KudoZ home » English » Art/Literary

Happiness is a warm gun

English translation: Here are some interpretations I copied from the leolyrics site

Advertisement

Login or register (free and only takes a few minutes) to participate in this question.

You will also have access to many other tools and opportunities designed for those who have language-related jobs
(or are passionate about them). Participation is free and the site has a strict confidentiality policy.
10:38 Jun 29, 2003
English to English translations [PRO]
Art/Literary
English term or phrase: Happiness is a warm gun
This is the song by the Beatles. The origin of the song is that George Martin, their producer, found an advertisement in a magazine ( I think this was a magazine on guns) which said Happiness is a warm gun.

How to interpret this phrase in the context of the ad and the song as well?
Lacrimosa
Local time: 00:05
English translation:Here are some interpretations I copied from the leolyrics site
Explanation:
http://www.leoslyrics.com/listlyrics.php?hid=gMYri4XYbvA=

From what I've heard this was Lennon's feelings on American gun control. When a gun is fired, it becomes warm. The article name which he got it from was titled "Happiness is a warm gun in your hands". Saying, firing a gun (or maybe even killing someone) brings happiness to some.
There lyrics are weird, but the message is perfectly clear I'd say.

Stephen Mar 11, 2003 @ 07:48 AM
Happiness is a warm gun is a nonsensical comment, John saw it in a magazine and thought it was a great phrase. It doesn't strictly mean anything and is not refering to heroin or any other drugs.
Its just a great saying! like Tomorrow never knows, a hard days night, eight days a week, within you, without you, etc
Regardless, its fabness as with everything by the fab four.

Anonymous Feb 23, 2003 @ 06:38 AM
what was the point in that. i think we're all here because the fucking lyrics are already here. a warm gun could mean something different to everyone. does it give you happiness?-is the question...



--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2003-06-29 11:00:57 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Finally, I should add that I heard a warm gun is supposed to be a heroin syringe, which is what Stephen is denying above.
Selected response from:

William Stein
Costa Rica
Local time: 16:05
Grading comment
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

Advertisement


Summary of answers provided
4 +7Interpreting song lyrics is a bit tricky....
jerrie
4 +4Some additional comments from those involved and others
Nikita Kobrin
4 +3lyrics and history follow
Michael Powers (PhD)
4 +2Here are some interpretations I copied from the leolyrics site
William Stein
5drug use references mixed with sexual references
airmailrpl


  

Answers


3 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +3
lyrics and history follow


Explanation:
Beatles - Happiness Is A Warm Gun lyrics
She's not a girl who misses much
Do do do do do do do do
She's well acquainted with the touch of the velvet hand
Like a lizard on a window pane.

The man in the crowd with the multicoloured mirrors
On his hobnail boots
Lying with his eyes while his hands are busy
Working overtime
A soap impression of his wife which he ate
And donated to the Nation Trust.

I need a fix 'cause I'm going down
Down to the bits that I left uptown
I need a fix cause I'm going down
Mother Superior jump the gun
Mother Superior jump the gun
Mother Superior jump the gun
Mother Superior jump the gun.

Happiness is a warm gun
Happiness is a warm gun
When I hold you in my arms
And I feel my finger on your trigger
I know no one can do me no harm
Because happiness is a warm gun
-Yes it is.



--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 8 mins (2003-06-29 10:46:45 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

General Points of Interest
Style and Form
This song represents a most intriguing formal experiment, one that you might describe as a \"teleological medley\". It manages to project an integrated impression in ironic spite of its acyclical form, and varied sequence of styles, and meters. The Beatles\' ultimate grand example of this formal approach is, of course, the \"Huge Melody\" that ends \"Abbey Road\", but, it\'s this track on which you hear it first!

In contrast to the \"Abbey Road\" medley, where most of the sections could survive extraction from their immediate context to serve as an independent \"numbers\" per se, you find here, with perhaps the exception of the final \"title\" section, that the individual components are quite fragmentary and rely heavily on immediate repetition of a single idea to establish any sense of formal autonomy. There\'s not quite enough substance in any of them to stand on their own; otherwise you just might go as far as calling this a \"suite\"; which latter term, now that I think of it, would be appropriate for \"Abbey Road\".

The primary force that holds it together and prevents it from otherwise sounding like a random grab bag is the modulated development of intensity and mood created by the specific sequencing of the sections; each new section builds on what has preceded it while adding something new. Secondarily, the changes of meter either between or within every section establish themselves as a kind of leitmotif.

