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"Death Cab for Cutie" is a song composed by Vivian Stanshall and Neil Innes and performed by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. It was included on their 1967 album Gorilla.

Content[]

Innes's inspiration for the song was the title of a story in an old American pulp fiction crime magazine he came across at a street market. Stanshall's primary contribution was to shape "Death Cab for Cutie" as a parody of Elvis Presley (notably Presley's 1957 hit "(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear"), and he sang it as such, with undertones of 1950s doo-wop. In the style of several early teenage tragedy songs, such as "Teen Angel", it tells a story of youthful angst. "Cutie," who goes out on the town against her lover's wishes ("Last night Cutie caught a cab, uhuh-huh ..."), is killed when the taxicab she is in runs a red light and crashes. In the end of every chorus, the narrator notes that someone is going to make Cutie pay her fare despite the fact that she is dead.

Performances[]

The song became one of the Bonzo Dog Band's better-known numbers when it was featured in the Beatles' 1967 television film Magical Mystery Tour. Performed in a stage routine by the Bonzos, it accompanied a striptease act, performed by Jan Carson of the Raymond Revuebar, who was enthusiastically ogled by club customers including John Lennon and George Harrison. Paul McCartney had coaxed Stanshall into wearing a pink chiffon scarf to look more "trendy".

The Bonzo Dog Band performed the song in a 1967 episode of the TV series Do Not Adjust Your Set, in which the band is gushingly introduced by Michael Palin (who gets the title wrong). The band appeared regularly on the show—a so-called children's programme which featured Palin, Eric Idle and other later-famous comedians.

Alex Chilton of Big Star covered the song live on WLYX Memphis in 1975. The song is also referenced on the 1984 Culture Club album Waking Up with the House on Fire, in the song "Crime Time", which is a throwback to the early rock 'n' roll sound.

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