we were flying along, And hit something in the air..
July 16, 2017 1:58 PM   Subscribe

In 1971,, the Texas based hard rock band Bloodrock released the song "D.O.A." a tune about a plane crash and it's aftermath, described by one critic as "the most gruesome song to ever hit the Top 40. You be the judge.
posted by jonmc (64 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I had forgotten this song. Grim.

To me, though, it feels of a piece with the endless conflict in Vietnam and the threat of mutually assured destruction. It slotted right into the zeitgeist.
posted by sjswitzer at 2:09 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]

This song sounds like something Swan would produce in The Phantom of the Paradise.
posted by Catblack at 2:15 PM on July 16 [9 favorites]

"the most gruesome song"? Gee, am I the only one to remember Timothy, written by Rupert Holmes and sung by the Buoys in 1970? (It's a catchy little ditty about three trapped miners; only two come out alive. There's implications of cannibalism about miner #3....)
posted by easily confused at 2:18 PM on July 16 [9 favorites]

yes, but did Timothy make the top 40?
posted by jonmc at 2:19 PM on July 16

According to Wikipedia, "Timothy" made it up to #17 while "D.O.A." only peaked at #36. But the Bloodrock album did better than anything The Buoys ever did.

That organ intro is such a cliche now, but I don't know if it was yet in 1970. Still, I needed a musical chaser after that, so "Crawling From The Wreckage" by Dave Edmunds from a few years later.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:31 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]

My old Library Director claims he was the studio/touring/backstage drummer for this band. I lean towards believing him as who would base their fantasy life on this?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:35 PM on July 16 [12 favorites]

Dude, I actually like the song, but it is gory as fuck, especially for 1970.
posted by jonmc at 2:36 PM on July 16

yes, but did Timothy make the top 40?

Yes. I had recalled that it was a bigger hit in Canada than the USA. I didn't know it was written by 'The Pina Colada Song' composer.
posted by ovvl at 2:39 PM on July 16

timothy made it to #17

jimmy cross' i want my baby back made #92 and is more gruesome

nervous norvus' transfusion was a bigger hit than either at #13

and robocop, that's some solid drumming there
posted by pyramid termite at 2:40 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]

jimmy cross' i want my baby back made #92 and is more gruesome

Ehh, not as graphic and played strictly for laughs.
posted by jonmc at 2:41 PM on July 16

and i guess we have to have a link to bloodrock's melvin laid an egg

they were weird - and pretty heavy, too
posted by pyramid termite at 2:45 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]

Video is NSFW needs a content warning. It depicts actual aircraft and auto crashes, a naked woman and what appears to be the victim of a collision.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 2:45 PM on July 16 [7 favorites]

Hit something in the air?

Amazing that this 8 and a half minute song was ever a hit. Brown acid for sure.
posted by msalt at 2:46 PM on July 16

"Melvin Laid an Egg" is good and crunchy, them lyrics though:
"I just wanna go home
And have myself an ice cream cone
Be all by my, by
If you're gonna make my bed I'll lie

Dreaming of the roads we should have took
Melvin laid an egg, come and look

He's in a sideshow
Making lots of dough
What can be said for Melvin and his egg?"
I think I'd rather listen to "Mississippi Queen" a few more times.
posted by msalt at 2:51 PM on July 16

yes, but did Timothy make the top 40?

Run, Joey Run did. And Sylvia's Mother isn't as grotesque, but still manages to get you in the feels.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:55 PM on July 16

Of course the quintessential car crash song is "Leader of the Pack" in 1964 and its parody "Leader of the Laundromat" (whose lead singer I personally FPP'd recently).

And don't forget 1973's "Radar Love" by Golden Earring.

Now, plane crash songs are harder to find...
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:05 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]

Now, plane crash songs are harder to find...

