|Song by Suicide|
|from the album Suicide|
|Suicide track listing|
"Frankie Teardrop" is a song by Suicide from the band's acclaimed self-titled debut album, which was released in 1977. The song tells a story of a young 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 then 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" add to the claustrophobic nature of the piece.
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 previously unreleased 1976 demo of the song titled "Frankie Teardrop vs the Space Alien".
The track received many reviews due to both its disturbing nature (Nick Hornby in his book 31 Songs described it as something you would listen to "Only once"), and for its political viewpoint, by Allmusic as "More literally and poetically political than the work of bands who wore their radical philosophies on their sleeve". Bruce Springsteen cited the song as an influence on his album Nebraska. 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.
In pop culture
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 listers completing all 10 minutes and 26 seconds of the song. 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.
- Production and additional personnel
- Younker, Andrew (28 October 2016). "Frankie Teardrop | Suicide". Impact 89FM. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
- "The Story of Goth in 33 Songs". Pitchfork. 25 October 2017. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
- "Suicide (first album) review on Allmusic".
- Nick Hornby. 31 Songs. McSweeney's.
- Thomas, Ward. "State Trooper - Bruce Springsteen". Allmusic. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
- "Pitchfork's top 100 of the 1970's".
- Will Hermes (July 18, 2016). "The Story of Suicide's 'Frankie Teardrop,' the Most Terrifying Song Ever". Rolling Stone. Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
Lou Reed once said he wished he’d written it.
- Riverfront Times article: 13 More of the Creepiest Pieces of Music Ever Recorded, Ever."
- Music Times article: "Eight Songs That Are Genuinely Terrifying (But Still Incredible): The Cure, R.E.M., and more."
- Suicide (sleeve). Suicide. New York, New York: Red Star Records. 1977.CS1 maint: others (link)
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