I Fought the Law – The Crickets Song Meaning

This famous musical composition is more than half a century old. Over the long history of the song, it has been performed by many famous artists performing in different genres from country to punk rock. In the US, The Bobby Fuller Four’s version was the most successful, but you may know the track from The Clash.

Let’s take a look at who wrote I Fought the Law, who played it first, and who made it an international hit.

The history and meaning of the song I Fought the Law – The Crickets

The words and music were composed by Sonny Curtis, who was then a member of The Crickets.

In an interview with Bart Herbison of the Nashville International Songwriters Association, Curtis explained how the song went:

I wrote it one day during a sandstorm while sitting in my living room in West Texas after lunch… It took me about twenty minutes… After reading the text, you will agree that you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to write this. Yes, it took twenty minutes.

In a conversation with a representative of the online edition of Classic Bands, Sonny Curtis also spoke very superficially about the history of the creation of the song:

In fact, I had the idea for I Fought the Law in high school. In those days, I had an amazing imagination. I just did what I dreamed about. I remember one afternoon I sat down and wrote it. She was up in fifteen minutes. Of course, this song is not that difficult. But first I wrote it as a country song, in the vein of Johnny Cash.


The lyrics to I Fought the Law are about a guy who ends up in jail after committing a string of robberies. Many music lovers are sure that the story of the protagonist is taken from real life, but Sonny Curtis debunked this myth.

Explaining what the song I Fought the Law is about, the author tried to recall the sources of inspiration, but it was by no means simple:

I can not. I kind of wrote it in a country style. I would like to think about what I was thinking then – in that case, I would do it again! I usually just wrote songs for fun, not even considering myself a songwriter. By that time, I hadn’t written many songs, and now I can’t even imagine what was on my mind.

Tennessean.com, 2014

Sonny sang the song to his bandmates The Crickets while they were on their way to New York to work on In Style with The Crickets. Colleagues liked the track and immediately recorded it in the studio. The song was included in an album released in 1960. Subsequently, it was published on the back of the single A Sweet Love.

Let’s listen to I Fought the Law by The Crickets.

I Fought the Law – The Bobby Fuller Four

Popular Texan guitarist and singer Bobby Fuller released I Fought The Law in 1964. His version became a hit in the small homeland of the artist. A year later, he recorded the track at his Del-Fi Records studio with the same band of musicians, but since then they have called themselves The Bobby Fuller Four.

Their composition hit the top ten of the American hit parade. I Fought the Law, performed by them, was included in the lists of the five hundred greatest songs of all time according to Rolling Stone and NME. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame named it one of the five hundred tracks that shaped rock and roll. In 2015, she was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

I Fought the Law-The Clash

In 1979, members of the punk band The Clash heard Bobby Fuller’s I Fought The Law on a jukebox. They immediately decided to record it. In July, the track was released on the back of (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais.

Their composition reached the 22nd line of the British chart. In 1988, The Clash released I Fought The Law as a single, which peaked at number 29 on the charts.

You can watch the music video below.

Other cover versions of I Fought the Law

The Royal Lancers recorded I Fought the Law in 1962. Their version was a local hit in Milwaukee.

Two years later, the song was performed by Sammy Masters (Sammy Masters)

In 1972, Roy Orbison recorded I Fought the Law for the Memphis album.

The song was also played by Dead Kennedys, Green Day, Bruce Springsteen and other musicians.

Interesting Facts

  • When The Crickets released I Fought the Law, the song didn’t get airplay at all.
  • Music critics are sure that I Fought the Law would have become an international hit performed by The Crickets if Buddy Holly had not died earlier and could sing it.
  • In December 1989, the US military carried out an operation to overthrow Panamanian military and political leader Manuel Noriega. Surrounding the residence where the general was hiding, they put pressure on him with loud rock music. Among the tracks played was the song I Fought The Law by The Clash.
  • I Fought the Law has featured on the soundtracks of several well-known films, including RoboCop (2014).

I Fought the Law Lyrics

Breakin’ rocks in the hot sun
I fought the law and the law won
I fought the law and the law won
I needed money ’cause I had none
I fought the law and the law won
I fought the law and the law won

I left my baby and it feels so bad
Guess my race is run
She’s the best girl that I ever had
I fought the law and the law won
I fought the law and the

Robbin’ people with a six-gun
I fought the law and the law won
I fought the law and the law won
I lost my girl and I lost my fun
I fought the law and the law won
I fought the law and the law won

I left my baby and it feels so bad
Guess my race is run
She’s the best girl that I ever had
I fought the law and the law won
I fought the law and the

  • Inmates in American prisons often cleared the ground of stones.


Song quote

I hear different artists perform it, and I’m always happy about it.

Sonny Curtis, Tennessean.com

Download song I Fought the Law

On Blimey, readers cannot download the song I Fought the Law for free or for money. You can only listen to the track in versions of different musicians and watch music videos online. Look for sheet music, tabs and backing tracks on specialized websites.

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