Barrel Of A Gun

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Barrel Of A Gun
Song Barrel Of A Gun
By Depeche Mode
Songwriter Martin L. Gore
Produced by Depeche Mode
Tim Simenon
Recorded at Abbey Road
RAK (London)
Larrabee West (Los Angeles)
Length (mm:ss) 5:35 (album version)
5:29 (single version)
4:00 (radio edit)
Tempo 166 BPM
Time signature 4
Key E Major
Programmed by Kerry Hopwood
Engineered by Q
Engineering assistance Paul Hicks
Guy Massey
Lee Fitzgerald
Tom Rixton
Gary Forde
Lee Phillips
Jamie Campbell
Audie Chamberlain
Robbie Kazandjian
Mixed by Tim Simenon
Mastered by Mike Marsh
Keyboards Dave Clayton
Percussion Victor Indrizzo
Vocal coach Evelyn Halus
Art direction Anton Corbijn
Colour prints Brian Dowling
Sleeve design Area
Recorded 1996
Originally released 3 February 1997
Live performances as Depeche Mode 247 times *
Total live performances 247 times *

"Barrel Of A Gun" is a song from the 1997 album Ultra by Depeche Mode. It was released as a lead single on 3 February 1997.


Martin Gore explained the lyrics in the 1997-01-25 issue of NME:

"'Barrel Of A Gun' is about understanding what you're about and realising that you don't necessarily fit into somebody else's scheme of things. You can have slight diversions from your path, but I think there is something that is written for us, that is meant to be. I'm not being totally fatalistic. I think that we do have a say in things, but I don't think that say is very strong."

Dave Gahan told South African magazine Top 40 in 1997:

"'Barrel Of A Gun' for me is more a figurative speaking [song], it's [about] not having much choice to make decisions. I think we are all born with genetic lineage, which means we can stray from it, but we can only stray slightly. There is also your whole social background. We all have certain cages, and that's what the song is about. I didn't have too many choices when I was in the position I was in, so [the song] not particularly about death. The rest of [the songs] are though. [laughs]"

According to Tim Simenon in the 2019-08-01 Depeche Mode special by Classic Pop Magazine, 'Barrel Of A Gun' was written by Martin Gore during the three-month break from mid-May 1996 till mid-August 1996. He also said about the song:

"'Barrel Of A Gun' was little difficult in the timing of the vocals. It's rap inspired, which Depeche hadn't done before, so that was a struggle sometimes, but that made it really interesting."

Martin Gore in the July 1997 issue of Keyboard Magazine:

'Barrel Of A Gun' was one [song of Ultra] that remained very similar to the original demo. All the parts were basically there, so it was just a question of bettering the sounds and making it a bit harder. But that was probably one of the most similar demos to the finished version. I think we originally started off with loops [for the intro], and then tried to recreate them. It's very hard sometimes because a loop has an immediate atmosphere, but you don't always want to use a loop. So in this case it was a matter of recreating it by cutting up various loops to get snares and bass drum sounds.

'Ultra' programmer Dave Clayton in the same magazine issue:

"['Barrel Of A Gun'] started off with a very strong melody, and the lyrics were there. [Martin] had a little loop on the demo, a bass, a pad, and a couple of guitar lines. It was very sparse. Even though we basically started over from scratch, we tried not to lose the essence of the demo. [The drum pattern was] a combination of a cut-up loop, just the top end of it, and single shots of bass drum, snare, and so forth. It's not a loop, per se. It's a pattern, but I think it has a feel of a loop. [The sequencing was done on] an old Atari with Notator. I've tried everything else, but the ST seems to have the best feel. [The sounds in the intro] came from a combination patch made on a Waldorf Wave, and a Korg Trinity Plus and M1R. A lot of people thinks [the M1R] just a preset synth but once you get into it, there's a lot to be had. [The bass line was recorded on a PPG Wave 2.3 which crashed prior to printing it to tape but] fortunately, I got it back, but it gave me quite a scare."

Martin Gore in Bong issue no. 37, 1998:

"I think that after Alan left the band, and after an absence of four years, we all individually came to the conclusion that it would be a good idea to release something that was a bit more of a challenge, something that wasn’t necessarily so Depeche Mode-like. We felt that “Barrel Of A Gun” was probably about the furthest from what we’ve done in the past. I think it was me who first tentatively suggested that maybe 'Barrel Of A Gun' should be released as a single. I expected a lot of resistance and expected all the others to be arguing for days, saying ‘you must be mad’, but immediately they said ‘we’ve actually been thinking the same’ – so it was such an easy decision to make. I think we’re all really pleased we took that route, and didn’t release “It’s No Good” as the first single."

Dave Gahan told Entertainment Weekly in 2017:

[Ultra] is one of my favourites, 'Barrel of a Gun' in particular, because I think Martin was also playing with this imagery as well, sort of pointing the finger at me. When I perform that song now, it really describes the way I felt at that time: This creature that was barely existing, but somehow still thought he had it going on [laughs]. Martin was spot-on with his lyrics. I mean, I don’t even know if the song was written about me, or for me, or poking at me to say "For f–k’s sake, get your s–t together!" But it worked. I liked it."

Rough Mix

This version of Barrel Of A Gun is strikingly similar to the final album version, but has Martin singing lead vocals. This version was probably created as a vocal guide. There is also an instrumental break in the middle of the song not found in the album version. Martin sings "everything I've done" instead of "when everything that I've done" as on the album version.[1]


Barrel Of A Gun

Do you mean this horny creep

Set upon weary feet

Who looks in need of sleep

That doesn't come

This twisted, tortured mess

This bed of sinfulness

Who's longing for some rest

And feeling numb

What do you expect of me

What is it you want

Whatever you've planned for me

I'm not the one

A vicious appetite

Visits me each night

And won't be satisfied

Won't be denied

An unbearable pain

A beating in my brain

That leaves the mark of Cain

Right here inside

What am I supposed to do

When everything that I've done

Is leading me to conclude

I'm not the one

Whatever I've done

I've been staring down the barrel of a gun

Is there something you need from me

Are you having your fun

I never agreed to be

Your holy one

Whatever I've done

I've been staring down the barrel of a gun

Songwriter: Martin L. Gore
Publishing Information: ©1997 Grabbing Hands Music Ltd/EMI Music Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.

Music video

Live performances

Main article: Available recordings of "Barrel Of A Gun"
Main article: List of dates where "Barrel Of A Gun" was played

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1986-1989: StrippedBut Not TonightA Question Of LustA Question Of TimeStrangeloveNever Let Me Down AgainBehind The WheelLittle 15Route 66Personal Jesus
1990-1999: Enjoy The SilencePolicy of TruthWorld In My EyesI Feel YouWalking In My ShoesCondemnationIn Your RoomBarrel Of A GunIt's No GoodHomeUselessOnly When I Lose Myself
2000-2009: Dream OnI Feel LovedFreeloveGoodnight LoversPreciousA Pain That I'm Used ToSuffer WellJohn the RevelatorLilianMartyrWrongPeaceFragile TensionHole To Feed
2010-2017: HeavenSoothe My SoulShould Be HigherWhere's The RevolutionGoing BackwardsCover Me
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