30 July 2007

What the hell is a Death Cab For Cutie?

My beautiful friend Marlene D. and I were talking about the band Death Cab For Cutie which got me thinking if people know where their moniker comes from... Well, I happen to know because I am a collector of useless knowledge, and I'd like to share it with you.

The name is somewhat tied in with The Beatles and the infamous "Paul is dead" rumour.

But, it all starts with a band called The Bonzo Dog Band (also known as The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, The Bonzo Dog Dada Band and, colloquially, as "The Bonzos").

The Bonzo Dog Band was a band created by a group of British art-school denizens of the 1960's. The band wrote "Death Cab For Cutie" as a send-up of Elvis Presley. Like many early rock songs it tells a story of youthful angst. It's the story of "Cutie" who goes out on the town against her lover's wishes and she is killed when the taxicab she's in runs a red light and crashes. Tragic.

"Paul is dead" is an urban legend alleging that Paul McCartney died in a car accident in 1966 and was replaced by the winner of a McCartney look-alike contest.

Evidence for McCartney's death consists of "clues" found among the Beatles' many recordings, most of which are treated as if they were deliberately placed by the Beatles or others—as if McCartney's death was a mystery to be solved by the public. They include statements allegedly heard when a song is played backwards, symbolism found in obscure lyrics, and ambiguous imagery on album covers. It all makes a lot more sense when you're stoned I'm sure.

Though it is often unclear whether proponents spread this story as a joke or as a real conspiracy theory, a few "clues" are well-known, such as the fact that McCartney is the only barefoot Beatle on the cover of Abbey Road. The four Beatles on the album cover, according to the "Paul is Dead" myth, represent the priest (John, dressed in white), the undertaker (Ringo in a black suit), the corpse (Paul, in a suit but barefoot—like a body in a casket), and the gravedigger (George, in jeans and a denim work shirt).

The "Paul is dead" rumour has been the topic of much sociological examination because its development, growth, and rebuttal took place very publicly, due to the Beatles' enormous popularity.

Many fans have claimed that the rumour was a hoax perpetrated by the Beatles, either as a joke, or to stimulate record sales. This was denied numerous times by all four band members.

Sooooooooo anyway...

The Beatles were huge fans of The Bonzo Dog Band and featured them performing the song "Death Cab for Cutie" in their Magical Mystery Tour film. McCartney was known as—and even described himself in an interview as—"the cute one". So people took the song as yet another clue adding to the "Paul is dead" rumour: "Death Cab" referring to his doomed car and "For Cutie" meant "for Paul".

So that's where Death Cab For Cutie got their name from. Ya hurrd?

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