'From the Air' by Laurie Anderson was not on Top 40, but it did get some College Radio airplay.
posted by ovvl at 3:19 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]

I didn't know it was a Texas band that made this (how the internet has changed things). I remember lots of tut-tutting about the song at the time.
posted by Bee'sWing at 3:24 PM on July 16

"American Pie" is about a plane crash. But Eddie Cochran recorded "Three Stars" which is about the same incident, but came out 12 years earlier. Eddie died the year after the song came out, in a car accident on the way to the airport.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:28 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]

Oh man! I was in 8th grade in Texas at the time and everyone was so into this song, as you might imagine only 13 year olds could be. I vaguely remember a pre-goth classmate talking our very conservative English teacher into letting us listen to it in class, to analyze the lyrics or something. And yes, there was a lot of tut-tutting about the song. I never knew it was a Texas band either, as a matter of fact I always thought it was Black Sabbath - probably because my pre-goth classmate wore a Black Sabbath t-shirt.
posted by maggiemaggie at 3:30 PM on July 16 [8 favorites]

Don't forget how John Denver, whose first fame came from the song "Leaving on a Jet Plane" died in a plane crash 30 years later. And even 'Sweet Baby' James Taylor had a lyric in "Fire and Rain" about "flying machines in pieces on the ground".

But for "grim songs about death", you can't beat 1973's "Seasons in the Sun" from a Rod McKuen translation of a Jacques Brel song about a dying man's messages to his loved ones. One of the biggest selling singles of all time. We were all clinically depressed from '70-'73...
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:32 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]

John Leyton's wonderfully melodramatic death disc Johnny Remember Me topped the UK charts for five weeks in 1961, but did nothing in the US. There's a good FT piece on it here.
posted by Paul Slade at 3:34 PM on July 16

>Of course the quintessential car crash song is...

I've always felt this title belonged to Transfusion by Nervous Norvus.
posted by Catblack at 4:44 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]

Another 70s right-in-the-feels hit song about death: Shannon

And for when you just know... The Meat Purveyors' Car Crash
posted by pernoctalian at 4:57 PM on July 16

And don't forget 1973's "Radar Love" by Golden Earring .

Is "Radar Love" about a car crash?
posted by layceepee at 4:59 PM on July 16

For more plane crashes, see also The Who's Glow Girl.

For motorcycles, Meatloaf's Bat Out of Hell.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:59 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]

How has no one mentioned People Who Died?
posted by msalt at 5:05 PM on July 16 [7 favorites]

Of course the quintessential car crash song is "Leader of the Pack"

I'm going with "Dead Man's Curve"
posted by thelonius at 5:37 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]

Not exactly a car crash song, but a car death song, and come on, it's the Ramones: 7-11. Bop she-wop she-wop she-wop!
posted by languagehat at 5:40 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]

Is "Radar Love" about a car crash?

No more speed, I'm almost there
Gotta keep cool now, gotta take care
Last car to pass, here I go
And the line of cars drove down real slow
And the radio played that forgotten song
Brenda Lee's comin' on strong
And the newsman sang his same song
Oh one more radar lover gone

Then there's the song that you could say was about a "horse crash", Michael Martin Murphy's 1975 hit Wildfire...

Oh, they say she died one winter
When there came a killing frost
And the pony she named Wildfire
Busted down his stall
In a blizzard she was lost
She ran calling Wildfire

Geez, the early 70s were grim.
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:42 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]

A friend played this song at a slumber party when I was about eleven. I had nightmares about it for years after that. But never heard it again, and for a while thought I'd just dreamed the whole thing. It's that creepy.
posted by OolooKitty at 5:44 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]

No Last Kiss?
posted by Tiny Bungalow at 5:56 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]

I often reference this song when talking about the bleakness of the early 70s.
Between this, Last House on the Left, Joe, and ZPG its no wonder that by 75 everyone was like "fuck it. Let's drink and drug and screw as much as we can"
posted by Senor Cardgage at 6:06 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]

Maybe not so gruesome, but few songs are as sad-sack as Alone Again (Naturally) (1972).
posted by hwyengr at 6:38 PM on July 16

And having spent 6 weeks at #1, do I win?!?
posted by hwyengr at 6:40 PM on July 16

New York Mining Disaster 1941.

