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United Breaks Guitars: Wikis


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"United Breaks Guitars"
Single by David Carroll
Released July 6, 2009
Format ITMS/YouTube video
Genre Country
Length 4:36
Writer(s) Dave Carroll
David Carroll singles chronology
United Breaks Guitars United Breaks Guitars 3

"United Breaks Guitars" is a song by Canadian musician David Carroll and his band, Sons of Maxwell. It chronicles a real-life experience of how his guitar was broken during a trip on United Airlines in 2008, and the subsequent reaction from the airline. The song became an immediate YouTube and ITMS hit upon its release in July 2009.


Background of the incident

Musician Dave Carroll said his guitar was broken whilst in the airline's custody. He alleged that he and fellow passengers on board a flight plane had witnessed baggage-handling crew throwing guitars on the tarmac in Chicago O'Hare on his flight from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Omaha, Nebraska. He arrived at his destination to discover that his $3,500 Taylor guitar had indeed suffered a broken neck (shown in his video).[1][2] Fox News questioned Carroll on why he checked the valuable guitar and Carroll said that it is difficult to take guitars onto flights.[citation needed] In his song, he sang that he "alerted three employees who showed complete indifference towards me" when he raised the matter in Chicago.[3] Carroll filed a claim with the airline, and was informed that he was ineligible for compensation because had failed make the claim within the company's stipulated "standard 24-hour timeframe".[4]

The song

Carroll says that his fruitless negotiations with the airline for compensation lasted nine months.[5] Then, thinking what Michael Moore would have done, Carroll wrote a song and created a music video about his experience.[6] The lyrics include the verse "I should have flown with someone else, or gone by car, because United breaks guitars."[7] Carroll, who has performed as a solo artist and as a member of the group Sons of Maxwell, wrote two sequel songs related to the events as well.[2] The second video, United Breaks Guitars: Song 2 was released on YouTube on August 18, 2009.[8][9] The song takes a humorous look at Carroll's dealings with "the unflappable" United customer service employee Ms. Irlweg, and targets the "flawed policies" that she was forced to uphold.[2] In March, 2010, United Breaks Guitars: Song 3 was released. [10]


The YouTube video[3] was posted on July 6. It had amassed 150,000 views within one day, prompting United to contact Carroll saying they hoped to right the wrong.[5] It had garnered over half a million hits by July 9,[7] 5 million by mid-August 2009,[4] and over 8 million by March 2010.

Media reported the story of the song's instant success and the public relations humiliation for United Airlines.[1][6][11] Attempting to put a positive gloss on the incident and the song, company spokesman called the parody "excellent". Rob Bradford, United's managing director of customer solutions, telephoned Carroll to apologize for the foul-up and to ask if the carrier could use the video internally for training.[7] United mentioned they hoped to learn from the incident, and to change their customer service policy as a result of the incident.[5]

Bob Taylor, owner of Taylor Guitars, immediately offered Carroll two guitars and other props for his second video;[11] they issued a video response to the story.[12] The song hit number one on the iTunes Music Store the week following its release.[13] The Times reported that the belated compensation offer of $3,000 which was donated by the airline to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz as a "gesture of goodwill" failed to undo the damage done to its image. The journal said the company's share price "plunged by 10 per cent [four days after the song's release], costing shareholders $180 million".[14]

Since the incident, Carroll has been in great demand as a speaker on customer service. On one of his trips as a speaker, the aforementioned United Airlines lost his luggage.[13]

In December 2009, Time magazine named "United Breaks Guitars" #7 on their list of the Top 10 Viral Videos of 2009.[15]

See also


  1. ^ a b CNN newscast on incident
  2. ^ a b c Singer's Sweet Revenge CBS newscast
  3. ^ a b United Breaks Guitars YouTube video
  4. ^ a b Cosh, Colby (August 21, 2009). "A man and his guitar". National Post (The Financial Post). 
  5. ^ a b c Broken guitar song gets airline's attention CBC News. Online, July 8, 2009. Accessed July 8, 2009.
  6. ^ a b Jamieson, Alastair (July 23, 2009). "Musician behind anti-airline hit video 'United Breaks Guitars' pledges more songs". The Daily Telegraph. 
  7. ^ a b c Singer's revenge on United: A hit song United Press International July 9, 2009.
  8. ^ United Breaks Guitars: Song 2 video - YouTube SOM
  9. ^ Story behind United Breaks Guitars: Song 2 - DaveCarrollMusic
  10. ^ United Breaks Guitars: Song 3 - Dave Carroll
  11. ^ a b "Singer gets his revenge on United Airlines and soars to fame". The Guardian. July 23, 2009. 
  12. ^ Taylor Guitar's video response
  13. ^ a b McLean, Jesse (Oct 29, 2009). "United loses luggage of 'United Breaks Guitars' guy". Toronto Star. 
  14. ^ Ayers, Chris (July 22, 2009). "Revenge is best served cold – on YouTube". The Times. 
  15. ^ Fletcher, Dan (December 8, 2009). "Top 10 Viral Videos - 7. United Breaks Guitars". TIME.,28804,1945379_1945171_1945170,00.html. "Fuming about mishandled baggage? Singing's the best revenge." 

External links



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