Song Lyric Sunday — James Dean

For this week’s edition of Song Lyric Sunday, Jim Adams has challenged us to pick a song with a title that starts with either the letter D or the letter J. I decided to go with a song that has both a D and a J in its title. It’s from one of my favorite bands, The Eagles, and it’s a song about a talented young movie star whose life was cut short in a tragic accident, “James Dean.”

“James Dean,” recorded by The Eagles for their 1974 album, On the Border, was written by Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Jackson Browne, and J. D. Souther. It was the second single released from that album, reaching number 77 on the U.S. pop singles chart.

The song is about American actor James Dean (1931–1955) who starred in such films as “Rebel Without a Cause,” “Giant,” and “East of Eden.” The lyrics, “too fast to live, too young to die” refer to the life and abrupt death of Dean in a car crash in 1955 while driving his Porsche Spyder 550, nicknamed “The Little Bastard.”

While the song played up Dean’s “live fast, die young” reputation, it wasn’t his “fast” lifestyle that killed him. His car accident was not caused by excessive speed as much as by very bad luck. In fact, not long before the fatal accident, Dean was stopped by a California Highway Patrolman for driving 65 mph in a 55 mph zone. So he was driving within the posted speed limit when another vehicle unexpectedly crossed the center line of the highway. Dean was unable to maneuver his car out of the way in time to avoid a head-on collision. He was only 24 when he died. The movie, “Rebel Without a Cause,” probably the one for which he is most remembered, was released a month after he died.

Here are the lyrics to “James Dean.”

James Dean, James Dean, I know just what you mean
James Dean, you said it all so clean
And I know my life would look alright
If I could see it on the silver screen

You were the low down rebel if there ever was
Even if you had no cause
James dean, you said it all so clean
And I know my life would look alright
If I could see it on the silver screen

We’ll talk about a low-down bad refrigerator
You were just too cool for school
Sock hop, soda pop, basketball and auto shop
The only thing that got you off was breakin’ all the rules

James Dean, James Dean, so hungry and so lean
James Dean, you said it all so clean
And I know my life would look alright
If I could see it on the silver screen

Little James Dean up on the screen
Wonderin’ who he might be.
Along came a spyder, picked up a rider
Took him down the road to eternity

James Dean, James Dean, you bought it sight unseen
James Dean, James Dean, you bought it sight unseen
You were too fast to live, too young to die, bye bye
You were too fast to live, too young to die, bye bye
Bye bye too fast to live too young to die
Bye bye too fast to live too young to die
Bye bye too fast to live too young to die
Bye bye too fast to live too young to die
Too fast to live too young to die
Oo-oo-oo-oo too fast to live too young to die
Bye bye too fast to live too young to die
Oh, James Dean too fast to live too young to die

14 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday — James Dean

  1. newepicauthor January 17, 2021 / 7:13 am

    You nailed it with this one Fandango. Great to hear this again. I always have a difficult time trying to find videos for Eagles songs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. aisasami January 23, 2021 / 9:26 pm

    Wonderful song! I love that guitar solo during the break!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango January 23, 2021 / 10:34 pm

      It’s another great Eagles song.

      Like

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