UPDATE: Squeaky wheel, meet grease: Tiger Airways has refunded Watson's $500 and given the singer an additional $2,000, says London's Daily Mail.
This spring, Austin honky-tonker and Pasadena native Dale Watson had some dates in Australia and made the mistake of booking a flight from Sydney to Melbourne on Singapore-based budget carrier Tiger Airways. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, not only did the airline charge Watson a $500 excess-baggage fee for a box of 120 CDs he valued at $3,000, it lost the CDs and has so far refused to compensate the singer.
Watson, who returns to Blanco's September 2, responded the best way he knew how: Writing a song called "Tiger Airways (and Their We-Don't-Care Ways)"; the video debuted on YouTube Wednesday. The best part is when he starts naming names on Tiger's public-relations staff, who were (as you might imagine) less than helpful. One of them allegedly told the singer over the phone that he was going to "rip up the cheque."
Watson may have had the last laugh, though - sort of. It won't help him get his CDs back, but Down Under's Civil Aviation Safety Authority has suspended Tiger's Australian operations until at least August 1. Here are a few more songs that might help ease weary travelers' frustrations a little. Or not.
Dave Carroll, "United Breaks Guitars": A couple of years ago, Canadian singer-songwriter Dave Carroll was on his way from Nova Scotia to a gig in Nebraska when he went through what must be every musician's nightmare. Waiting on the tarmac at Chicago's O'Hare airport, another passenger alerted him to some baggage handlers below treating his band's guitars like sacks of potatoes.
After his attempts to seek redress from the airline were met with "complete indifference," Carroll wrote a catchy, explicitly detailed country-rock tune about the incident and posted a hilarious video - co-starring his mangled Taylor six-string - on YouTube. Several million views later, United offered to settle with Carroll; classy guy that he is, he declined but said the airline was welcome to donate the money to the charity of their choice.
The Beatles, "The Ballad of John & Yoko": Rocks Off always liked it when the Beatles went a lil' bit country, and this account of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's whirlwind European honeymoon in 1969 (including the famous "bed-in" at the Amsterdam Hilton) may be our favorite. This was the last Beatles collaboration between John Lennon and Paul McCartney - Lennon wrote the song, and the two of them recorded it minus George Harrison and Ringo Starr - as well as the last Beatles song to reach No. 1 in the UK, even though the BBC banned it for the line "Christ, you know it ain't easy."
Mott the Hoople, "All the Way From Memphis": One of the unsung glam-rockers' best songs blows up the time an airline lost front man Ian Hunter's guitar into a parable about the peaks and valleys of rock and roll stardom: "'N you look like a star but you're out on parole." We're not sure what was up with Hunter's using the word "spade" (different time, maybe?), but some people find the saxophone solo at the end - played by Roxy Music co-founder Andy MacKay - even more off-putting.
Graham Nash & David Nash, "Immigration Man": It's hard not to sympathize with the folk-rock duo's post-CSNY tale of woe at some unnamed border checkpoint. For one thing, all they want to do is pray. And besides, would you like to wait on David Crosby to go through customs? In the early '70s? Didn't think so. Interestingly enough, the song is based on an experience Nash had, not Crosby, but Rocks Off imagines any border guard not on the take - or as high as Nash and Crosby probably were - would have to be a little leery of either one.
Andrea Parker, "Lost Luggage": Parker was a cellist before going on to become one of the UK's top remixers (Depeche Mode, Phillip Glass, The Orb, Ryuchi Sakamoto) and releasing several albums on the Mo'Wax label. This seven-minute exercise in stillness from the vocal edition of 1999's Kiss My Arp mingles Parker's past and future into a downtempo haze of cello, creaky synth - that's what an Arp is - Young & the Restless piano and forlorn breakbeats. Recommended for fans of Massive Attack and Portishead, and absolutely not for anyone in a hurry; aka most people either on their way to or from an airport.
Bob Dylan/The Byrds, "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere": Neither Dylan nor the Byrds sound especially broken up - or concerned in the least - about their persistent case of inertia. As someone who does not spend nearly enough time "down in the easy chair," Rocks Off can relate.
Paul McCartney & Wings, "Band On the Run": McCartney's 1974 hit gets to the heart of the hurry-up-and-wait nature of travel, which musicians know better than most. The song begins with Wings climbing the four walls of some anonymous hotel room or airport lounge, then when the rain explodes with a mighty crash, they're off. The Oriental-shaded opening chords and later references to the "jailer man and Sailor Sam, searching everyone" make us wonder how "Band On the Run" would have been different if McCartney had written it after his 1980 weed bust in Japan. Or maybe he could just see the future.
Jimmy Tango (Jim Carrey), "Ride the Snake": Not technically a "song," but it should have been. Rocks Off can plum guarantee you a snootful of
crystal meth "Fat Busters" will liven up any travel delay. Not to mention make any interaction with customer-service agents over lost luggage, first-class upgrades or anything else much more interesting than they would have been otherwise.
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Sade, "Smooth Operator": OK, we admit it: Rocks Off only put this song on the list because Sade is here tomorrow night and we've been boning up for the show. (Sorry.) Still, it is kind of about traveling - we were amused by our kinsmen at 29-95's puzzlement over the "coast to coast, L.A. to Chicago" lyric in their preview this week. Our best guess is that Sade's luggage went to Chicago while she went to L.A., or else she's talking about the Gold Coast, the historic neighborhood on Chicago's Near North Side. The affluent area would have made happy hunting grounds indeed for the "love for sale" gigolo of the title.
Brian Eno, Music For Airports: Then again, if your plane is late or you get bumped from a standby flight, you can just head to the bar, order up a martini or tumbler of Maker's Mark, and just chill. That's probably what we would do.