FlourishAnyway believes there is a playlist for just about any situation and is on a mission to unite and entertain the world through song.
Car Accidents Create Lasting Impacts
On average, there are 6 million car accidents in the United States each year. At some point you may have been among them. Each day on average, more than 90 people die from car crashes, about 3 million people in vehicle wrecks are injured (2 million permanently), and 1 in 7 of them are not wearing their seatbelts. This destruction costs real lives and creates real health impacts.
Sadly, my dear cousin hit a tree on a country road several years ago and was instantly killed in a single-vehicle accident. This playlist is dedicated to him as a means of raising awareness of important sources of car accidents, including drunk driving, texting while driving, and fatigue. Shine a light on driving safety with a list of pop, rock, and country songs about car accidents.
1. "I Love It" by Icona Pop (Featuring Charli XCX)
What kind of person crashes their car into a bridge on purpose and then just watches as it burns? In this 2012 electropop tune, the Swedish girls of Icona Pop are fed up with their boyfriends so they're ditching them.
This global hit is not just a break up song but one in which the protagonist tells her much older boyfriend to shove off. While he is very stable and down to earth she is irresponsible and hard to control (hence the intentional car wreck). They are on different paths, and she's done with this guy. Neither her car nor her boyfriend mean anything to her anymore. (Hey, little sis, wait until those insurance premiums roll in. We'll see who starts caring about their driving record then.)
2. "Riding with Private Malone" by David Ball
When a veteran fresh out of the service peruses the classified ads, little does he know that the Chevy advertised is actually a 1966 Corvette—the real deal. The haunted car had been stored in a barn, suspended in time and left to collect three decades of dust. It also harbored a poignant note in the glove box from the car's previous owner, Private Andrew Malone, who didn't make it back from Vietnam. Once his dream, the vehicle has now become the narrator's to treasure.
As the new owner restores the vintage vehicle, sometimes he can feel Private Malone's presence around him. In particular, he suspects that the soldier's ghost rides shotgun with him. One night, when the man takes a curve too fast and crashes into flames, witnesses report seeing a spectral figure that they describe as looking like Private Malone pulling him out of the wreckage. This eerie 2001 country song crossed over to the mainstream pop chart for good reason. It'll give you chills.
3. "Stan" by Eminem (Featuring Dido)
This isn't just any song about your run-of-the-mill car crash. "Stan" (2000) is one of the best hip hop songs ever. Even if this isn't your favorite genre, it's hard not to respect Eminem's talent here.
Eminem's signature song tells the story of a crazed fan's murder/suicide by car. This was named to Rolling Stone's list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time." "Stan" is also part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's unordered list of Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
This phenomenally intense track describes the obsessive devotion of a fictional character, a fan named Stanley "Stan" Mitchell, who writes increasingly troubled letters to Eminem (i.e., Slim Shady). Feeling ignored, the overzealous fan becomes irate when he doesn't receive responses from Slim in return.
Under the influence of vodka and other depressants, Stan makes a voice recording for Slim as he heads towards a bridge in his car. Fed up with life, he reveals that his pregnant girlfriend is bound and inside the trunk. The unhinged man realizes at the last moment that he has no way to get the cassette tape to its intended target.
Slim doesn't know that it's too late to do any good, but he writes his maniacally devoted fan back and urges him to seek counseling before he hurts himself. In recounting a recent news story to Stan about a drunken man who drove over a bridge with his pregnant girlfriend in the trunk, Slim suddenly realizes that that was actually Stan himself. The term "stan" or "stanning" has since come to be associated with overly fervent fans who are obsessed with a celebrity. Are you stanning for anyone?
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4. "Life in the Fast Lane" by Eagles
The three biggest impediments to safe driving include speed, driving while impaired or distracted, and aggressive driving. All three of these elements can be found in this 1977 hit rock song about a couple who live the free-wheeling, party lifestyle of drugs, risky behavior, and foolhardy pleasure-seeking. Borrowed straight from this number, the term "life in the fast lane" thereafter became associated with a reckless, action-packed lifestyle.
5. "Frozen" by Joyner Lucas (featuring Jade Novah)
No wonder there is regret and cursing in this 2018 hiphop tune. You'd feel that way too if someone else's stupid decision had lasting and devastating impacts upon your life, and suddently it was lights out for you.
Taking the perspective of three very different victims, this song raises safe driving awareness in a way that typical safety advertisements and messages cannot. First, a little girl is ripped from her family when she is killed by a driver who is texting while driving. A pregnant woman then grieves her own death at the hands of a drunk driver. Finally, a young man who ignores warnings about driving reckless races his car, resulting in his own death.
6. "Teen Angel" by Mark Dinning
Aww, don't go back for the ring! This sad 1959 teenage tragedy song reached the top spot on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and told the story about a car vs. train accident that didn't bode well for a 16-year-old girl. Singer Mark Dinning was a one-hit-wonder with this tune.
