Halifax band becomes YouTube hit singing the United Airlines blues
East coast pop/folk band and ECC ambassador Sons of Maxwell have a viral hit in their hands after posting the song "United Breaks Guitars" on video site YouTube on Monday.
The song and video was composed and sung by lead singer Dave Carroll after spending months seeking compensation from United Airlines after their baggage handlers fractured his $3,500 Taylor 710 guitar on a March 2008 flight.
After over a year of what he described as phone tag, indifference and buck-passing from the airline's customer service, Carroll decided to get even in the only way he could: write a song about his misadventures.
In Carroll's blog he writes, "United has demonstrated they know how to keep their airline in the forefront of their customer’s minds and I wanted this project to expand upon that satirically." He plans to release two more "United" songs and get viewers to vote for which one they liked the most.
As of Thursday, Carroll's YouTube video has garnered over 500,000 views worldwide and has become front page news on Consumerist, a corporation watchdog blog. Sons of Maxwell and the video have also been covered by The Globe and Mail and played on US news networks.
Incidents involving airlines and broken guitars are sadly not new. The legendary Stan Rogers experienced a similar ordeal in the 70’s when an Air Canada plane ran over his guitar. To avoid being mistreated, some musicians carry their instruments on board while artists like BB King have been known to book a separate seat for their axe.
Even if this is old news, bloggers and the press are responding at a furious pace. A travel reporter for the LA Times picked up the story and managed to reach United Airlines for a comment:
“This has struck a chord with us, and we’ve contacted him directly to make it right,” said Robin Urbanski, a spokeswoman for United. (Urbanski also said she “loved” the video.)
Mr Carroll has still not received compensation, but has been in touch with United and says he hopes to get a career boost out of the exposure. Will he receive full compensation for the breakage? Keep your eyes glued to the internet to find out.
Hailing from Halifax, Sons of Maxwell is a 2006 East Coast Music Awards winner who performed at East Coast Connected's launch event in 2007.
UPDATE: Taylor Guitars has offered to repair Carroll's guitar and give him a discount on a new one. Carroll himself has posted a new video asking United Airlines to donate whatever compensation they believe he deserves to a charity of their choice. As of Friday afternoon, "United Breaks Guitars" has now soared to 1.4 million views.