[drops mic, fast-forwards ten years to the disco era, boogies]
posted by yhbc at 6:53 PM on July 16

I have an unreasonable affection for the Bee-Gee's "let's be the Beatles!" phase, but my favorite was their psychedelic, nearly-proto-Zeppelin phase: Every Christian Lionhearted Man Will Show You
posted by Anoplura at 7:03 PM on July 16

ah, ah, ah, ah, stayin' alive (barely), stayin' alive....
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:05 PM on July 16

"The Carroll County Accident"a by Porter Waggoner made the Top 100. Not gruesome, just a great song about a car accident.
posted by goatdog at 7:29 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]

I can't believe no one has mentioned Detroit Rock City yet.
posted by monospace at 7:44 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]

Eminem's Stan involves a suicide-by-car.
posted by divabat at 7:53 PM on July 16

There was whiskey and blood all together
Mixed with glass where they lay
Death played her hand in destruction
But I didn't hear nobody pray.

I wish I could change this sad story
That I am now telling you
But there is no way I can change it
For somebody's life is now through.

Their soul has been called by the Master
They died in a crash on the way
And I heard the groans of the dying
But, I didn't hear nobody pray.

posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:07 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]

I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I remember -- being kinda shocked by this record, but the local progressive station played it a lot at the time. I also remember liking the bassline on the chorus.

So yeah, you folks bringing up "Leader of the Pack", "Timothy", "Shannon", "Seasons in the Sun", and so on -- have you ever heard "DOA"? There's a link to a clip right up there. These other songs refer to death f'shoo, but they aren't any more gruesome than a murder ballad.

I mean -- DOA isn't just telling you that there was a plane crash. It's a first person account of dying of injuries following a plane crash. "Blood . . . pain . . . my arm's gone . . . my girlfriend is lying dead next to me . . . 'there's no hope for you' . . . "

There might be some other songs that cover bleeding to death, dismemberment, and such, but those mentioned so far are more obituary than death scene reportage. "Dead Man's Curve" comes closest, I guess, with Jan's recounting the crash to the 'Doc'.

Here's Brenda Lee's "Coming On Strong" (a forgotten song, apparently).

James Taylor had a lyric in "Fire and Rain" about "flying machines in pieces on the ground".

"Fire and Rain" is not about an airplane crash. The flying machine in question was a band.

Then there's Zager and Evans (cf. "In the Year 2525") "Mister Turnkey".

posted by Herodios at 8:23 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]

I'm reminded that everything about the aesthetic of the fifteen year-old white boy is silly, overwrought, and stupid.
posted by sonascope at 12:29 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]

From the album Final Exam (1978)...
Who's afraid of flying
I'm just afraid of crashing
That's why my face is whitening
And my teeth are gnashing
Jesus, can you save us
I'll become Jehovah's witness
The stewardess is smiling
But I know she's scared shitless
Loudon Wainwright III: Fear With Flying
posted by Mister Bijou at 2:25 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]

Drunken Milkman
posted by quinndexter at 2:49 AM on July 17

Can't believe no one has posted The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
posted by MexicanYenta at 3:43 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]

No Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos) mentions in here? For shame.
posted by jferg at 5:11 AM on July 17

Hey, if shipwrecks are allowed: "32 Down On The Robert Mackenzie"
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:25 AM on July 17

Y'all are forgetting the gruesome song that reached #1 on the Billboard charts:*

When they found her Christmas morning,
At the scene of the attack.
She had hoof prints on her forehead,
And incriminating Claus marks on her back.

* It reached #1 on the Comedy Digital Tracks chart
posted by ejs at 9:21 AM on July 17 [5 favorites]

Can't believe no one has posted The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Possibly sung to the tune of "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald".
posted by Quindar Beep at 1:20 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]

Under the sub-category of cheery modern pop tunes with extremely morbid lyrics you'll find pumped up kicks
posted by TheShadowKnows at 2:43 PM on July 17 [3 favorites]

Yes! Wolf Creek Pass! I had the misfortune to be working in radio the year Convoy dominated the charts (an earworm it took a decade to dislodge), but WCP was a breath of fresh air outside a chicken barn. (And when in my youth, I visited my uncle the egg rancher, I learned just what a barn full of chickens smelled like.) I still rank Wolf Creek Pass as the single Greatest Country Rap song ever, and C.W. the Best Country Rapper.

And . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . for that top row of chickens.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:52 PM on July 17 [3 favorites]

I had it on an album called Keep On Truckin' that my father found in a K-mart bargain bin. The album also contained classics such as The Trucker and the UFO and Teddy Bear's Last Ride (the reason he bought the album, because it made him cry, but it just made me hurl). But I LOVED Wolf Creek Pass! I would play it over and over.

I was going to do "Wreck of the Hesperus" for my eighth-grade English class recitation assignment, but I got really bored with it and it never gelled for me (was never really a Longfellow fan), and then I realized I knew WCP by heart, so I went in and rattled it off in my best C. W. McCall voice (imagine that coming out of an eighth-grade girl in a rainbow sweater). My teacher could barely keep a straight face. It was awesome.

Almost twenty years later, when on a road trip out West Dr. Tully Monster and I hurtled up over Wolf Creek Pass and down into downtown Pagosa Springs (fortunately with working brakes and without chickens), it was like a dream come true.
posted by tully_monster at 5:34 PM on July 17 [6 favorites]

Well, it's not really gruesome, but it's about death and it's certainly cringe-inducing: Honey.
posted by she's not there at 4:50 AM on July 18 [2 favorites]

Of course, there's also Harry Chapin's 30,000 Pounds of Bananas, about a truck driver who loses his brakes on a steep downhill run:

It was then that he lost his head
not to mention an arm or two before he stopped
And he smeared for four hundred yards....
posted by easily confused at 5:25 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]

Clickhole's "The Wreck Of The HMS Christmas" (to the tune of Edmund Fitzgerald) is the derail America needs right now.
posted by Cookiebastard at 8:40 AM on July 18

Speaking of Wolf Creek Pass (way up on the Great Divide!), here's some news from this week:

Semi-truck spills 42,100 pounds of beer on Wolf Creek Pass.
posted by asperity at 11:02 AM on July 18 [2 favorites]

I'm skimming this list of a few dozen songs about death—most of which make me either smile or groan—and I'm starting to wonder if there are any serious, heart-wrenching songs on the subject. Edmund Fitzgerald and New York Mining Disaster refer to real tragedies, of course, but I don't have a true emotional reaction to the songs.

Then I see msalt has linked to People Who Died, which I find so heartbreaking I can barely stand to listen it, but once it starts playing I feel obligated to hear all the stories through.

(As I was writing, I remembered Kendrick Lamar's Sing About Me, which seems a fitting addition to this list. And now I'm thinking of several songs re death at the hands of the police, but I'm going to stop before I drain all the fun out of this thread.)
posted by she's not there at 1:42 PM on July 18

Well, "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" is a gut punch.

In the courtroom of honor, the judge pounded his gavel
To show that all's equal and that the courts are on the level
And that the strings in the books ain't pulled and persuaded
And that even the nobles get properly handled
Once that the cops have chased after and caught 'em
And that the ladder of law has no top and no bottom
Stared at the person who killed for no reason
Who just happened to be feelin' that way without warnin'
And he spoke through his cloak, most deep and distinguished
And handed out strongly, for penalty and repentance
William Zanzinger with a six-month sentence
Oh, but you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears
Bury the rag deep in your face
For now's the time for your tears

posted by Johnny Wallflower at 2:25 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]

I can't help but feel that Ray Peterson's Tell Laura I Love Her should be up for discussion...
posted by Tasmanian_Kris at 4:40 AM on July 20

Well, it's not really gruesome, but it's about death and it's certainly cringe-inducing: Honey.

Yeah, maudlin is nearer the mark here. A huge hit that also appears on many Most Hated Songs lists.

I always wondered what kind of job kept him working so late that she was watching a "sad and silly late late show" when he finally stumbled in.

posted by she's not there

Who? Nobody told me about her.
posted by Herodios at 6:14 AM on July 20

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