In both his \"Recording Sessions\" and his liner notes to \"Anthology\", Volume 3, Lewisohn blithely asserts that this track is made up of three songs. From where does he get it? I count four, at least.

Melody and Harmony
The song finishes up in a mid-fifties cliché-saturated dialect of C Major. The introductory three sections establish the relative minor key of a in droning, modal-rather-than-tonal harmonic terms. Note how the opening chord of the piece is an a-minor seventh which, just like its close cousin, the C Major added sixth, combines the triads of both the Major key and its relative minor in a single chord; see our comments on this phenomenon back in the likes of such early efforts as \"Ask Me Why\", \"Do You Want To Know A Secret\", and the forever emblematic \"She Loves You\".

Also note the extent to which the melodic material frequently incorporates pentatonic-like riffs that couple the two related triads together; dig the second and third parts in particular.

Arrangement
The sequential nature of the form carries through to the handling of the instrumentation:

First part, first section: Features plucked guitar arpeggios, bass guitar, and single track vocal. A drum crescendo starts from nothing in last measure and leads into next section.
First part, last section: Adds percussion and chordal chops on guitar. The vocal overdub in the last two phrases sounds like John.
Second part: Is characterized by the fuzz guitar and cymbal slashes, the latter falling on every second measure. The vocal overdub here sounds like it could be Paul.
Third part: Adds tambourine. Vocally starts off with John single tracked but with Paul joining him in the second phrase.
Fourth part: Features a trio of backing vocals, some of whose phrases make for clever by-play with lead vocal; sometimes as counterpoint, sometimes as a sustained background wash, and even sometimes making a hocket with lead. At the very bottom of the instrumental track there is what sounds a lot like a bowed bass fiddle; perhaps I\'m hearing the tuba part that Lewisohn says was mostly mixed out.
It\'s no surprise that the ensemble should sound a bit rickety-ragged in places, given the constant changes of meter and use of unequal phrasing.

Section-by-Section Walkthrough
First Part: \"She\'s Not A Girl Who Misses Much\"
The track opens with two phrases that project an AA, even-lengthed symmetry. I analyze them as though they were clearly in the home key of a minor, but this is an after-thought considered in light of the rest of what follows. In all honesty, you probably hear this opening as if it were a plagal (i.e. iv -» i) cadence in a home key of e minor:

--------------- 2X ----------------
|a7 |- |e |- |
a: i v

[Figure 136.1]
This placid opening is counter-balanced by a definite increase intensity and an implied transposition of the opening iv -» i chord progression to the key of a minor; not to mention our first example in the track what the old computer game, \"Adventure\", described as twisty passages, \"all different\":

|d |- |- |a |- |
a: iv i

|d |- |a |- |
iv i

|d |- |a |- |
iv i

-half-
|d |- |- |a |- |
iv i

[Figure 136.2]
Granted, the middle two phrases of this quatrain are four-square, but the first phrase is longer by a full measure, and the final one is extended in its middle by a half-measure. This particular sequencing cleverly deprives the section of all symmetry, in spite of the fact that two phrases are identical to each other! To understand this a bit more clearly, contemplate how much more symmetry could be added here if the identical phrases were deployed in either in any of the following positions: 1/3, 2/4, 1/2, 3/4 -- instead of the 2/3 configuration we are given.

You might argue that what I\'ve labeled a d-minor chord above is more to be more precisely analyzed as a half-diminished seventh chord on b in its \"first\" (or 6/5) inversion; i.e. ii6/5, instead of iv. However, I\'m parsing it with d as the root because I hear the root movement in terms of iv -» i; especially because of the way it parallels the first sub-section above.

The very last measure of this section is one of the more conspicuous rough edges in the ensemble playing, as if one or more of the players was already shifting into 3/4.

Second Part: \"I Need A Fix (\'Cause I\'m Going Down)\"
We transition from the ranting march-beat rhetoric of the last section of the first part into a heavy-but-flowing, bluesy waltz in which the same eleven-measure phrase is repeated twice.