A teenage couple was out on a date one night when the young man's car stalled on the railroad tracks. Valiantly he pulled his sweetheart out of the vehicle to safety, but the young woman darted back at the last moment to recover his class ring. When her mangled body was later recovered, the young woman was still clutching the ring in her palm. That memory haunts him still.
7. "I Hope They Get to Me in Time" by Darius Rucker
As the narrator in this 2008 country tune hears sirens blare in the background and smells the toxic mix of smoke and gasoline, he sees his life flash before him. He's been involved in a serious alcohol-related car accident, and this may be the end for him if rescue crews can't get to him in time. The lyrics don't make it clear whether he or the other driver was the drunk driver.
While waiting anxiously, the narrator recalls happy times from childhood as well as lifting the veil of his bride and holding his own infant. Although injured, he begs God for a second chance: give him more time on earth.
8. "Jesus Take the Wheel" by Carrie Underwood
In this 2005 Grammy Award-winning country crossover hit, a young mother has her baby in tow as she set heads back home to Cincinnati for Christmas Eve. She almost doesn't arrive, however. A near-miss accident prompts her to reevaluate her life path.
Driving way too fast, the mother's car meets with a patch of slick black ice, thereby sending the vehicle careening out of control. Helpless at steering the car to safety by herself, she throws her hands up and places her fate and that of her child in Jesus' hands. When they miraculously arrive unblemished on the shoulder of the road, she is shaken by the harrowing experience. Consequently, she resolves to recommit herself to God.
9. "Last Kiss" by Pearl Jam
Pearl Jam revived the doleful car 1964 crash song that was originally a hit for J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers. "Last Kiss" not only made the 1960s group a one-hit-wonder but it also became Pearl Jam's high-ranking song (#2 on the US Billboard charts).
Tragically, Frank Wilson and his band lost their manager to a head-on collison when the manager fell asleep behind the wheel. He was transporting the band from one gig to another. The accident that killed the manager seriously injured serveral band members.
This simple ballad is about a teenage couple who are out on a date. Upon coming across a car that is stalled in the roadway, the teen boy swerves in a violent crash. There were "screaming tires," "bustin' glass" and a foreboding, "painful scream."
Both the driver and his passenger black out as a result of the accident. However, when the young man awakes, he is horrified to realize that his darling girlfriend is dying. He holds his beloved close and kisses her one last time before she crosses over to her eternal home. The melancholy 1999 rock ballad helped to raise $10 million in charitable relief on behalf of Kosovo refugees.
10. "Three Wooden Crosses" by Randy Travis
In a tragic story of a vehicle crash ending in redemption, this country tune from 2002 begins with a bus of people heading to Mexico for various reasons. Among those on board are a vacationing farmer, a teacher seeking higher education, a hooker and a preacher (both of whom were "searching for lost souls").
Sadly, the bus runs a stop sign and is hit by an 18-wheeler, killing all of the passengers except one. Three wooden crosses now memorialize the lost lives of the travellers who died. As the preacher lay dying in the wreckage, he asks the hooker if she can see the Promised Land, and in her hands he places his blood-soaked Bible.
The last part of this compelling song reveals that the woman lived to have a son who is now a preacher himself. As he holds that blood-stained Bible that his mother was given in the accident, he recounts the tale of how she found salvation among death and despair that day.
11. "Tonight Is the Night I Fell Asleep at the Wheel" by Barenaked Ladies
Don't let the carnival sounds fool you. Although they give this pop tune from 2000 a frolicky merrymaking vibe, this is a morose car crash song that offers a blow-by-blow account of a fatal single-car accident.
The driver in this song is running late (well, "almost on time") when he falls asleep at the wheel. He vividly describes his car flipping, the resulting thud, and the crowd of looky-loos that gather. Then, of course, there are the futile attempts of firefighters to rescue him using the jaws of life.
As the narrator finds himself outside of his body and looking down, he can see the goofy expression on his face—a grin because he was thinking of his sweetheart before he fell asleep. (Note the intriguing double meaning to "You're the last thing that's on my mind.")
12. "Limousine" by Brand New
Horrifying doesn't begin to describe the incident that inspired this 2006 indie-rock tune. Keep this in mind as you listen to this sad song.
A seven-year-old girl named Katie Flynn from Long Island, NY, was the flower girl in a family wedding in 2005 when the limousine that she and her family were riding in was hit head-on by 24-year-old Martin Heidgen. Heidgen was driving drunk and traveling 70 miles per hour down the wrong side of a major highway. His blood alcohol level was in excess of three times the legal limit. The band wrote this song because they grew up in the same town and were deeply affected by the tragedy. They knew others who had driven intoxicated that same weekend.
The limo driver was killed in the accident, and Katie was decapitated by the seatbelt. Other family members in the limosine were badly injured and piled on top of one another. Katie's mother sat on the side of the road with Katie's head in her lap for an hour as ambulance crews attended to survivors. Heidgen was later convincted of two counts of murder and sentenced to 18 years to life in prison.
