Ian Hunter – Once Bitten, Twice Shy

Ian Hunter – Once Bitten, Twice Shy

‘Once Bitten, Twice Shy’ is a 1975 song written and recorded by Ian Hunter, from his debut solo album Ian Hunter, which reached No. 14 in the UK Singles Chart. The song was included in the 2017 feature-length biographical documentary, and compilation soundtrack, entitled Beside Bowie: the Mick Ronson Story.

The song was covered in 1989 by American rock band Great White on their fourth album, ...Twice Shy. This version was also released as a single, which charted at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, at No. 6 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and again in the UK. This version's video was placed on New York Times list of the 15 Essential Hair-Metal Videos.

‘Once Bitten Twice Shy’ is an expression meaning that if you've been hurt, you are less likely to put yourself in that position again. In this song, Ian Hunter sings to a girl who seems to take up with lots of musicians. He knows from past experience, that he can't count on her. There's an interesting dynamic in this song, with the girl starting out as a typical groupie, but becoming something more when Hunter takes a shine to her. He first encounters her in the tour bus with the drummer. Before much action can take place between them, he claims her (benefits of being a lead singer, maybe) and takes her in. She soon learns that rock and roll is a hard life with lots of travel and heaters on the bus that don't always work. But as she gets the hang of it, she starts messing around with other guys, much to Hunter's dismay.

This was Hunter's first single after leaving Mott the Hoople in 1974. That group is best known for ‘All The Young Dudes,’ written and produced by David Bowie, who championed the group. Hunter's solo career got off to a good start. He toured both the US and UK in 1975, and ‘Once Bitten Twice Shy’ rose to #14 in the UK. He wasn't able to follow it up with another hit, and although his sales numbers faltered, he retained fervent fanbase and counted many fellow musicians as supporters; Mick Jones of The Clash and guitarist Mick Ronson were among his collaborators.

Labels – Columbia Records, Sony Music Entertainment
Songwriter – Ian Hunter
Producers – Ian Hunter, Mick Ronson


[Verse 1]
Well the times gettin' hard for you little girl
I'm a hummin' and a strummin' all over God's world
You don't remember when you got your last meal
And you forgot just how a woman feels
You didn't know what Rock 'n' Roll was
Until you met a drummer on a Greyhound bus
I got there in the nick of time
Before he got his hands across your state line
[Verse 2]
Well in the middle of the night on the open road
And the heater don't work and it's oh-so cold
You're gettin' tired, you're lookin' kinda beat
The music of the street, drive you off your feet
You didn't know how rock 'n' roll looked
Until you caught your sister with a guy from the group
Half-way home in the parking lot
By the look in her eyes she was givin' what she got
Once bitten twice shy, babe
Once bitten twice shy, babe
Once bitten twice shy, babe
[Verse 3]
Woman you're a mess gonna die in your sleep
All the blood on my hand and my Les Paul heat
I can't leave you home 'cos you're runnin' around
My best friend told me you're the best trick in town
You didn't know that Rock 'n' Roll burned
So you bought a candle and you loved and you learned
You got the rhythm, you got the speed
Mamma's little baby likes it short and sweet
Once bitten twice shy, babe
Once bitten twice shy, babe
Once bitten twice shy, babe
[Verse 4]
I didn't know ya got a Rock 'n' Roll record
Until I saw your picture on another guy's jacket
You told me I was the only one
And look at you now, well it's dark as it's dumb
Once bitten twice shy, babe
Once bitten twice shy, babe
Once bitten twice shy, babe
Once bitten twice shy
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