This time our sense of differing twisty passages comes from both the wobbly 3 + 4 + 4 phrase structure, and the fact that the vocal line does not literally repeat the guitar line. You might say the vocal variation is the one that more clearly projects the pseudo ABA inner structure of the eleven measure phrase:

Guitar: |E G E |C A C |E DCA |
Vocal: |E G E |C A C |E DCA |
Chords: |a |- |- |
a: i

|E G E |C A C |E G |EDE |
|E G E |C A C |E G |E G |
|- |- |- |- |

|G |C A C |E DCA |- |
|E G E |C A C |E DCA |- |
|c |- |a |- |
III i

[Figure 136.3]
There\'s a quarter-tone-flat blues spin applied to several of the E-naturals in this section; an effect that appears nowhere else in the song.

Third Part: \"Mother Superior Jumped The Gun\"
This third part is characterized by a special rhythmic effect that occurs in the first measure of every phrase, technically referred to as a \"hemiola\". The term is applied to any situation in which a phrase of music written in a ternary meter (e.g. 3/4) contains one or more instances where either an isolated single measure is accented as if were two triplets (i.e. 6/8), or a pair of measures are accented as if they were three measures of 2/4. If you\'re at a loss for a pop-music precedent, try \"America\" from Leonard Bernstein\'s \"West Side Story\".

This part is built out of three phrase pairs, the second of which is consistently one beat longer than the first; is it John or Mr. Martin who proposed such details?

6/8 3/4
|a |C |- |
a: i III

6/8 3/4 4/4
|a |G |- |
i flat-VII

[Figure 136.4]
Notic how this part resonates subtly-if-not-surprisingly with the last section of the first part both in terms of mood as well as melodic emphasis on the \"B-A\" motif.

The individualized, unique contribution of this part is the introduction of the flat-VII chord.

Fourth Part: \"Happiness Is A Warm Gun (Bang-Bang, Shoot-Shoot)\"
By virtue of its full-fledged, albeit clichéd, harmonic progression, the song finally arrives in this section for its big finish; the rest of the track to this point left to serve a multi-faceted introduction. And based on all the preceding material, who, indeed, would have expected this doo-wop, harmonic cliché as our ultimate destiny?

So here, in spite of all strangeness, we find the old I -» vi -» IV -» V over and over and over (again), with one penultimate tip of the hat to the dramatic (but equally \"old\") minor iv chord:

4/4 --------- 2X ----------------
|C |a |F |G |
C: I vi IV V

3/4 --------- 3X ----------------
|C |a |F |G |
I vi IV V

4/4 --------- 2X ----------------
|C |a |F |G |
I vi IV V

4/4
|f |- |- |- |
iv

4/4 --------- 2X ----------------
|C |a |F |G |
I vi IV V

[Figure 136.5]
The three phrases in 3/4 here are the are the most raggedly performed in the entire track; poor Ringo particularly sounds like he\'s struggling.

The phrase on the f-minor chord sounds almost as though performed ad libitum, but I believe on hears it as if it fills approximately the four measures I\'ve given it above.

Some Final Thoughts
During the last seconds of the finished mix, the engineer suddenly lifted the faders just before the final chord had completely died away, thus adding punctuation-like heft to the one last drum beat.

It\'s an effect that uncannily reminds me of the sound you hear in recordings of eighteenth century keyboard music performed on very large period harpsichords; the kind with two keyboards and still more registers and color stops. The performer holds down the keys to the final chord, waiting for the sound to fade almost completely away, and then releases the all the keys at once, allowing the jacks to make their own hefty \"thunk\" as they fall upon the damped strings.

And lest you think this association has nothing to do with the Beatles, I should point out that François Couperin Le Grand, a composer whose keyboard pieces count among some of the most idiomatically indigenous music written for such large harpsichords, held a long term post as the official court keyboard teacher to the household of the Sun King.

Regards,

Alan (110997#136)



--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 12 mins (2003-06-29 10:51:00 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Ironically, Lennon, later killed by a gun in the US, wrote the lyrics:

Happiness is a Warm Gun (cont.)
. . . . . .
In a gun culture such as the United States, the very availability of guns has resulted in murders and suicides of numerous pop stars, the most high profile being john Lennon, murdered in New York on December 8, 1980.

A disturbed fan, Mark Chapman, waited outside the Dakota Building where John lived, and when John arrived, he dropped into the crouch known as the \"combat position\", and emptied his gun into John. John was hit twice in the back, twice in the shoulder. He died shortly afterwards.

Ironically, it was John Lennon who wrote the number \"Happiness Is a Warm Gun,\" featured on the Beatles\' White Album. Beatles recording manager George Martin had shown John the cover of an American gun magazine that had the caption \"Happiness is a warm gun in your hand.\" John thought it was an outrageous title. \"A warm gun means you\'ve just shot something,\" he said. Some have speculated that if John had remained in London instead of settling in New York, he\'d be alive today. A theory derived from the fact that guns are so readily available in America.

