Old Favourites: Dave Carroll – “United Breaks Guitars”

“I should have flown with someone else, or gone by car…”

This fiasco went down circa 2009, but I was too busy walking around university with a finger up my arse to notice anything that wasn’t Merriweather Post Pavilion. It was recently brought to my attention thanks to The Checkout, the outstanding new ABC show from Chaser alumni Julian Morrow and Craig Reucassel. To launch their customer-service rant website, FUTube, they Skyped charming Canadian singer/songwriter Dave Carroll to discuss how his music video was a complete game-changer.

For context: He took a flight with United Airlines, and due to luggage mistreatment his guitar – an acoustic Taylor, worth three-and-a-half grand – was broken at the headstock. He took it up with United, who subsequently fucked the guy over until he couldn’t take it anymore. He decided to get revenge in the best way that he knew – he made a music video for a brand-new original song; in which he when into specific detail regarding how the airline mistreated him. Almost instantly, the video was a runaway success, ending up with major PR dramas for old mates United. Taylor Guitars themselves even donated two brand-new guitars to Dave; and when he finally got compensation from the airline, he gave it to charity. What a legend!

As for the video, it’s a very charming shoestring-budget clip, in which Dave even gets to play the broken guitar in question. The extras are the ones that make this for me – his backing band dressed up as Mariachi singers, the apathetic stewardesses and the bumbling comic timing of the two guys playing the luggage carriers. It’s fascinating how this managed to create such a stir, and how the medium of the music video has done so much in this regard. There’s even a book about this whole ordeal now, written by DC himself. Just goes to show what a little creativity can get you – in this case, there’s a chance of a minor revolution!

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