Wanted Dead Or Alive
Mighty Sparrow Lyrics


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The rule of the tyrants decline
The year, 1979
From Uganda to Nicaragua
It's bombs and bullets all the time

So they corrupt, so they vile
So it's coup after coup all the while
Human rights they violate
They thought they were so great
So in disgrace now they live in exile

Gairy is a wanted man
Idi Amin is a wanted man
Shah of Iran tried so hard to survive
He, too, is wanted dead or alive

Strikes, demonstrations & wars
Injustice is always the cause
Politicians turn too soon from
Poor people into tycoons
Corruption must bring harass

South African Vorster resign in disgrace
Muzurewa take away Ian Smith place
The Uganda devil was easily cat straddled
Beaten up and chased - what a waste.

Gairy is a wanted man
Patrick John is a wanted man
The Shah of Iran try so hard to survive
He too was wanted dead or alive.

The shah had a short time to live
Because the Ayatollah don't forgive
When you see church ruling state
With pure vengeance and hate
Situation must be explosive

General Somoza from Nicaragua
Thought it was easy with the Sandinistas
With the help of Venezuela, Panama and Cuba
They kick him straight to America.

Gairy is a wanted man
Bokassa is a wanted man
Ali Bhutto try so hard to survive
He too was wanted dead or alive.

Grenada mongoose was bad and so brave
They send the old bishop straight to the grave
After that well Gairy skip town
With the diary of the Obeah gong
No more people to enslave

Trinidad neighbors expected more mayhem
Anytime anything can happen to them

Eric Williams taking a backseat to avoid
Bacchanal
But everybody know he a fraidy cat

Gairy is a wanted mam
Park Chung Hee was a wanted man




Acheam Pong fight so hard to survive
He too was wanted dead or alive

Overall Meaning

The lyrics of Mighty Sparrow's song Wanted Dead Or Alive depict the state of turmoil and political unrest that prevailed in several countries during the year 1979. The song highlights the rule of tyrants and their eventual fall from power. The opening lines of the song emphasize that the era of tyrants is coming to an end, with the decline of their power. The song goes on to list the many countries where bombs and bullets are being used as means of achieving political objectives. The depiction of the brutality of these regimes is stark - they are corrupt, they violate human rights and they thought they were great. However, they are now living in exile, shamed and disgraced.


The song further lists the names of several tyrants who were infamous at that time - Gairy, Idi Amin, and Shah of Iran. Each of them is a "wanted man," either dead or alive. Strikes, demonstrations, and wars are a constant feature in these countries where the rule of law has broken down, and the politicians have become tycoons, thriving on corruption. The song suggests that the political situation will become volatile when the church starts to rule the state with pure vengeance and hate. The song concludes by listing more names of tyrants, and the fact that some of them fall from power while some continue to fight desperately to remain in power.


Line by Line Meaning

The rule of the tyrants decline
The tyrants are on the decline


The year, 1979
This is happening in the year 1979


From Uganda to Nicaragua
This is happening in Uganda and Nicaragua


It's bombs and bullets all the time
There is constant violence with bombs and bullets


So they corrupt, so they vile
The tyrants are corrupt and vile


So it's coup after coup all the while
There are constant coups taking place


Human rights they violate
The tyrants violate human rights


They thought they were so great
They believed they were great


So in disgrace now they live in exile
Now they live in exile, in disgrace


Gairy is a wanted man
Gairy is wanted


Idi Amin is a wanted man
Idi Amin is wanted


Shah of Iran tried so hard to survive
The Shah of Iran is trying hard to survive


He, too, is wanted dead or alive
He is wanted, dead or alive


Strikes, demonstrations & wars
There are strikes, demonstrations, and wars


Injustice is always the cause
Injustice is the cause of these events


Politicians turn too soon from Poor people into tycoons
Politicians become tycoons too quickly, leaving poor people behind


Corruption must bring harass
Corruption brings harassment


South African Vorster resign in disgrace
Vorster of South Africa resigns in disgrace


Muzurewa take away Ian Smith place
Muzurewa takes Ian Smith's place


The Uganda devil was easily cat straddled
The tyrant of Uganda was easily defeated


Beaten up and chased - what a waste.
The tyrant was beaten up and chased away


Patrick John is a wanted man
Patrick John is wanted


The shah had a short time to live
The Shah of Iran had a short time to live


Because the Ayatollah don't forgive
The Ayatollah does not forgive


When you see church ruling state
When the church rules the state


With pure vengeance and hate
With pure vengeance and hate


Situation must be explosive
The situation must be explosive


General Somoza from Nicaragua
General Somoza from Nicaragua


Thought it was easy with the Sandinistas
Thought it was easy with the Sandinistas


With the help of Venezuela, Panama, and Cuba
With the help of Venezuela, Panama, and Cuba


They kick him straight to America.
They kick him straight to America


Bokassa is a wanted man
Bokassa is wanted


Ali Bhutto try so hard to survive
Ali Bhutto is trying hard to survive


He too was wanted dead or alive.
He is wanted, dead or alive


Grenada mongoose was bad and so brave
The Grenada mongoose is bad and brave


They send the old bishop straight to the grave
They killed the old bishop


After that well Gairy skip town
After that, Gairy left town


With the diary of the Obeah gong
With the diary of the Obeah gong


No more people to enslave
There are no more people to enslave


Trinidad neighbors expected more mayhem
Trinidad's neighbors expected more trouble


Anytime anything can happen to them
Anything can happen to them at any time


Eric Williams taking a backseat to avoid Bacchanal
Eric Williams is trying to avoid trouble


But everybody know he a fraidy cat
Everyone knows he is a coward


Park Chung Hee was a wanted man
Park Chung Hee was wanted


Acheam Pong fight so hard to survive
Acheam Pong is fighting hard to survive


He too was wanted dead or alive
He is wanted, dead or alive




Contributed by Stella R. Suggest a correction in the comments below.
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Comments from YouTube:

@mrmjb1960

Love this! This used to play on New York's FM Stations all the time!

@DIAMONDGIRL57

Yup!!! 👌🏽👌🏽👌🏽

@seanhoward1534

I haven't heard this song in over 40 years
Thank you.
Thank you you tube.

@laawaer7265

I clearly remember this song playing over the airwaves after the Grenada revolution,which took place on the March 13th ,1979.This is one song that I'll never forget.Hearing it still reminds me of the time period growing up in Grenada. I was 7 when the revolution happened and 12 by the time the Americans invaded on October 23,1983.Both events scared the life out of me!

@Trinavara

This song was also a big part of my childhood, basically teached me current affairs , especially what was going on in Grenada so close .

@ignaciopullum9891

Central America and the Caribbean was on fire during the time

@Jazzhog

Sparrow tells the story in epic form ! One of the greatest songs ever...

@ajstlucie6423

Timeless music will fit any age.
Hail Hail Sparrow!

@DJJAZZYREAVES

I REMEMBER HEARIN THIS ON WBLS BACK IN THE DAY!!!!!

@deniseandread

It's was on 1980

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