Death Cab for Cutie

Songfacts®:

  • The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band famously performed "Death Cab for Cutie" at the end of The Beatles' 1967 Magical Mystery Tour film. The Bonzos were asked personally by Paul McCartney to be in the film as they were gaining popularity in Britain at the time.
  • Written by the group's singer Vivian Stanshall, the initial inspiration for this song was the title of an old American pulp fiction crime magazine he once came across.

    The origin of the phrase "Death Cab for Cutie" can be traced to a book by British Academic Richard Hoggart. In 1957, Hoggart published a book called The Uses of Literacy which discussed British popular culture and cultural studies. The phrase appears in Chapter 8, part C which is titled "Sex and Violence Novels."
  • The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band singer Vivian Stanshall wanted to sing this as a comedic send-up of Elvis Presley. Stanshall sang the song in the style of teenage tragedy songs, such as "Teen Angel" by Mark Dinning.
  • The Bellingham, Washington indie rockers Death Cab for Cutie named their band after this song. Lead singer Ben Gibbord says that if he knew his band would still be popular 15 years after they formed, he would've picked "something more obvious" for a band name.
  • The '80s group Culture Club referenced this track in their song "Crime Time," which appeared on Culture Club's 1984 album Waking Up with the House on Fire. The Bonzos singer Vivian Stanshall later died in an unfortunate house fire in 1995.
  • In 1975, Alex Chilton of the influential American rock band Big Star performed a cover of "Death Cab for Cutie" on Memphis radio station WLYX.

Comments: 1

  • Jim from Morgantown, Wv"The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band singer Vivian Stanshall wanted to sing this as a comedic send-up of Elvis Presley. Stanshall sang the song in the style of teenage tragedy songs, such as "Teen Angel" by Mark Dinning."

    This statement couldn't be more wrong. It is very obviously and Elvis parody. Did the person who wrote this actually listen to the song?
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Sub Pop Founder Bruce Pavitt On How To Create A Music Scene

Sub Pop Founder Bruce Pavitt On How To Create A Music SceneSong Writing

With $50 and a glue stick, Bruce Pavitt created Sub Pop, a fanzine-turned-label that gave the world Nirvana and grunge. He explains how motivated individuals can shift culture.

Dean Friedman - "Ariel"

Dean Friedman - "Ariel"They're Playing My Song

Dean's saga began with "Ariel," a song about falling in love with a Jewish girl from New Jersey.

Graham Parker

Graham ParkerSongwriter Interviews

When Judd Apatow needed under-appreciated rockers for his Knocked Up sequel, he immediately thought of Parker, who just happened to be getting his band The Rumour back together.

The Untold Story Of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine

The Untold Story Of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary MachineSong Writing

Fiona's highly-anticipated third album almost didn't make it. Here's how it finally came together after two years and a leak.

Krishna Das

Krishna DasSongwriter Interviews

The top chant artist in the Western world, Krishna Das talks about how these Hindu mantras compare to Christian worship songs.

Prince

PrinceFact or Fiction

Prince is shrouded in mystery, making him an excellent candidate for Fact or Fiction. Is he really a Scientologist? Does he own an exotic animal?