7 songs about car crashes

James Dean was commemorated by The Beach Boys in their song “A Young Man Is Gone.” Hulton Archive/Stringer/Getty Images

We dedicated the May/June 2023 issue of Hagerty Drivers Club magazine to the deep connections between music and cars, including several fun lists featuring your favorite car songs. Come back often or click the Music & Cars tag to stay up to date on these stories as they roll out online. You can also jam with our custom Music & Cars playlist on Spotify, available here.

Hard-partying musicians are certainly well represented among the millions who’ve died in car crashes, but perhaps none of the songs written about such accidents has been as eerily prescient as Jan & Dean’s “Dead Man’s Curve.” A 1963 hit about a street drag race gone wrong, it echoed loudly in memory when, in 1966, band member Jan Berry drove his Corvette into the back of a parked truck not far from the dangerous corner whose legend he and partner Dean Torrence had helped to cement. Berry and the band’s career were never the same.

The pride of El Sobrante, California, Primus scored its first hit in 1991 with “Jerry Was a Race Car Driver.” Penned by the punk-funk band’s virtuoso bass-playing leader, Les Claypool, it concerns an “I’ll show them” type of guy who’s in over his head and meets his end driving an Oldsmobile 4-4-2 too fast after many too many beers.

Here are seven more hits about fender-benders—and worse.

Jan & Dean

Well, the last thing I remember, Doc, I started to swerveAnd then I saw the Jag slide into the curveI know I’ll never forget that horrible sightI guess I found out for myself that everyone was rightWon’t come back from Dead Man’s Curve

Sounds a lot like the automotive equivalent of “you’ll shoot your eye out!”


Ray Peterson

He drove his car to the racing groundsHe was the youngest driver thereAnd the crowed roared as they started the race‘Round the track they drove at a deadly paceNo one knows what happened that dayHow his car overturned in flamesBut as they pulled him from the twisted wreckWith his dying breath, they heard him say . . .

” . . . I probably should have eased into this whole racing thing. Maybe some SCCA Solo, or just a high-performance driving experience to see if racing was right for me.”


Dave Edmunds

Crawling from the wreckage, crawling from the wreckageBits of me are scattered in the trees and on the hedgesCrawling from the wreckage, crawling from the wreckageInto a brand new car

How’s about you crawl into that ambulance first? Then we can talk about a new car.


David Bowie

Every chance,Every chance that I takeI take it on the roadThose kilometers and the red lightsI was always looking left and rightOh, but I’m always crashingIn the same car

Maybe less looking left and right, and more eyes forward? Try that for a while.


Mark Dinning

Teen angel, teen angel, teen angel, oohThat fateful night the car was stalled upon the railroad trackI pulled you out and we were safe, but you went running back

PSA: Don’t tug on Superman’s cape. Don’t spit into the wind. Don’t mess with the Lone Ranger’s mask. And never, ever, crawl back into a car when a train is barreling down on it.


The Beach Boys
“A YOUNG MAN IS GONE” (about James Dean)

For this daring young starMet his death while in his carNo one knows the reason why

Obviously, The Beach Boys don’t read Wikipedia, because it says exactly why right there.


They Might Be Giants

I got hit by a mink car
Hit by a mink car
Driven by a guitar
And the silver chauffeur says
That it’s all in your head

Or . . . it might be in that toad you just licked.




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    “Let me tell the story.”
    “I can tell it all.”
    “About the mountain boy,
    who ran illegal alcohol.”

    “His daddy made the whiskey.”
    “Son, he drove the load.”
    “When his engine roared,
    They called highway Thunder Road.”

    “We were flying along, and hit something in the air…I remember…………”

    Wow, that tripped a 50 year old memory.

    Great film noir movie-Mitchum defines the genre. Wish I looked that good in a fedora and shoulder padded double breasted suit-

    I always thought Robert Mitchum was the Steve McQueen of his time. Must have seen Thunder Road 50 times 🙂

    Transfusion, transfusion
    Oh doc, pardon me for this crazy intrusion
    I’m never, never, never gonna speed again
    Pump the fluid in me, Louie

    One of the great songs of the 50’s………..shoot the juice to me Bruce

    A friend used to sing the Teen Angel 3rd verse slightly different:

    “I’ll never kiss her lips again, they’re stuck to the front of the train.”

    And the chorus;
    “…are you somewhere up above, or scattered ’round the tracks, my love.”

    I liked John’s version better!

    Me too. How in the hell could they have omitted that one?! Youngsters in the editing department, I’m sure.

    You beat me to it! I was *sure* that song was going to make the list.

    We were out on a date in my daddy’s car
    We hadn’t driven very far
    There in the road, straight ahead
    A car was stalled, the engine was dead

    I couldn’t stop, so I swerved to the right
    I’ll never forget the sound that night
    The screamin’ tires, the bustin’ glass
    The painful scream that I heard last

    Oh, where, oh where, can my baby be?
    The Lord took her away from me
    She’s gone to heaven, so I’ve got to be good
    So I can see my baby when I leave this world

    I was a freshman in high school when that song came out. I can vividly remember whenever anyone heard that song come on we would all jump in my buddies t bird and turn the radio up as loud as we could and sang along with the song. Terrible singing but one of the old time best songs ever

    You missed some of the best ones from the largest groups ever.

    Detroit Rock City. Kiss. They even have the crash at the end of some versions.

    James Dean from the Eagles. Too fast to live too young to die and the Spyder took him to the sky. Life in the Fast Lane.

    Teen Angel.

    Three wooden Crosses Randy Travis

    Papa Loved Mama Garth Brooks

    7-11 Ramones

    Lightning Crashes Live

    One of the lesser known but one I thought was impactful was Terminus Eldorado. Ted Nugent. It is about a girl who stole her dads Cadillac and partied way to much and is killed in a head on crash.

    Someone did list Last Kiss as it was a two time hit in two eras.

    “She did not see the tandem gravel truck…” Ted’s “Terminus Eldorado” another underrated classic. How about this one, crash fans: Steve Earle’s “Copperhead Road” “… could smell the whiskey burnin’…” Nice.

    Glad you remembered, too. C. W. had several great songs, several about Colorado, where he lived many years, before his death. and, how about Convoy/

    Detroit Rock City (kiss) I have the original LP that I bought when the album came out. Has the car crash at the end.

    Actually, there is no car crash in “Hot Rod Lincoln.”

    I amsurprised that “Transfusion” did not make the list.

    May 1956 By Nervous Norvus omn Dot record label. Was still a teenager when this came out. There was an unconfirmed rumor by our local DJ that this song was written for the NY Safety Council and just got popular with the kids.

    Wayne Cochran, nicknamed the “White Knight of Soul.” The singer-songwriter released his original version of “Last Kiss” in 1961, and it went on to become a number-two hit in two cover versions.

    How about Rinding with Pvt Malone? by David Ball the red 66 corvette brings tears to my eyes. 1963 swc owner.

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