Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner

Words & Music:

Warren Zevon


Am           C                                     F

Roland was a warrior from the land of the midnight sun.

         C                      G

With his Thompson gun for hire, fighting to be done.

Am                   C                            F

The deal was made in Denmark on a dark and stormy day.

                   F         C        G      Am

So, he set out for Biafra to join the bloody fray.


Through '66 and 7, they fought the Congo war.

With their fingers on their triggers, knee deep in gore.

For days and nights they battled the Bantu to their knees.

They killed to earn their living and to help out the Congolese.



F           C        G     Am

Roland, the Thompson gunner.

Roland, the Thompson gunner.


His comrades fought beside him, Van Owen and the rest.

But of all the Thompson gunners, Roland was the best.

So, the CIA decided they wanted Roland dead.

That son of a bitch Van Owen blew off Roland's head.



C           G                      F            Am

Roland, the headless Thompson gunner,

     (simultaneously:  Time, time, time, for another peaceful war.)

C                          G

Norway's bravest son.

     (simultaneously:  But time stands still for Roland, 'til he evens up the score.)

         Am    G       C             G        F           Am

They can still see his headless body stalking through the night.

       C               G                 Am

In the muzzle flash of Roland's Thompson gun.

In the muzzle flash of Roland's Thompson gun.


Roland searched the continent for the man who'd done him in.

He found him in Mombassa, in a barroom drinking gin.

Roland aimed his Thompson gun, he didn't say a word.

But he blew Van Owen's body from there to Johannesburg.


CHORUS:  [2x]


The eternal Thompson gunner, still wandering through the night.

Now it's ten years later, but he still keeps up the fight.

In Ireland, in Lebanon, in Palestine and Berkeley.

Patty Hearst heard the burst of Roland's Thompson gun and bought it.


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