^ 25th anniversary interview
  5. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Aerosmith – Janie's Got a Gun". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  6. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 6713." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  7. ^ "Hit Parade Italia - Indice per Interprete: A". Hit Parade Italia. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  8. ^ "Charts.nz – Aerosmith – Janie's Got a Gun". Top 40 Singles.
  9. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Aerosmith – Janie's Got a Gun". Singles Top 100.
  10. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  11. ^ "Aerosmith Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  12. ^ "Aerosmith Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard.
  13. ^ "ARIA Charts - End Of Year Charts - Top 50 Singles 1990". ARIA. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  14. ^ "Top 100 Hit Tracks of 1990". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  15. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1990". Archived from the original on 2010-01-17. Retrieved 2009-09-15.
  16. ^ "Am I Right - Song Parody Lyrics, Search". Amiright.com. 2006. Retrieved July 20, 2006.

External links[edit]