My Race is Run

Sonny Curtis never spent any time “breaking rocks in the hot sun” when he was inspired to write the rock and roll classic ‘l Fought the Law’.  He was daydreaming one afternoon in Texas and he cooked up the tune in less than half an hour.  The song was first cut in 1960 by his band, The Crickets on the first album that they released after the death of their frontman, Buddy Holly.  Sonny Curtis joined the Crickets, taking the place of the late Buddy Holly on guitar.  It became a hit for the Bobby Fuller Four several years later, and then an anthem for countless rock rebels, from The Clash to Hank Williams Jr. to Green Day.

The Bobby Fuller Four version of this song was ranked No. 175 on the Rolling Stone list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004, and the same year was named one of the 500 “Songs that Shaped Rock” by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Fuller was a popular singer/guitarist from El Paso, Texas and he was found dead in the front seat of his mother’s car shortly after ‘I Fought The Law’ became a national hit.  4 years after Bobby died, Janis Joplin purchased some bad heroin on the street corner of that same vacant lot and then overdosed not more than 250 feet away from where Bobby was found dead.  His body was discovered in a park across from the hotel where Janis Joplin died in room 105 of what was then the Landmark Hotel on Franklin in Hollywood.

The song is about a guy who goes to jail after a robbery spree.  The original lyric was “Robbin’ people with a six gun,” but Bobby Fuller would sing it as “Zip Gun”, “Shotgun” or “Six Gun”, and he joked about other guns when he sang it live.  The Clash recorded this in 1979 after they heard Fuller’s version on a jukebox.  They made this song bleaker, by changing the line, “I left my baby” to “I killed my baby” and their version got them noticed in America.

Breakin’ rocks in the hot sun
I fought the law and the law won
I fought the law and the law won
I needed the money ’cause I had none
I fought the law and the law won
I fought the law and the law won
I miss my baby and I feel so bad
I guess my race is run
She’s the best girl I’ve ever had
I fought the law and the law won
I fought the law and the law won
Robbin’ people with a six gun
I fought the law and the law won
I fought the law and the law won
I miss my baby and I feel so bad
I guess my race is run
She’s the best girl I’ve ever had
I fought the law and the law won
I fought the law and the law won

Written for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie MM Music challenge The Race Is On.

18 thoughts on “My Race is Run

      1. It sounds like The Dead did a lot of cover versions. Being the Deadhead you are, do you know the ratio of originals to covers for them? Sorry if I asked you this before, seems like I did, but I forgot the answer if I did.

        Liked by 1 person

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