Understanding in a Car Crash

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"Understanding in a Car Crash"
Single by Thursday
from the album Full Collapse
Released October 18, 2001
Recorded 2000 at Big Blue Meenie in Jersey City, New Jersey; mastered at Surgical Sound
Genre Post-hardcore, emo
Label Victory
Writer(s) Tom Keeley, Tim Payne, Steve Pedulla, Geoff Rickly, Tucker Rule
Producer(s) Sal Villanueva
Thursday singles chronology
"Understanding in a Car Crash"
"Cross Out the Eyes"
Full Collapse track listing
(Track 1)
"Understanding in a Car Crash"
(Track 2)
(Track 3)

"Understanding in a Car Crash" is a song by American post-hardcore band Thursday. It was the band's debut single and the lead single from their second album, Full Collapse, in late 2001. "Understanding" was chosen for release as a single and shot by Victory Records during the band's tour with Saves the Day without Thursday's consent. The music video gained rotation on MTV2 and MMUSA upon its release in early 2002. The simple presentation features concert footage of the song's performance with shots cascading on top of one another.

"Understanding" has remained perhaps the band's most well known song and a concert staple. It is usually performed together with "The Other Side of the Crash/Over and Out (Of Control)," a song from the 2006 album, A City by the Light Divided, that tells the other side of the same story.

Music and lyrics[edit]

"Understanding in a Car Crash" is a prime example of Thursday's style of emotional, poetic lyrics and instrumentation paired with intense backup screams, heavy chords, and fierce percussion. It begins quickly with matching snare hits immediately followed by a full ensemble led by a dizzying lead guitar and cymbal-crashing introduction. As the verse begins, a somber lead riff takes over backed a steady beat, crooning bass, and melodic, clean vocals detailing the immediate physical aftermath of a car wreck. The chorus returns to the introductory heaviness with aggressive, cracked backup vocals, intense drumming, and whirling guitars.

Lyrically, "Understanding" deals with youth comprehending and attempting to forget the tragic memory of an automobile wreck with metaphorical lines such as "The spinning hubcaps set the tempo for the music of the broken window." It also makes direct reference to Neil Young's "The Needle and the Damage Done."


Kurt Morris of AllMusic chose "Understanding in a Car Crash" an AllMusic Pick in his review for Full Collapse. He described the song as "a warm, daydream piece that might give listeners a feeling that they are listening to a more modern, upbeat version of The Cure."[1] It was cited as a favorite among six other songs in a 2004 article by the Las Vegas Mercury entitled "Road scholar: Crash course - The Doom-and-Gloom Alternatives to The Beach Boys' 'Little Deuce Coupe'." In it, writer Newt Briggs explains, "Leave it to the emo kids to turn a split second of underwear-soiling terror into a moment for deep thought and introspection."[2]


  • Geoff Rickly – vocals
  • Tom Keeley – lead guitar, vocals
  • Steve Pedulla – rhythm guitar, vocals
  • Tim Payne – bass guitar
  • Tucker Rule – drums
Additional musicians and personnel