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Frankie Teardrop

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"Frankie Teardrop"
Song by Suicide
from the album Suicide
ReleasedDecember 1977
LabelRed Star
Suicide track listing
7 tracks
  1. "Ghost Rider"
  2. "Rocket U.S.A.
  3. "Cheree"
  4. "Johnny"
  5. "Girl"
  6. "Frankie Teardrop"
  7. "Ché"

"Frankie Teardrop" is a song by Suicide from the band's self-titled debut album, released in 1977.

Lyrics and content[edit]

The song tells a story of a 20-year-old husband and father and poverty-stricken factory worker whose destitution drives him to insanity. One day, Frankie comes home from work, murders his wife and child, and commits suicide. The narrative then continues to follow him into Hell. The musical backing on the song is sparse, featuring just a simple keyboard riff, drum machine, and the vocal line, creating a chilling atmosphere. Singer Alan Vega's "dark, inhuman screams"[4] add to the claustrophobic nature of the piece.

Alternate versions[edit]

The Alan Vega 70th Birthday Limited Edition EP Series featured two versions of "Frankie Teardrop". The first was a cover by American poet and singer Lydia Lunch, and the other was a previously unreleased 1976 demo of the song titled "Frankie Teardrop vs the Space Alien". A previously unreleased 14-minute version of the song also appears on the band’s 2022 compilation album Surrender.

Critical reception[edit]

The track has received critical attention due to both its disturbing nature (Nick Hornby in his book 31 Songs described it as something you would listen to "Only once"),[5] and for its political viewpoint, which Allmusic described as "more literally and poetically political than the work of bands who wore their radical philosophies on their sleeve".[4] Bruce Springsteen cited the song as an influence on his album Nebraska.[6] Pitchfork cited it as "[The track that] gets most of the ink" in terms of critical acclaim, and jokingly as "Taxi Driver: The Musical" when citing the album Suicide in its 100 Greatest ’70s Albums list.[7]

Lou Reed once said that he wished that he had written the song.[8]

In popular culture[edit]

The frightening nature of the song gave birth to a recurring segment on comedian Tom Scharpling's long-running weekly call-in radio program The Best Show, which is named "The Frankie Teardrop Challenge". Beginning in around 2013, Scharpling challenged fans of the show to listen to the song on headphones as loudly as possible, at nighttime and while alone, in the most creatively terrifying situations that they can think of. Callers regularly phone in to recount their experiences attempting the challenge, with very few listeners completing all 10 minutes and 26 seconds of the song.[9][10] Scharpling also often works elements of "Frankie Teardrop" into experimental improvisational sound collages that he regularly creates on-air.


Adapted from the Suicide liner notes.[11]

Production and additional personnel


  1. ^ Younker, Andrew (28 October 2016). "Frankie Teardrop | Suicide". Impact 89FM. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  2. ^ Turner, Luke (20 July 2017). "Alan Vega IT". The Quietus. Retrieved 23 October 2023.
  3. ^ "The Story of Goth in 33 Songs". Pitchfork. 25 October 2017. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Suicide (first album) review on Allmusic". AllMusic.
  5. ^ Nick Hornby. 31 Songs. McSweeney's.
  6. ^ Thomas, Ward. "State Trooper - Bruce Springsteen". Allmusic. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  7. ^ "Pitchfork's top 100 of the 1970's". Pitchfork.
  8. ^ Hermes, Will (July 18, 2016). "The Story of Suicide's 'Frankie Teardrop,' the Most Terrifying Song Ever". Rolling Stone. Lou Reed once said he wished he'd written it.
  9. ^ Appelstein, Mike (October 28, 2015). "13 More of the Creepiest Pieces of Music Ever Recorded, Ever". Riverfront Times.
  10. ^ DeGroot, Joey (April 8, 2014). "Eight Songs That Are Genuinely Terrifying (But Still Incredible): The Cure, R.E.M., and more". Music Times.
  11. ^ Suicide (sleeve). Suicide. New York, New York: Red Star Records. 1977.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)