Janie’s Got a Gun lyrics meaning

janie's got a gun album cover

Composed by Aerosmith vocalist Steven Tyler and bassist Tom Hamilton, “Janie’s Got a Gun” covered more serious subject matter than any of the band’s previous more hedonistic rock. The 3rd single off the band’s 10th album, Pump in 1989, “Janie’s Got a Gun,” was launched on Nov. 8, 1989, and went to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and made Aerosmith the very first Grammy award of their career for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group Vocal.

The Music

Tyler came up with the main riff, and Hamilton set the bass line for the song’s structure before guitar and drums were included. “Steven was available in and played ‘Janie’s Got a Gun’ one day at rehearsal, and all of us simply stood there,” stated Hamilton once the lyrics were finally set. “It resembled a see from the gods. There was something remarkable happening in that room.”

Behind the Lyrics

Tyler was motivated to compose “Janie’s Got a Gun” after reading two disconcerting posts– a Newsweek story on kid abuse and a Time story on weapon violence in the U.S. Tyler started writing the story of a young girl called Janie, who is sexually abused by her father and ultimately murders him. “I got distraught that no one was admiring those who were abused by Mom and Dad,” stated Tyler, who needed nine months to finish composing the lyrics for the song.

” I sat for months, waiting for the oracle door to open,” stated Tyler in a 1994 interview. “Then I looked over at a Time publication and saw this article on 48 hours, minute by minute, of handgun deaths in the United States.”

Assessing weapon violence, Tyler began to discover the much more profound meaning behind the song he was trying to compose and its lyrics. “I’d heard this lady discussing how many kids are assaulted by their mothers and dads,” said Tyler. “It was fucking frightening. I felt, ‘male, I got ta sing about this.'”.

Changing the Lyrics

Initially, the song had the line “Daddy’s Got a Gun” before Tyler changed the gender and focused the music on “Janie.” Some of the initial lyrics were considered too graphic– he raped a little bitty infant … and put a bullet in his brain– so the band switched the words to he jacked a little bitty infant, and she left him in the putting rain.

” I knew it was a big hit, certainly among Tyler’s best minutes as a songwriter,” said John Kalodner, head of Aerosmith’s label, in the band’s autobiography, “Walk This Way.” It was a work of art, a work of art and so strange. He Tyler went crazy when I told him it wouldn’t get used on business radio with the word ‘rape.’ He didn’t wish to take it out, and there was a battle.”.


” Janie’s Got a Gun” is preceded by the 10-second important “Water Song” on Pump, performed by instrumentalist Randy Raine-Reusch, who used a wind gong, bullroarers, and a glass harmonica to develop the unique results for the piece.

Janie’s Fund

More than two decades after the release of the song, Tyler established Janie’s Fund in collaboration with Youth Villages in 2015, nonprofit supporting girls who have struggled with abuse and disregard. Tyler’s 4th Annual Grammy Awards Viewing Party in 2022 benefited Janie’s Fund and raised a record-breaking $4.6 million for the cause.

In 2017, Tyler also opened the first Janie’s House, a home for mistreated women in Atlanta, and a 2nd in 2019, located at Youth Villages in Bartlett, Tennessee.

” I’m gonna bring this Janie’s Fund with me any place I go,” stated Tyler during the opening event of the brand-new Janie’s House in Tennessee. “It’s like a dream come to life.”.

He added, “This does my heart and soul good. This is real.”.

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