Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band – Death Cab For Cutie

I was at Jeff’s site EclecticMusicLover and I heard a song by the band “Death Cab For Cutie” that I liked. I like a few songs by them. That band was named after this song and when I hear their name this is what I think of. This is very different kind of band than what I usually post about. It’s a bit of surreal humor from 1967 from this band that was quite different than anyone else. I’ve always said that Devo was unlike anyone else…and this band I would include also.

The band was the guest of the Beatles on the Magical Mystery Tour movie. There is something about this song…that sticks with me. It might be the intro that pulls me in and won’t let me go…even when I want it to. It is a parody of a 50s teenage tragedy song which I will get to. There was a relationship with Monty Python with a few members like Neil Innes…and you can tell.

The Bonzos were asked personally by Paul McCartney to be in the film as they were gaining popularity in Britain at the time. The song was written by the group’s singer Vivian Stanshall, the initial inspiration for this song was the title of an old American pulp fiction crime magazine he once came across. Stanshall wanted to sing it as a teenage tragedy song of the 50s such as Teen Angel.

It was not a hit in the UK but they did have a top 10 hit with I’m The Urban Spaceman (produced by McCartney) which peaked at #5 in 1968. Death Cab For Cutie was on their album called Gorilla.

The indie rockers Death Cab for Cutie named their band after this song. Lead singer Ben Gibbard says that if he knew his band would still be popular 15 years after they formed, he would’ve picked “something more obvious” for a band name. Ben Gibbard: “I would absolutely go back and give it [the band] a more obvious name, thank God for Wikipedia. At least now, people don’t have to ask me where the f**king name came from every interview. I’m glad we have the name now, but in the early days it was tough.”

The Bonzo Doo-Dah band was formed in the early 60s by British Art Students combining elements of music hall, trad jazz, and psychedelia with surreal humor and avant-garde art. They came up with their name from the cartoon dog created in the 20s by artist George Studdy…Bonzo The Dog.

The phrase “Death Cab for Cutie” can be traced to a book by British Academic Richard Hoggart. In 1957, Hoggart published a book called The Uses of Literacy which discussed British popular culture and cultural studies.

I was around 13 when I saw Magical Mystery Tour. Citizen Kane, it’s NOT but to see videos of I Am The Walrus and Fool On The Hill was worth it. When this band came on to sing Death Cab For Cutie…they were accompanied by stripper Jan Carson doing her act while the Bonzos were performing…I forgot a lot of things about the movie…but not that.

This is the Magical Mystery Tour version that I saw….the censored version

This is an outtake ***NON censored*** version… you see a bit more of Jan Carson in this one. So a warning…yes there is nudity. 

The song starts around the 1-minute mark on this one. 

Death Cab For Cutie

That night Cutie called a cab-Baby don’t do itShe left her East Side drum so drab-Baby don’t do itShe went out on the townKnowing it would make her lover frown-Death cab for Cutie-Death cab for CutieSomeone’s going to make you pay your fare

The cab was racing through the night-Baby don’t do itHis eyes in the mirror, keeping Cutie in sight-Baby don’t do itWhen he saw Cutie it gave him a thrillDon’t you know Baby, curves can kill-Death cab for Cutie-Death cab for CutieSomeone’s going to make you pay your fare

Cutie, don’t you play with fateDon’t leave your lover aloneIf you go out on this dateHis heart will turn to stone

Bad girl Cutie, what have you done-Baby don’t do itSlipping sliding down Highway 31-Baby don’t do itThe traffic lights changed from green to redThey tried to stop but they both wound up dead-Death cab for Cutie-Death cab for CutieSomeone’s going to make you pay your fareSomeone’s going to make you pay your fareSomeone’s going to make you pay your fareSomeone’s going to make you pay your fare

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

23 thoughts on “Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band – Death Cab For Cutie”

  1. Interesting story, and song. I had to almost re-read this to figure out it was the 60s song and not a song called ‘Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band’…which could be a cool song title! With Toad the Wet Sprocket, that makes two bands whose names have ties to Monty Python.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. you know, it’s funny, I heard the song in passing – in a store maybe? – in the last year and I picked up on the chorus, and guessed the wrong way around – I thought it was a newer (but retro sounding) song that was written by working around the DFC band name! If it was in the Beatles movie, I don’t actually remember it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes it’s in the movie…that first clip IS the movie. It wasn’t on youtube so I just made the clip off of the movie.
        It’s an out there song…the reason I mentioned Devo is because in their time…they were different…not in the same way but different.


  2. Feels like Elvis on lithium. Not real crazy about the song, but neat to learn DCFC name origin story. I enjoyed the uncensored version better, but I liked seeing George and John in the censored version.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. What just happened here Max? lol. Never ever seen or heard this. Heard the band Death Cab…but never knew the backstory… on a side note Sloan has dropped a couple of tracks from there forthcoming album and its Power Pop that is right in your wheelhouse…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have the Gorilla album and a ‘best of’ compilation. I would throughly recommend anyone unaware of these guys to go listen. They are magnificent. (Maybe the humour is very ‘British’ though. Hopefully it transcends continents. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. i thought I’d commented, but no- the f- fickle Scottish internet sent my comment into who knows where? I’m still off-grid, but the BDDDB demand a response. I loved ’em since The Intro And The Outro’- ‘Eric Clapton on ukulele, Adolf Hitler on vibes!’ I recommend a listen to Stanshalls ‘Rawlinson End’ on ‘Lets Make Up And Be Friendly’ for some surreralyl bonkers Brit wordplay.
    Neil Innes was the main driver for the Rutles too.
    As for Death Cab For Cutie the band I find ‘Ingenue’ a first class bit of songwriting too. I’ll be back online in a coupla weeks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you got to see this one because of all the people I thought you are the one that would know these guys. I will give them a listen. I will see you in a couple of weeks and I hope you are having a good time!

      Liked by 1 person

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