Sniper Lyrics - Harry Chapin

Review The Song (4)

It is an early Monday morning.
The sun is becoming bright on the land.
No one is watching as he comes a-walking.
Two bulky suitcases hang from his hands.

He heads towards the tower that stands in the campus.
He goes through the door, he starts up the stairs.
The sound of his footsteps, the sound of his breathing,
The sound of the silence when no one was there.

I didn't really know him.
He was kind of strange.
Always sort of sat there.
He never seemed to change.

He reached the catwalk. He put down his burden.
The four sided clock began to chime.
Seven AM, the day is beginning.
So much to do and so little time.

He looks at the city where no one had known him.
He looks at the sky where no one looks down.
He looks at his life and what it has shown him.
He looks for his shadow it cannot be found.

He was such a moody child, very hard to touch.
Even as a baby he never smiled too much. No, no. No, no.

You bug me, she said.
You're ugly, she said.
Please hug me, I said.
But she just sat there
With the same flat stare
That she saves for me alone
When I'm home.
When I'm home.
Take me home.

He laid out the rifles, he loaded the shotgun,
He stacked up the cartridges along the wall.
He knew he would need them for his conversation.
If it went as he planned, then he might use them all.

He said Listen you people I've got a question
You won't pay attention but I'll ask anyhow.
I found a way that will get me an answer.
Been waiting to ask you 'til now.
Right now!

Am I?
I am a lover who's never been kissed.
Am I?
I am a fighter who's not made a fist.
Am I?
If I'm alive then there's so much I've missed.
How do I know I exist?
Are you listening to me?
Are you listening to me?
Am I?

The first words he spoke took the town by surprise.
One got Mrs. Gibbons above her right eye.
It blew her through the window wedged her against the door.
Reality poured from her face, staining the floor.

He was kind of creepy,
Sort of a dunce.
I met him at the corner bar.
I only dated the poor boy once,
That's all. Just once, that was all.

Bill Whedon was questioned as he stepped from his car.
Tom Scott ran across the street but he never got that far.
The police were there in minutes, they set up barricades.
He spoke right on over them in a half-mile circle.
In a dumb struck city his pointed questions were sprayed.

He knocked over Danny Tyson as he ran towards the noise.
Just about then the answers started coming. Sweet, sweet joy.
Thudding in the clock face, whining off the walls,
Reaching up to where he sat, their answering calls.

Thirty-seven people got his message so far.
Yes, he was reaching them right were they are.

They set up an assault team. They asked for volunteers.
They had to go and get him, that much was clear.
And the word spread about him on the radios and TV's.
In appropriately sober tone they asked "Who can it be?"

He was a very dull boy, very taciturn.
Not much of a joiner, he did not want to learn.
No, no. No, no.

They're coming to get me, they don't want to let me
Stay in the bright light too long.
It's getting on noon now, it's going to be soon now.
But oh, what a wonderful sound!

Mama, won't you nurse me?
Rain me down the sweet milk of your kindness.
Mama, it's getting worse for me.
Won't you please make me warm and mindless?

Mama, yes you have cursed me.
I never will forgive you for your blindness.
I hate you!

The wires are all humming for me.
And I can hear them coming for me.
Soon they'll be here, but there's nothing to fear.
Not any more though they've blasted the door.

As the copter dropped the gas he shouted "Who cares?".
They could hear him laughing as they started up the stairs.
As they stormed out on the catwalk, blinking at the sun,
With their final fusillade his answer had come.

Am I?
There is no way that you can hide me.
Am I?
Though you have put your fire inside me.
Am I?
You've given me my answer can't you see?
I was!
I am!
and now I will be,
I will be,
I will be,
I will be,
I will be,

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Powerful. | Reviewer: Anonymous | 12/15/12

I imagine this song speaks to the woinding and isolation that many mass killers have felt

I wrote a college paper on this | Reviewer: Rick | 11/6/07

In 1975 I took a course on Poetry to lighten my load. We could analyze the poetic devices found in anything each liked. It's amazing how many formal techniques are in this song, and how the changing melodies and cadences support it.

I told him about the paper after a concert he gave in Morristown, NJ. My mother still remembers his kiss.

Finally, Daniel was right in comparing this song to "A Better Place To Be." They are the 2 most serious songs. Even after 30 years, the lyrics to "A Better Place To Be" stick with me.

chilling | Reviewer: Liz | 9/2/07

This is indeed Harry Chapin's most emotionally involved song, and expresses the pain, fear, anger, and confusion that Charles Whitman felt back in 1966.

Inspiration for the song " Sniper ". | Reviewer: Daniel | 6/8/07

This was inspired by the story of Charles Whitman,
A Vietnam veteran suffering from pressure on the area ( s ) of his brain controlling aggression caused by a tumour. He went up in the afore - mentioned clock - tower of the University of Texas, Austin, & targeted 37 people on the campus before being taken out by policemen.
I believe this was in 1963 or maybe it was '66, please feel free to correct me.
It is perhaps the most emotionally intense song that I have heard him perform, ( I had an old VHS tape of him doing it live. ) & he brings an appropriate air of panic, pathos & conflict, in sharp contrast to most of his other songs. Listening to it, then listening to " A Better Place To Be " is rather like driving a motor - cycle full - tilt down a stretch of highway, then getting on to an old - fashioned carriage.

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------ Performed by Harry Chapin

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------ 11/22/2014

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