"The Long Arm Of The Law" is a song from Warren Zevon's 1989 album, Transverse City.

About the SongEdit

The song is about a criminal, a common subject for Zevon, desperately trying to get away from law enforcement. The only real crime the song describes is doing unspecified deals on both sides of the border after a fictional 1999 war in Paraguay. The criminal's back story is however elaborated as one of a child that lived rough, with the first words he ever heard being those of an armed hold up. The song notes that his life has only ever gotten worse. The song compounds and repeats the principle of the law's extreme power and the helplessness of those who it turns against. The use of digital recording and multi track audio allowed Zevon to perform as his own back singer with a sustained chorus of "its the long arm, its the strong arm, its the long arm of the law." The hounding theme of this song is notably similar to the song "Wanted Dead or Alive" from Zevon's first ever album twenty years earlier.


Note: the text of this song's lyrics is not under the same copyright license as the wiki's encyclopedic text, it is used under fair use/dealing.

When I was young, times were hard

When I got older it was worse

First words I ever heard:

"Nobody move, nobody get hurt"

It's the long arm, it's the strong arm

It's the long arm of the law

It's the long arm, it's the strong arm

It's the long arm of the law

After the war in Paraguay

Back in 1999

I was laying low in Lima

Working both sides of the borderline

It's the long arm, it's the strong arm

It's the long arm of the law

You can run, but you can't hide...

Well, I have to live like a fugitive

Oh yeah, oh yeah

Someone's coming after me

And I'm running, running, yeah

Now, don't protest your innocence

Only the dead get off scot free

And when the judge says, "Whodunit?"

You'll be crying, "Not me! Not me!"

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