Janie's Got a Gun

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"Water Song" redirects here. For the young adult fantasy novels, see Watersong. For songs titled "Water", see Water (disambiguation) § Songs.
"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
Length 5:38 (album)
5:28 (single)
Label Geffen
Writer(s) Steven Tyler and Tom Hamilton
Producer(s) Bruce Fairbairn
Aerosmith singles chronology
"Janie's Got a Gun"
"What It Takes"
Music sample

"Janie's Got a Gun" is a song performed by the 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 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1990, and also made it to number 2 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. The song also reached number-one in Australia, their first number-one single there, and one of two number-one singles for the band in that country. It reached number 12 in Sweden.

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]

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.


The song is one of 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.

Music video[edit]

The video, released in 1989, was directed by noted video director and later film director David Fincher. The video was banned from MTV due to it featuring gruesome, realistic scenes that would sometimes be utilized in subsequent videos of the 1990s. The video was made even more explicit by the abovementioned references to incest; early in the video, the actor playing the father is shown exiting his daughter's room, and cuts to a shot of the girl writhing in her bed, crying. 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. It is often erroneously attributed to "Weird Al" Yankovic. 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.

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.[5]

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



Charts (1989-1990) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[6] 1
Canada Top Singles (RPM) 2
Italy (FIMI)[7] 47
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[8] 13
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[9] 12
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company) 76
US Billboard Hot 100 4
US Billboard Album Rock Tracks 2
End of year chart (1990) Position
US Billboard Hot 100[10] 61

Rankings on lists[edit]

  • "Janie's Got a Gun" ranked #37 on VH1's 100 Greatest '80s Songs.
  • The video of "Janie's Got A Gun" ranked at #4 for the year of 1990 on MTV.
  • In 1993, "Rolling Stone: The Top 100 Music Videos" included "Janie" at #95.
  • In 1999, "MTV: 100 Greatest Videos Ever Made" included it at #48.
  • In 2001, "VH1: 100 Greatest Videos" included it at #48.


  1. ^ Raine-Reusch, Randy. "Aeromsith, Yes, Cranberries". asza.com. Retrieved 2016-05-23. 
  2. ^ http://www.rollingstone.com/music/pictures/readers-poll-the-10-best-aerosmith-songs-of-all-time-20121107/8-janies-got-a-gun-0242863
  3. ^ http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/talk-this-way-rolling-stones-1994-interview-with-aerosmiths-steven-tyler-20110427?page=4
  4. ^ 25th anniversary interview
  5. ^ "Am I Right - Song Parody Lyrics, Search". Amiright.com. 2006. Retrieved July 20, 2006. 
  6. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Aerosmith – Janie's Got a Gun". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  7. ^ "Hit Parade Italia - Indice per Interprete: A". Hit Parade Italia. Retrieved July 6, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Aerosmith – Janie's Got a Gun". Top 40 Singles.
  9. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Aerosmith – Janie's Got a Gun". Singles Top 100.
  10. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1990". Archived from the original on 2010-01-17. Retrieved 2009-09-15. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Love Shack" by The B-52's
Australian ARIA Singles Chart number-one single
February 17, 1990 - February 24, 1990
Succeeded by
"Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinéad O'Connor