A Dustland Fairytale

Album: Day & Age (2008)
Play Video


  • Killers frontman Brandon Flowers wrote this song while his mother, Jean, was battling cancer. The lyrics are very abstract, but they tell the story of how his mother and father met when they were both 15 and living in the same trailer park. "It was an attempt to better understand my dad, who is sometimes a mystery to me," Flowers posted on his social media accounts. "To grieve for my mother. To acknowledge their sacrifices and maybe even catch a glimpse of just how strong love needs to be to make it in this world. It was my therapy. It was cathartic."

    Jean Flowers died in 2010 at 64.
  • Flowers told Rolling Stone magazine that this song started out "just kind of ripping off" the Velvet Underground song "Waiting for the Man." He said, "I guess it's the most like Sam's Town on the album."
  • Flowers told The Quietus why he wrote a song about his mom and dad. He explained: "It's an attempt to come to grips with the fact that they're getting older. I'm quite young for them - I was a mistake, heh heh. They're in their mid 60s, and my dad is my connection to the pure America. Yes, I pray every day. It's like a love letter I guess. I see what's happening now with the kids, and…it was just simpler back then. There's so much junk now."
  • In 2021, Bruce Springsteen joined The Killers to rework this song as "Dustland." It all started when Brandon Flowers got a text in February 2020 from an unknown sender that read:

    "We gotta do Dustland one day. - Bruce"

    Figuring it just might be that Bruce, Flowers texted Springsteen's son, Evan (whom he's friends with), and verified that it did indeed come from Bruce Springsteen.

    COVID-19 put it on hold, but they eventually got together for the song. Flowers posted: "Bruce has written a lot about people like my parents and found a whole lot of beauty in otherwise invisible people's hopes and dreams. Their struggles, and their losses. I'm grateful to him for opening this door for me. I'm grateful to my parents for their example to me."

Comments: 7

  • Carol from HomeLove it
  • Dan from New YorkBrandon said in an interview that his mother, Jean Flowers, was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer when he was putting the song together, before he recorded it in the studio. Knowing that her time was near, he wanted to learn as much about her life and all the knowledge his parents had to share, including the story of how they met. He then released A Dustland Fairytale with Day & Age in November 2008. When Brandon's mother had about 9 months left to live, he performed the song live with a full orchestra on David Letterman, a performance that is considered to be one of his most emotional. She lost her battle with cancer that February. Please remember the mother who raised him to be the wonderful man we know every time you hear this song.
  • Barb from Philadelphia, PaThis is by far, my favorite song of theirs.
  • Paris from Cardiff, United Kingdomits lovely that Brandon wrote this song about his parents, and it's great to see that the 'fame game' hasn't gone to there heads too :) Also, if he was a mistake, it was very lucky (lol) because there would be no Killers without him...gorgeous song guys, i love all your work
  • Theresa from Murfreesboro, TnGorgeous ballad! Brandon Flowers knows how to convey emotion through his unique lyrics.
  • Maxine from Leeds, United KingdomI love this one too. I find it quite haunting though despite the fact that it speeds up.
  • Kylie from Ventura, CaThis song is very beautiful. Love everything about it.
see more comments

Editor's Picks


HardySongwriter Interviews

The country hitmaker talks about his debut album, A Rock, and how a nursery rhyme inspired his hit single "One Beer."

Stephen Christian of Anberlin

Stephen Christian of AnberlinSongwriter Interviews

The lead singer/lyricist for Anberlin breaks down "Impossible" and covers some tracks from their 2012 album Vital.

Gary Louris of The Jayhawks

Gary Louris of The JayhawksSongwriter Interviews

The Jayhawks' song "Big Star" has special meaning to Gary, who explains how longevity and inspiration have trumped adulation.

Jonathan Edwards - "Sunshine"

Jonathan Edwards - "Sunshine"They're Playing My Song

"How much does it cost? I'll buy it?" Another songwriter told Jonathan to change these lyrics. Good thing he ignored this advice.

Edie Brickell

Edie BrickellSongwriter Interviews

Edie Brickell on her collaborations with Paul Simon, Steve Martin and Willie Nelson, and her 2021 album with the New Bohemians.

Director Paul Rachman on "Hunger Strike," "Man in the Box," Kiss

Director Paul Rachman on "Hunger Strike," "Man in the Box," KissSong Writing

After cutting his teeth on hardcore punk videos, Paul defined the grunge look with his work on "Hunger Strike" and "Man in the Box."