What I’m Listening To: Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner

M1 Thompson Submachinegun Caliber .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol)


The late, great Warren Zevon is an artist who I’ll listen to now and then. His excellent ballad of a soldier of fortune: “Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner” is a Le Chanson de Roland of a different sort. This is a tale of a soldier of fortune getting revenge although he is an undead soldier, being headless while seeking this revenge. Headless as the horseman of sleepy hollow.


The song is set amongst the backdrop of the Biafran War in Africa. Roland is depicted as a Norwegian mercenary who is participating in the fight to assist the Congolese. In actuality, it is more likely the Nigerians as the song alludes to CIA sponsorship of Roland. Read more about the Nigerian Civil War (Biafran War) here.


This song is always one that despite it’s morbidity it remains sentimental. One of my best friends and I used to belt this song out. I’d do my best at vocals This is always a song I’ll sing along to when no one is around. Thanks, Warren Zevon for helping me make memories.

“Talkin About The Man.”

Warren Zevon

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