This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
"This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us"
Starks - TTABEFTBOU.jpg
Single by Sparks
from the album Kimono My House and Plagiarism (1997 re-recording with Faith No More)'
B-side "Barbecutie"
Released 1974
Format 7-inch, 45 rpm
Recorded 1974
Genre Glam rock,[1] power pop
Length 3:06
Label Island Records
Writer(s) Ron Mael
Producer(s) Muff Winwood
Sparks chronology
"Girl from Germany"
"This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us"
"Amateur Hour"
Faith No More chronology
"This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us"
"I Started a Joke"
Music sample

"This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us" is a song written by Ron Mael of the American pop group Sparks. It is the opening track on their 1974 album Kimono My House, and was the lead single from the album, reaching number 2 in the UK singles chart.[2]

The original idea for the song was that after each verse Russell Mael would sing a movie dialogue cliché, one of which was "This town ain't big enough for the both of us". They dropped the idea of having different phrases and instead used only the one in the title. The original working title of the song was "Too Hot to Handle".

An acoustic version of the song was recorded in 1985 for the B-side of the "Change" single.

In 1997, Sparks recorded two new versions of the song. The first was an orchestral reworking produced by Tony Visconti which reinstated a verse producer Muff Winwood had cut from the original. The other was for their album Plagiarism as a collaboration with Faith No More, which was released as a single and reached number 40 in the British singles chart.

Winwood added the distinctive Western movie-style gunshots in the studio after a suggestion from Dave Hutchins, the engineer on the original track. Hutchins added the sound effect after the recorded track 'was missing something' and the effect is one he had used in a former job working for the BBC.

It has been claimed that Winwood bet with his friend Elton John that the song would become a top-five hit in the UK charts. Elton John bet that it would not; he lost.[3]

Track listing[edit]

  • 1974 original release.
  1. "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us – 3:06
  2. "Barbecutie – 3:10


Chart positions[edit]


Chart Certifications
(sales thresholds)
UK (Official Charts Company) BPI: Silver[12]

Musical style[edit]

The vocal sound on the single has been criticised as being "stylised". This may be because the song was written without any regard for the vocal style of Russell Mael. Songwriter Ron Mael has explained:

"This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both of Us" was written in A, and by God it'll be sung in A. I just feel that if you're coming up with most of the music, then you have an idea where it's going to go. And no singer is gonna get in my way.

Russell Mael has claimed in reply:

When he wrote "This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both of Us", Ron could only play it in that key. It was so much work to transpose the song and one of us had to budge, so I made the adjustment to fit in. My voice ain't a "rock" voice. It's not soulful, in the traditional rock way; It's not about "guts". It's untrained, unschooled, I never questioned why I was singing high. It just happened, dictated by the songs. Ron has always written Sparks' lyrics and never transposed them into a rock key for me to sing. He always packed each line with words and I had to sing them as they were.[13]

When the track was first recorded, the crew all felt that there was 'something missing', but could not decide what it was. Then engineer Dave Hutchins had an idea, raided the BBC (for whom he had previously worked) and added the distinctive gunshot effect. Winwood loved and approved the change, and the gunshot is now the signature of the song.

Cover versions[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

The song appears in a dream sequence in an episode of the British sitcom Green Wing. It is performed by two of the characters, Dr. "Mac" Macartney and Dr. Alan Statham, pretending to be Russell Mael and Ron Mael respectively.

The original Sparks version of the song is heard in the 2010 movie Kick-Ass.


  1. ^ Savage, Jon (1 February 2013). "The 20 best glam-rock songs of all time". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 May 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c "Sparks". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  3. ^ "Sparks - "This town ain't big enough for both of us" Single". Xavier Lorente-Darracq / Graphik Designs - France. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  4. ^ " – Sparks – This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  5. ^ "This town ain't big enough for both of us in French Chart" (in French). Dominic DURAND / InfoDisc. Retrieved 6 June 2013.  You have to use the index at the top of the page and search "Sparks"
  6. ^ " – Sparks – This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us". GfK Entertainment Charts.
  7. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Sparks search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
  8. ^ " – Sparks – This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  9. ^ " – Sparks – This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us". Swiss Singles Chart.
  10. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988-2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. 
  11. ^ "50 Back Catalogue Singles – 27 October 2012". Ultratop 50. Hung Medien. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  12. ^ "British certificates: searchable database". Retrieved 30 June 2010. 
  13. ^ The Word, No. 36, February 2006.
  14. ^ "Antonio variações - o corpo é que paga (semi-original)". YouTube. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  15. ^ Video on YouTube

External links[edit]