United Breaks Guitars in Chicago, Creates Fame for Musician

Posted July 23, 2009 by Nicki Krawczyk

Blurb_broken_guitar_20080814-vi People deal with frustration in all kinds of ways. I knew a girl in high school who used to cry. I tend to shake my fists, punch inanimate objects and, occasionally, growl. (It’s not pretty but I’m not perfect.) Dave Carroll, facing endless unsatisfactory phone calls and poor customer service, writes songs.

You see, according to Dave, United Airlines breaks guitars. Specifically, United Airlines broke his guitar. The crux of the story is that during a stopover in Chicago while he was on his way to Nebraska, baggage handlers allegedly threw his $3,500 guitar and broke it. (I say “allegedly” although no one really seems to be disputing this point. I just can’t afford a lawsuit.) Attempting to receive some kind of compensation for this, Dave repeatedly made contact with United and was repeatedly told that United was not responsible for the damage.

Cut to Dave, with a new guitar and a new song, “United Breaks Guitars”. Viewed more than 3.6 million times, this catchy little act of vengeance has become an internet sensation and certainly a thorn in the side of United Airlines.

More than this being a story about revenge, though, I think this is a story about creative problem solving. Though Dave may never have received his desired monetary compensation, he’s achieved a level of fame that he would, most likely, have never achieved without this song. And, much as I may be prone to futile seething, this is probably a good lesson for all of us. Channeling our frustration into other outlets than oh, say, punching and growling, might just be the best revenge of all.

(Photo: www.360.kombo.com)

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