I’ve been working on some short story ideas involving the invincibility of youth, or rather, the self-perceived invincibility of youth often held by those under twenty. While most need look no farther than their own past teenage dalliances with (what could have been certain) death, I’ve been preoccupied with the motif within popular culture—explicitly in film and, of course, music. Curiously, the greatest bulk of these teenage “death songs” came about in the 1950s and 60s. A good number of these tracks have been collected in various themed compilations. The two best, and most comprehensive, being ACE Records Dead! The Grim Reaper’s Greatest Hits and its follow up, entitled–wait for it–Still Dead! Both encompass all manner of tragedy expanding on the Shangri-La’s epic “Leader of the Pack.”
Taken in as a whole these collections are not dissimilar to the experience of sitting through a compilation of old murder ballads…only as eerily filtered though teenage anxiety. Below are some well known examples. Drop your favorites in the comments. Oh, and I’ll let you guess whose car the above mangled wreckage belonged to.