Top 10 Songs of Vehicular Death

[Brent Chittenden is feeling particularly morbid this week.  But face it:  you slow down when you drive past an accident, don’t you?  – AC]

The Huffington Post recently posted a list of the top ten car crash songs and I personally found their list a little, well, lacking. So when stuff like that happens, I tend to try and prove myself as the bigger brain on bread, I went and created my own list of not only car accident songs but planes and trains as well. Yes it’s our list of The Top Ten Songs of Vehicular Death! (WARNING! If this spoils your travel plans, I am not responsible)

10) The Grateful Dead – Casey Jones

While the song is only vaguely about a train accident (the third verse is pretty telling), it’s inspired in part by the tale of Casey Jones who ended up dying in a valiant effort to try and stop his train from destroying an another.


9) Radiohead – Airbag

The first track off Radiohead’s OK Computer is all about automobile accidents and reincarnation.


8) James Taylor – Fire and Rain

Sure the line about flying machines on the ground might be about his old band but if that were true, why would he change the line when singing to Homer Simpson when Homer went into space?


7) KISS – Detroit Rock City

A tribute to a possible KISS fan dying in a car accident on his way to a Kiss show.  Wonder if he was in full make up?


6) Don Mclean – American Pie 

Probably the most famous song about one of the most famous plane crashes ever.  [And, it should be noted, the lyrics also reference Bob Dylan’s 1965 motorcycle accident. – AC]


5) Bruce Springsteen – Wreck on the Highway

I’m a big fan of Springsteen but wow, this is pretty much a minute by minute description of a very awful night.


4) Wayne Cochran – Last Kiss

Has anyone ever paid attention to the lyrics of this song? Holy crap this song is depressing.  [This song was also a hit for a Canadian group called Wednesday in the 70s–and it was a giant #2 Billboard hit for Pearl Jam. – AC]


3) Gordon Lightfoot – The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald

For those of our readers who aren’t Canadian, this Lightfoot standard is probably one of the best modern shipwreck songs. Useless trivia note: Gordon Lightfoot and I are second cousins but have never met.


2) The Smiths – There Is A Light That Never Goes Out

Even by Morrissey standards this is pretty grim. “And if a double-decker bus crashes into us/ To die by your side Is such a heavenly way to die/And if a ten-ton truck Kills the both of us/ To die by your side/  Well, the pleasure – the privilege is mine.” Wow.


1) The Shangri-Las – Leader of the Pack

If this list teaches you anything I hope it’s that when you drive at night be very careful. So now that you’re all good and scared of moving vehicles, what songs do you think should have been on this list? Please leave your suggestions below!


I have a couple – AC:

U2 – One Tree Hill:  This Joshua Tree song was written in memory of Greg Carroll, a friend of Bono’s who was killed in a motorcycle accident in Dublin in 1986.

Eagles – James Dean:  We all know what happened to him in his Porsche 356, right?  From the Eagles 1974 album, On the Border.

Elton John – Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding:  I somehow remember reading that this was written partly in tribute to someone who died in a motorcycle accident.  Does anyone remember the story?

The Normal – Warm Leatherette:  A late addition.  Thanks to @tbrouwer for the nudge.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

10 thoughts on “Top 10 Songs of Vehicular Death

  • November 23, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    What, no Meatloaf? I was sure Bat Out Of Hell would have made the list.

  • November 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Comeback Kid – G.M. Vincent & I

  • November 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    How could this list not include DOA by Bloodrock, one of the most graphic descriptions of an airplane crash ever captured?

  • November 23, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    Collision – Faith No More

  • November 23, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Call yourself Canadian? Where is Big League by Tom Cochrane & Red Rider?
    I thought it would be a lock.

  • November 23, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Warm Leatherette by The Normals or as covered by Grace Jones or Trent Reznor.

  • November 23, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    What about 30,000 pounds of bananas by harry chapin? those poor bananas.

  • November 24, 2012 at 2:13 am

    Good List. Additions: Golden Earring – Radar Love.
    Porcupine Tree – The Incident – entire album is about a car accident.

  • November 28, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Last Kiss – J Frank Wilson
    Tell Laura I Love Her – Ray Peterson

  • November 28, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Rammstein by Rammstein

    About the Ramstein airshow disaster.


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