These days, however, with gun battles on the streets of London and the proliferation of gangs battling for control of drug trade and prostitution, London has allegedly become a city that is proportionately riddled with even more violent crime than New York. And while most gun deaths involving musicians have taken place in the U.S., at least two have happened in Britain.

Michael Holliday was the first Liverpool artist to reach No. 1 in the British charts. His chart toppers included \"Starry Eyed\" and \"The Story of My Life.\" He committed suicide by shooting himself on October 29, 1963.

Then, on February 3, 1967, the talented Joe Meek, the U.K.\'s first major independent record producer, who was responsible for \"Telstar\", a chart-topper on both sides of the Atlantic, shot his landlady in the back and then turned the shotgun on himself.

Another tragic incident occurred on August 31, 1975, when Protestant gunmen ambushed and killed the members of the Miami Showband in Northern Ireland.

Baron Frederick Von Pallandt was one half of the popular folk duo Nina & Frederick, whose hits included \"Mary\'s Boy Child\" and \"Little Donkey.\" He was assassinated by a gunman in the Philippines in May, 1994.

Among the new gun menaces in London are the Jamaican yardies, fighting for control over drug territory. They have brought their gun culture over from Jamaica.

Peter Tosh, a founding member of the Wailers with Bob Marley, who received a Grammy award as \"Best Reggae Artist,\" was shot dead in his home in Kingston, Jamaica, along with two friends, on September 11, 1987. Earlier the same year, Barrett Carlton, the Wailers\' drummer, was shot dead outside his home in the same city.

And yet, America is the true home of gun violence in today\'s world.

Kurt Cobain seemed to have everything to live for. The highly successful Leader of Nirvana, he was married to singer Courtney Love, and the couple had a daughter, Frances Bean. Yet, on April 5, 1995, he obtained a Remington .20 shotgun from a friend and shot himself in the head. He left a note that read, \"It\'s better to burn out than to fade away.\"

Del Shannon, whose nine chart hits included \"Runaway\" and \"Hats Off to Larry\" was found dead at his home in Santa Clarita, California on February 8, 1990, the victim of self-inflicted gunshot wounds.

Paul Williams, of the successful Motown group The Temptations, was forced by alcohol problems to leave the group. Plagued by financial and marital difficulties, he was found dead in his car on August 17, 1997, having shot himself in the head.



--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 17 mins (2003-06-29 10:55:24 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

This is the first Internet link from which the text was copied:

Beatles - Happiness Is A Warm Gun song lyrics
Beatles - Happiness Is A Warm Gun lyrics. ...
www.musicsonglyrics.com/B/Beatles/ Beatles%20-%20Happiness%20Is%20A%20Warm%20Gun%20lyrics.htm - 10k - Cached -

This is the second Internet link from which the text was copied:



--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 17 mins (2003-06-29 10:55:40 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Alan W. Pollack\'s Notes on \"Happiness Is A Warm Gun\"
... Notes on \"Happiness Is A Warm Gun\". Key: C Major, converged upon from
a minor Meter: Various Form: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | | Part ...

Michael Powers (PhD)
United States
Local time: 18:05
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 1174

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  gianfranco: A link to the text you copied here would have been sufficient. The only detail you did not copy is the copyright notice...
8 mins
  -> Good point - after reading your comment, I am in the process of giving the links. It was never my intent not to give credit. Thank you. Mike :)

agree  mary bueno
34 mins
  -> thank you, Mary - Mike :)

neutral  Nikita Kobrin: I'm afraid it's too much and most of it is not exactly to the point. You had tî weed out the unnecessary data.
1 hr

agree  Rusinterp: a lot of effort went into this...
7 hrs

agree  roneill: Interesting!
17 hrs

neutral  Chris Rowson: I love the musicological analysis, though I´m not sure the "first inversion half-diminshed seventh chord" is stylistically congruent. But what is the relevance of Couperin`s appointment?
18 hrs
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

19 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +2
Here are some interpretations I copied from the leolyrics site


Explanation:
http://www.leoslyrics.com/listlyrics.php?hid=gMYri4XYbvA=

From what I've heard this was Lennon's feelings on American gun control. When a gun is fired, it becomes warm. The article name which he got it from was titled "Happiness is a warm gun in your hands". Saying, firing a gun (or maybe even killing someone) brings happiness to some.
There lyrics are weird, but the message is perfectly clear I'd say.

