Friday Five: Plane Crashes
On February 3, 1959, exactly 53 years ago today, a small plane carrying three of America’s biggest music artists went down in bad weather just outside of Clear Lake, Iowa. Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson all would perish in what would become known as The Day the Music Died. By all accounts, country star Waylon Jennings should have also been aboard. Richardson asked for Jennings’ seat because of a bad case of the flu. When Holly learned that Jennings wasn’t going to fly, he said in jest, “Well, I hope your ol’ bus freezes up” and Jennings teased back, “Well, I hope your ol’ plane crashes.” Those close to Jennings said those words would haunt the legend for the rest of his days. With today’s Friday Five, we share five songs inspired by or about plane crashes.
5. Dusty Drake – “One Last Time”
This 2003 release made it to the middle of the charts and was about one last phone call a husband is able to make to his wife from an airplane that’s going down. It was largely interpreted as a reflection of a September 11 plane crash.
4. Highwaymen – “Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)”
This old Woody Guthrie song details the 1948 California plane crash that killed 32, including 28 Mexican migrant workers that were being deported back to their homeland. Old Crow Medicine Show also recorded the song for the box set Song of America.
3. Mark Wills – “Wish You Were Here”
This story about love after death was the title track of Wills’ 1999 album. The song would become Wills’ first Number One single of his career.
2. Reba McEntire – “If I Had Only Known”
McEntire tragically lost eight member of her road band in a California plane crash in March of 1991 and this song, on her For My Broken Heart album released late that same year, was dedicated in their honor.
1. Don McLean – “American Pie”
If we’re honoring those that perished on this date back in 1959, we probably need to do it with the song that celebrated them and named the day. Don McLean’s classic has been long listed as one of the most influential songs of the last century and although the lyrics are poetic puzzlement to some (the lyrics lend themselves to several different interpretations, as Valens, Holly, and the Big Bopper are never named in the song), it will forever be tied to that fateful plane crash.
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