Elton John

I Feel Like a Bullet (In the Gun of Robert Ford)

Song Review by

Rock of the Westies devoted most of its time to pulse-pounding rock fare like "Grow Some Funk of Your Own," but it also had one classic Elton John ballad up its sleeve in the form of "I Feel Like a Bullet (In the Gun of Robert Ford)." Although not as big a chart success as prior ballad hits like "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," this song remains a strong example of John's skill at the art of the ballad. Bernie Taupin's lyrics draw their inspiration from the Old West as the use the metaphor of the title (Robert Ford is the man who shot Jesse James) to convey the guilt of someone who knows they ended a love affair before it had a chance to start. It's a fairly obtuse choice of metaphor, but the song paints the narrator's regret in an arrestingly honest and heartfelt fashion elsewhere in lines like "I burst the bubble that both of us lived in/And I'll be damned if I can get rid of the guilt I feel." John's melody captures the poignant mood of the song with verses whose gentle ebb and flow mirrors the song's free-flowing emotions and a soaring chorus that gives the guilt-tinged lyrics a cathartic punch. John's recording of "I Feel Like a Bullet (In the Gun of Robert Ford)" is jazzy and elegant, building itself on a moody combination of piano and vibraphone that provides a lush but understated backdrop for John's stirring, heartfelt lead vocal and gradually working in guitar and synth textures and the song's emotion builds. The song failed to become a notable hit, probably due to its rather obscure lyrics, but has become a cult favorite with fans thanks to its melancholy yet lovely sound.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Rock of the Westies 1975 Island / Mercury / Polydor 0:00
Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 1986 Rocket Group Pty LTD / Polydor 5:28
To Be Continued... 1990 MCA 0:00
No Image Rock