Stephen Mar 11, 2003 @ 07:48 AM
Happiness is a warm gun is a nonsensical comment, John saw it in a magazine and thought it was a great phrase. It doesn't strictly mean anything and is not refering to heroin or any other drugs.
Its just a great saying! like Tomorrow never knows, a hard days night, eight days a week, within you, without you, etc
Regardless, its fabness as with everything by the fab four.

Anonymous Feb 23, 2003 @ 06:38 AM
what was the point in that. i think we're all here because the fucking lyrics are already here. a warm gun could mean something different to everyone. does it give you happiness?-is the question...



--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2003-06-29 11:00:57 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Finally, I should add that I heard a warm gun is supposed to be a heroin syringe, which is what Stephen is denying above.

William Stein
Costa Rica
Local time: 16:05
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 36

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Nikita Kobrin
1 hr

agree  Rusinterp
6 hrs
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

27 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +7
Interpreting song lyrics is a bit tricky....


Explanation:
"Lennon was a man who had seen an ad that said, "Happiness is a warm gun" and he asked in interviews, "Why is it warm? Because it's just been fired."

The White Album is alleged to be the Beatles at their most drug-addled best, so the lyrics aren't necessarily going to make sense. Just random snippets of bits and pieces that come into the head.

A warm gun is a gun that has just been fired (so trigger happy people / people that like to shoot for whatever reason...gun club members, hit-men, psychos are going to be 'happy' after firing a gun).

Since John was all for 'peace', 'anti-war'...this could be irony!

Also I think their are definite sexual connotations here too....(hands on triggers, something being 'happy' when it has just been 'fired' etc).

To 'jump the gun' is to set off to quickly, get off to a false start, leap in too quickly, get it all wrong.

Some ideas, anyway.
hth

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2003-06-29 12:50:47 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

http://www.lettertoamerica.com/pages/faq-bio.html

For ref. re: sexual connotations.
Agree William re: warm gun = syringe/methods of taking heroin

So, this gives a heady mix of Sex Drugs Murder....amongst other things!

jerrie
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:05
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 773

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  xxxIno66
9 mins

agree  Nikita Kobrin
1 hr

agree  Nancy Arrowsmith: even if they were drug addled, the sex part is there, and it is a phrase that sticks in the head, which is what the gun advertisers wanted
4 hrs
  -> Thanks

agree  Chris Rowson: Ummm, ... *fingers on triggers. I remember when this came out. We didnt know about the gun ad, and it never occurred to us that a literal connection with guns was involved. :-)
17 hrs
  -> I never really thought about what the lyrics meant...I just thought it was a 'top' tune!

agree  Tony M: Yes, the sexual metaphor was the first one that came to my mind (oh dear...!)
1 day2 hrs
  -> Oh dear indeed! (It seems very obvious, though, when you think about it!!)

agree  Empty Whiskey Glass
2 days10 hrs

agree  J. Leo
2 days23 hrs
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

53 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5
drug use references mixed with sexual references


Explanation:
warm gun - used hypodermic syringe

Drug Slang Dictionary Search Results:
Searching for the word 'gun' and returning all matching entries

firing the ack ack gun technique for smoking heroin by dipping tip of a tobacco cigarette in heroin (Asian slang)
Emergency gun => instrument used to inject other than syringe
Glass gun => hypodermic needle
Gun => to inject a drug; needle
Smoking gun => heroin and cocaine
Top => gun crack

Fix => to inject a drug
http://www.drugs.indiana.edu/cgi-bin/scripts/engine.pl

I need a fix 'cause I'm goin' down


George Martin had shown John the cover of an American gun magazine which had the caption 'Happiness Is A Warm Gun In Your Hand'. John thought it was an outrageous title. "A warm gun means you've just shot something," John said.
This was Paul McCartney's favorite song on the 'White Album'.
http://www.strawberrywalrus.com/happiness.html


airmailrpl
Brazil
Local time: 19:05
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in PortuguesePortuguese
PRO pts in pair: 1140
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

2 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +4
Some additional comments from those involved and others


Explanation:
PAUL 1968: "The idea of 'Happiness Is A Warm Gun' is from an advert in an American paper. It said, Happiness is a warm gun, and it was 'Get ready for the long hot summer with a rifle,' you know, 'Come and buy them now!' It was an advert in a gun magazine. And it was so sick, you know, the idea of 'Come and buy your killing weapons,' and 'Come and get it.' But it's just such a great line, 'Happiness Is A Warm Gun' that John sort of took that and used that as a chorus. And the rest of the words... I think they're great words, you know. It's a poem. And he finishes off, 'Happiness Is A Warm Gun, yes it is.' It's just good poetry."