13. "Halfway to Heaven" by Brantley Gilbert
This country ditty from 2010 is autobiographically inspired by Brantley Gilbert's near-fatal truck wreck when he was 19 years old. The song tells the story of how he took a swing at his best friend for trying to take his keys and the next thing he knew he was wrapped around a tree on the side of the highway with his life hanging by a thread. The life-changing incident prompted him to be a more responsible, loving person and a better man.
14. "Give Us Your Blessings" by Shangri-Las
An all-girl group with the tough girl image, The Shangri-Las originally consisted of two sets of sisters from Queens. Donning leather jackets and singing about love and teenage death, they weren't your average 1960s girl group. These were the same blue-collar girls who gave us the #1 hit, "The Leader of the Pack" (1964), that was about forbidden teenage love and the head of a motorcycle gang dying in a wreck.
Similarly, "Give Us Your Blessings" (1965) is about two young people eloping in tears after their parents refused to give them their blessings. The couple subsequently died in a car accident. Blame is ultimately placed on their parents. What a guilt trip!
15. "Through the Wire" by Kanye West
The inspiration for this hip hop song was Kanye's 2002 near-fatal car accident, which he called both the worst and best thing that happened to him. It was a brutal personal experience which transformed his music and ultimately catapulted his career.
At 3 a.m., another driver cut West off in his rented Lexus, whereupon he ran head-on into traffic, causing his vehicle to collide with another car. Doctors wired his jaw to his face as a result. West recorded this track two weeks later with his jaw still wired shut. The song uses heartbreaking humor to describe the difficulties he experienced during the recovery process, and it samples an accelerated version of Chaka Khan's 1985 single "Through the Fire".
16. "Car Crash" by Three Days Grace
Sometimes we see disaster coming straight for us but we cannot avoid it, much like cars that are about to collide. In this 2015 rock ditty there is an appropriate comparison between an unavoidable car accident and a toxic relationship with someone the narrator feels compelled to be with:
I came along for the ride
Went wicked with the clutch
Happened so fast and it hurt so much.
You're a car crash
And I can't look away.
17. "Highway Don't Care" by Tim McGraw (Featuring Taylor Swift & Keith Urban)
Speeding, emotionally distraught, and texting while driving—together they are a recipe for disaster for the young woman in this impactful 2013 country crossover ballad. Although the highway doesn't care whether she gets home safely in one piece, she has people who love her who want her to survive.
18. "Car Crash" by Matt Nathanson
Perhaps you recall this dark 2007 tune from back in the day when it came preloaded on the Philips Go Gear Mp3 player as a sample song. The guy in the song feels numb and apathetic to the point that he's willing to risk everything in order to experience genuine emotion and meaning in his life. He feels like he's dying on the inside, and if it takes something jarring like a bomb or a bad car accident to make him feel, then it will be worth it. Ultimately, the narrator's current existence lacks meaning, and he's seeking for a way to let go and be happier and more accepting.
19. "Hospital Flowers" by Owl City
If you find the perky nature of the song unsettling, perhaps you need to dig deeper for the meaning. Some people can take a horrible situation and find the good in it. That's exactly what the guy in this 2011 alt-rock tune does after surviving "the car crash of the century":
A high-speed collision gave a new sense of sight to me,
And now my vision can render the scene,
A blurry image of wreckage and roadside debris,
Happiness returned to me through a grave emergency.
Feeling lucky to be alive after surviving the high-speed collision, the narrator's new lease on life begins as he is transferred from the wreckage to the ambulance. Then, as his hospital room is filled with violets, a symbol of mental clarity, fear recedes and the light pours forth. Oh, happy day! Grace blesses him amidst this dire life-threatening accident. The song was inspired by the actual experience of a friend of the songwriter.
20. "See You There" by Joey Feek
In this heartrending 2005 country ditty, a narrator recalls a loved one's last moments and the scene of the car accident that took his life 10 years previously. "See you there," the last phrase spoken between them, takes on larger emotional significance.
The song was inspired by the death of Joey Feek's teenage brother who was killed in a car accident in 1994. Joey was part of the country bluegrass duo Joey + Rory. They rose to fame after placing third in the CMT competition Can You Duet and became best known for their single, "Cheater, Cheater." Joey tragically died in 2016 from cervical cancer at age 40. Let's hope she is with her brother now.
Even More Songs About Car Crashes
21. So Damn Lucky
Dave Matthews Band
22. I Came Here to Live
24. Bat Out of Hell
26. Tell Laura I Love Her
28. Jersey on the Wall (I'm Just Asking)
30. Hello, This Is Joanie
31. Days of Graduation
32. Papa Loved Mama
33. A Day in the Life
35. The End of the Tour
They Might Be Giants
36. The Approaching Curve
Rise Against the Machine
37. Wreck on the Highway
38. State Fair
39. Understanding in a Car Crash
40. Detroit Rock City
42. B.J. the D.J.
43. A Young Man Is Gone
The Beach Boys
44. Cindition Red
45. The Approaching Curve
47. Dead Man's Curve
Jan & Dean
48. Don't Pass Me By
49. The Carroll County Accident
50. The Artist in the Ambulance
51. Objects in The Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are
53. James Dean
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