Disaster Songs – 10 great songs that turn tragedy into art

Leader of the pack – Written by George Morton and recorded by Shangri-Las in 1964. Betty falls in love with Jimmy, the leader of a motorcycle gang. Betty’s parents don’t like Jimmy and force her to break up. When he does, Jimmy accelerates into the rainy night. Betty asks him to slow down, but he loses control of his bike.

Tell Laura that I love her – Recorded in 1960 by Ray Peterson and later by Ricky Valance. Tommy wants to buy his girlfriend a wedding ring and participates in a stock car race in hopes of winning the $ 1000 prize. During the race, his car flips over and bursts into flames. Tommy’s last words are to tell Laura that he loves her.

Hell bat – Written by Jim Steinman and performed by Meat Loaf. “Bat Out of Hell” has all the elements a teenage tragedy needs. There is the boy who lives in a world of evil and shadows and the girl who brings light and goodness into his life. The boy rides his motorcycle too fast and misses a curve. As he lies dying next to his burning bike, his heart beats so hard it explodes out of his chest.

Teen angel – Recorded by Mark Dinning in 1959. Written by Jean Dinning and her husband, this song is about a girl and her boyfriend on a walk. The car stops on the train tracks and the boy takes the girl to safety. The girl runs back to the car and is hit by the train. When they find his body, she grabs the boy’s high school ring.

Last Kiss – Written by Wayne Cochran of CC Riders. The song began in 1956. Shortly before Christmas 1962, a 16-year-old named Jeanette went out with a group of friends. Another car collided with a truck and got in the way of Jeanette’s car. Three teenagers died and the rest were seriously injured. The accident inspired Cochran to finish the song and dedicate it to Jeanette.

Dead man’s curve – Written by Roger Christian and Jan Berry and recorded by the duo Jan and Dean. The song is about an endurance race that begins at Sunset and Vine and ends at Dead Man’s Curve. The two cars, a Corvette Sting Ray and a Jaguar XKE, are tied as they approach the curve, but then collide, killing both drivers.

Lightning bolts – Written and recorded by the band Live in 1995. The song was dedicated to a 19-year-old friend of the band who was killed by a drunk driver. Many of her organs were donated, including her liver, which was given to a 10-month-old baby. The song reflects on how his death allowed others to live.

Entitled – Written and recorded in 1995 by Simple Plan. The lyrics describe the dying thoughts of an accident victim, but the music video tells a bigger story. A drunk driver crosses the path of a car driven by a teenage girl. The girl dies while the drunk driver is unharmed. The video illustrates the impact of the girl’s death on her family and friends. MADD uses this song in their campaigns against drunk driving.

DOA – Recorded in 1971 by Bloodrock. The song is based on a plane crash that killed the entire Wichita State University football team. The lyrics are an account of a victim who survived the initial accident. Surrounded by parts of the body, he sees the hopelessness on the face of the attending physician. The sirens in the background go off at the end of the song to inform us that the victim has died.

Wreck on the road – Written and performed by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. It tells the story of a man who witnesses a hit-and-run accident on a rainy night. The man cannot sleep, tortured by what he saw. Springsteen was inspired by a 1940s Roy Acuff song of the same name and says the song was a turning point in his worldview and songwriting style.

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