JOHN 1972: "They all said it was about drugs, but it was more about rock 'n roll than drugs. It's sort of a history of rock 'n roll... I don't know why people said it was about the needle in heroin. I've only seen somebody do something with a needle once, and I don't like to see it at all."

JOHN 1980: "A gun magazine was sitting around and the cover was the picture of a smoking gun. The title of the article, which I never read, was 'Happiness Is a Warm Gun.' I took it right from there. I took it as the idea of happiness after having shot somebody. Or some animal."



--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2003-06-29 13:09:38 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Title came from a gun ad with added sexual meaning. Phrases added by friends when on an acid trip.

Derek Taylor suggested \"She\'s not a girl who misses much.\"

\"Velvet touch\" was about fellow wearing moleskin gloves for sex.

Lizard on window was from events in LA.

\"Multicolored mirrors\" was from a news story about a Manchester City soccer fan arrested for putting mirrors on his shoes to look up dresses.

\"Lying with his eyes while his hands were working overtime,\" was ostensibly from a shoplifter who had fake arms in his coat.

\"Donating to the National Trust,\" was slang for shitting (donating what you\'d eaten) on National Trust (public park) property.

From: http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Lounge/8450/Beatlesalbu...

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2003-06-29 13:13:53 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

The year was 1968 and John Lennon had recently returned from a retreat to Bangor with the other members The Beatles. This retreat made for the most creative period in the history of The Beatles career, giving George Martin over thirty songs to work with from the two-week trip. Among these songs was \'Happiness is a warm gun\', written in response to the titIe ‘Happiness is a warn arm gun in hand\' from an American gun magazine. Ironically, this song was banned from the airwaves due to the critic’s misinterpretation of the song, thinking it was about \'shooting up heroin\'; instead it was the most thought provoking, philosophically challenging, and politically cutting song written by The Beatles.

The song is broken up into three parts, the first part which is a stream of conscious bit about a \"dirty old man \", according to Lennon\'s notes, who is having an affair, \"lying with his eves while his hands are busy working overtime\". The second part is about a heroin addicted junkie \"I need a fix cause i m going down\", and has personal connotations to Lennon, due to the fact he was addicted to heroin at this time, and that one of his many pseudonyms far Yoko Ono was Mother Superior. The third part is obviously about the killer, or gunman. Altogether Lennon makes the observation about the various degrees of security addiction, and the violent and destructive implications.

First of all, regarding the first section, we have a man who uses his wife as the clean front, \"a soap impression of his wife which he ate and donated to the national trust\". Meaning, his wife is his secure sanctuary and is not a real person but more a statue of prestige. The first lines could be a reference to either the wife or the mistress, and showing the impersonal nature of the relationship, \"she\'s well acquainted with the touch of the velvet hand like a lizard on a windowpane.\"

The drug addict is another example of this. Lennon shows the parallel relation of drug addiction and addictions to violence or prestige by melding the characters into one song.

The third stanza shows the last and most devistating situation. A character that is only happy after he has shot, or killed. Meaning only when the gun is warm is he/she happy. This is a statement about the mentality of those who are drawn to the security and power enveloped in a firearm.

As a complete work of art, \"Happiness\" raises the question of the fundamental motives behind our actions and the cause quences of such addictions.

- Adam Tinnell
(http://mountainresourcecenter.org/tlc/issue3.htm#HAPPINESS)


Nikita Kobrin
Lithuania
Local time: 01:05
Native speaker of: Native in RussianRussian
PRO pts in pair: 35

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Gayle Wallimann
15 mins

agree  Rusinterp: very interesting
4 hrs

agree  RHELLER: http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Palms/ 6797/songs/happinessisawarmgun.html (multi-layered meaning)
16 hrs

agree  Empty Whiskey Glass
2 days8 hrs
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)




Return to KudoZ list


KudoZ™ translation help
The KudoZ network provides a framework for translators and others to assist each other with translations or explanations of terms and short phrases.



See also:



Term search
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search