A Complete and Carnage Filled Collection of Badass / Bad Men Songs

Whether it’s about how badass they are individually; (e.g. Thorgood and The Destroyers Bad To the Bone), as a group (Ballad Of The Green Berets) bad acts they’ve done (Marty Robins’ El Paso) or their lifestyles (Geto Boys’ Mind Playing Tricks On Me) – list 'em here.

Regular ol’ bravado or machismo isn’t enough. Violence and fighting have to be expressed in the lyrics. As much as like the whoopin’ and hollerin’ in Muddy Waters’ I’m A Man, it’s clear by the lyrics he’s a lover, not a fighter.

All music genres welcome!

Uh… included appropriate badass/ bad women, too. I don’t wanna get hoomiliated by some woman poster on a Dixie Chicks kick.

First song that came to mind when I read the OP was Nick Cave’s “O’Malley’s Bar,” from Murder Ballads. Cool cool cool and sick sick sick!

You can’t talk about the bad man without mentioning Stagger Lee!

The old Irish folk standard, Whiskey in the Jar . Armed robbery, murder, jail breaking…

vunderbob & Enginerd – (I can’t decide who’s name is more creative, btw) – can you post who your songs are sung by, please?

Bad, Bad Leroy Brown (badder than King Kong…that’s pretty bad)

Big Bad John (tough and heroic)

Amos Moses (one cajun you don’t want to mess with)

Don’t Mess Around with Jim (is that the name of that song?)

Johnny Cash: A Boy Named Sue (hey, violence and comedy in the same song! My name is Sue! How do you do? Now you gonna die!!)

R. Dean Taylor: Indiana Wants Me

The Bobby Fuller Four: I Fought The Law

Wanted Man by Bob Dylan
“Went to sleep in Shreveport, woke up in Abilene…
wonderin’ why the hell I’m wanted at some town halfway between.”
Cocaine Blues by Johnny Cash (anyone know who did the original?)
“Early one morning while making the rounds,
I took a shot of cocaine and I shot my woman down.”

and the immortal
“I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.” (and if you don’t know that song then there are some serious gaps in your musical education!)

Hoyt Axton’s Jealous Man:

“You got the knife, I got the gun,
Come along boy, let’s have a little fun…”

Jesse James was a lad that killed many a man . . .”

Jack Straw from Wichita cut his buddy down
And dug for him a shallow grave
And laid his body down.

Whiskey in the Jar is covered by many. I have versions in my collection by The Grateful Dead and The Irish Rovers. There was also a grunge band who did a version, but I forgot which one.

Tennessee Ernie Ford - 16 Tons
“If you see me coming better step aside. A lot of men didn’t. A lot of men died.”

Slick Rick - Bedtime Story
"Grabbed a pregnant lady and pulled out the automatic. pointed at her head and said the gun was pull of lead and told the cops, “Back off or honey here is dead.”

Battle Hymn of The Republic
“He hath loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword…”

A couple more by artists already mentioned…

Big Iron by Marty Robbins (Mike Ness of Social Distortion does a pretty cool version of this song on his “Under the Influence” album)

Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Max beat me to the Leroy Brown reference. But he left out the lyrics!

Leroy was a tough guy:
He got a 32 gun in his pocket for fun
He got a razor in his shoe

But he met his match:
when they pulled them off the floor
Leroy looked like a jigsaw puzzle
With a couple of pieces gone

He learned his lesson by a’ messin with the wife of a jealous man!

(a’ messin - great verb :cool: )

Delia’s Gone - Johnny Cash.

“First time I shot her, shot her in the side
Hard to watch her suffer, but with the second shot, she died”
Just about any NWA song as well.

Songs where the other guy is the bad one:

Gimme Three Steps - Lynard Skynard
Come a Little Bit Closer - Jay & the Americans

Frankie and Johnny - Johnny Cash (and others): Frankie catches Johnny messing around with Nellie Bly and shoots him with her daddy’s .44.

Pistol Pakin’ Mama - Bing Crosby

For Bad Men: The nameless narrator of On the Shores of the Ohio (I have no idea who originally wrote it - everwhere I’ve looked says it’s “traditional”):

The song’s been covered by damn-near everybody, it seems.

Bo Diddly’s Who Do You Love (as well as George ThoroughlyGood’s cover thereof) springs to mind…

with lines like:


dude GOT ta be BAD!

A little short on the violence and fighting, but still bears mentioning:
“Mr. Bad Example” by Warren Zevon